New Study Reveals 30% of Toddlers Don’t Consume Vegetables Daily

I thought I’d be the kind of mom who would make all her baby food herself and create perfectly balanced meals to expose my adventurous eaters to different tastes. Reality sent me on a different route, one that included more squeeze-packs than I had anticipated.

A new study shows that not all squeeze-packs have the same quality. If I choose one, then I will only select those that contain vegetables. If I don’t, before I realize it, my toddler could be one of the 30% who do not consume any vegetables on a regular basis.

The authors of an article published in this month’s American Journal of Clinical Nutrition say that the commercial infant and toddler food market in the U.S. doesn’t appear to offer caregivers a sufficient type and selection of foods to encourage children to accept and consume vegetables once they transition to table foods.

The research found that only 52 of the 548 infant foods and toddler food products sold in the United States were made entirely of vegetables. And zero of them were made with straight greens, beans, or peas.

In squeeze packs that combine flavors, sweeter vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes are the most popular. Dark green vegetables were listed as the primary ingredient only in 1.1% options.

Why is this important? Although babies prefer the sweeter taste (that is what they are used to through breast milk or formula), exposing them to bitter tastes such as beans or leafy greens early in life increases their likelihood of eating vegetables later on.

Parents of infants and toddlers should continue to feed them greens, peas and beans, even if they say “yucky.” Only with exposure will “yucky,” eventually become acceptable. (Here’s hoping.)

Researchers hope that commercial manufacturers will soon respond to their findings by increasing the amount of greens in baby food. To all the parents of picky children, I say peas and thanks!