Parents: Any tips for encouraging adventurous eating?
DK: Oh, yes! I know exactly where we went wrong with Harry: We didn't eat very much in front of him. For most of Harry's first year on solids, my husband was working crazy hours. I was desperate for some grownup time, so I'd wait until he came home, usually after Harry was in bed, to eat dinner like an adult. I adapted our food for Harry just as I do in the cookbook, so he never ate from jars, and I never cooked specially for him— phew!— but he hardly ever saw us enjoying the food I was feeding him. For a long time this was just fine, but eventually he started to balk, and that's when I started to push, my other big mistake. I couldn't understand how he could go from devouring my Balsamic Beef Stew one day to hating it the next, so it became a war of wills. And I can tell you from experience: When you're fighting a stubborn toddler, we parents will lose almost every time.
It comes down to two pieces of advice: Enjoy a wide variety of healthy foods in front of your baby. And if he starts to turn things down, shrug and move on. Don't make something new —you do not want to become a short-order cook—just make sure each meal has more than one element, and let him eat as much as he wants of whatever he does like. Then try again another day.
Parents: How do you balance making food delicious for adults and palatable for little ones?
DK: It's not hard, really. We're so trained to think that babies and young children need bland, boring food, but that's totally not true. If your family is free of food allergies, once he's used to the mechanics of eating you can feed your baby almost anything you're having. Spices are fine; just use a lighter hand initially. Salt is fine in moderation too. I worked with a pediatric registered dietitian on all the recipes, and she pointed out that our bodies actually need sodium, so using just a little to bring out the flavor in your food isn't a bad thing. The concern with sodium and little ones comes much more when you're using processed foods, which often have much more sodium than you'd expect.