Celebrity guest blogger Kendra Wilkinson, star of E's reality show Kendra and mom to toddler Hank Jr., shares her secrets for getting baby Hank to eat healthy. Read Kendra's previous post on what kind of parent she hopes to be.
Every morning my husband, my son and I go downstairs and we take two big handfuls of broccoli, one handful of strawberries, one handful of blueberries, some pineapple and watermelon and then blend them into a delicious smoothie. For the rest of the day we drink the fruit and veggies smoothie we made. This is the easiest way to make sure that baby Hank gets all of the nutrients from raw veggies he needs. We put ice in the smoothie to make it cold and some orange juice to give it a juicy consistency. My husband and I make sure our son drinks 2-3 full servings of raw veggies each day.
The other day we went to the store and picked up a popsicle ice tray (so we can make homemade popsicles!). Sometimes, we take the fruit blend and put it in the trays and freeze it so that when it’s time for a special treat, baby Hank thinks he’s getting a sugary ice pop, but it’s really all fruits and veggies. The funniest part is that Baby Hank won’t eat broccoli on its own (raw OR cooked) but he drinks broccoli in his smoothie every day and loves it! I don’t want to trick him into liking fruits and veggies, but knowing that he’s getting all the vitamins and nutrients he needs makes it worth the ruse.
We have tried to figure out new and different ways to get the baby to enjoy foods before he knows what he likes. We have definitely tried to make baby Hank want to reach for a healthier option if available instead of the junk route. Right now my son would pick a piece of watermelon over a cookie because that’s what he’s eaten more of and what he’s familiar with.
My husband and I grew up playing sports and we both remember at the end of every game you got a treat, a candy bar, a granola bar etc. We’re not the kind of people who are going to shelter him from anything or "ban" certain foods from the house. Our focus won’t be so much "you can’t have this," but it will be more "eat the healthy food and treat yourself to something special." Our goal is to teach him balance because that’s a lesson you can take with you the rest of your life.
I think we will have one sweet item (for example: a box of granola bars, a container of ice cream or a bag of cookies) and one salty bad food (potato chips etc.) in the house so that he can learn how to indulge in moderation. If he’s sitting on the couch eating ice cream and potato chips all day then that’s not good, BUT allowing him to have a couple of chips when he wants them is how we are teaching moderation. We want to make sure he understands what cravings are and how to handle satisfying your sweet (or salty!) tooth without going overboard. I'm guilty of overindulging sometimes myself, so keeping fresh produce at arm’s length in the house helps curb those bad habits.
We have tried not to focus too much on food in the sense that we don’t want to make a big deal about what we are eating. By restricting certain foods or only making kids eat certain things, it becomes a big deal and we certainly want to avoid that. When I was a kid my mind was never on food—it was on my next soccer or softball game and I was only thinking about playing sports. When I was hungry I would run in the house and grab something quick and run back out. Food was never a big deal, so I could have grabbed anything: cookies, chips, granola, fruit—whatever! I was never restricted so I never thought about it. The fact that I wasn’t restricted made me WANT to grab the granola or fruit because I wasn’t told I had to or I couldn’t. At the end of the day I do everything in moderation, including my meals—and that even includes popcorn and Oreo fixes, because sometimes we all need a little cheat treat here and there!
Here's what baby Hank will eat on a typical day:
- Smoothie (that he eats all day)
- Scrambled eggs
- 2 pieces of toast
- Glass of Milk
- PB and J
- Organic chicken nuggets (or any brand with all white meat) I snack on those too J
- Corn (can either be cut off the cob or some brands have it ready to go in bags in the freezer section)
- Smoothie and smoothie popciles
- Fruit (we always have fruit lying around)
- Cheez-its (the 100 calorie packs are PERFECT! They are already divided out, easy to go and he can carry himself)
- Eggplant parmesan (eggplant is great for kids because they don’t really know what it is! Between the texture and taste my son loves it, especially with a little marinara sauce on it)
- Sometimes some mac and cheese