Becoming a healthy eater means learning to be a healthy eater. Just like with any learning, books are key, even to babies and pre-readers. Books offer children a new way to understand and think about food away from the pressures of mealtime. They can practice identifying foods, ask questions, and experiment with reactions (without getting you upset the way you might while trying to feed them).
Children who know about food, even if just through books, feel an empowering mastery over—and openness towards—less familiar foods that they’ve read about. These feelings can turn the mealtime battle cry, “NO, I won’t try it!” into “I know eggplant!” or “I read that cauliflower is like [more familiar] broccoli!”
Reading about food also sends an important message about food’s place in your family life: we love healthy food and it’s an important part of how we live and relate to our world. This message is critical to raising healthy eaters.
There are tons of wonderful books about food and healthy eating for children of all ages. Here are a few of my favorites.
Pancakes, Pancakes by Eric Carle
Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert
Jamberry by Bruce Degen
I Eat Fruit! (and other books in the “Things I Eat” series) by Hannah Tofts
Toddler and Preschool
Yum Yum Dim Sum (and other books in the “World Snacks” series) by Amy Wilson Sanger
The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park
An Egg is Quiet and A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston
How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina Friedman
Pete’s A Pizza by William Steig
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
Five- to Eight-Year-Olds
Who Eats What? by Patricia Lauber
Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
Everybody Bakes Bread by Norah Dooley
Where Does Food Come From? by Gary Goss
I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child
The Tortilla Factory by Gary Paulsen
Let’s Eat: What Children Eat Around the World by Beatrice Hollyer
By reading books about food, you can continue shaping a love of healthy eating even while your little one’s tastes go through different phases.
Looking for more ideas and recipes? Join the “Starting Solids 101” program for expectant moms and moms to babies up to 12-months-old. Participants get exclusive 6-month access to my private Starting Solids 101 group where they have me “on call” to answer questions, share the latest research on infant feeding, and cut through the heaps of information and opinions on how to feed baby safely. We also have one hour-long Q&A call a month so that you can get in-depth answers. It’s like having a family feeding expert on speed dial, plus a new community of moms who care as much about starting baby on a healthy eating adventure as you.
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