My daughter just turned ten months and has been a voracious eater from the start, so I'll freely admit that this is not necessarily normal child behavior...
But my baby girl love eating WHOLE fruits and veggies. It began when she was getting her teeth (she got six in the course of just over a month, so they kind of all came at once for us). I would give her a cold stalk of celery out of the fridge and she would chew to her heart's content. It was a great tool for teething. As her teeth came in, she was actually chewing the celery and eating it. I would watch her like a hawk, but celery is cool because all those strings keep it together well. So she could get off bits, but it didn't come off in choking chunks.
Now she has six teeth, and she eats everything- plus, she wants it whole. Even when I cut up avocado in little chunks she smears it around like a cranky pants. She likes spears of avocado- or, as I've learned from leaving our CSA box on the floor, whole avocado with the skin on. A few weeks ago we were at the weekend market and got roasted corn and she was a champ eating it right off the cob. She likes a whole strawberry that she can bite into pieces rather than slices of strawberry. I cut her grapes in half, but only after she had to cough one back up that got stuck. She recently discovered the joys of eating an apple off the core- and that's just what she does! It's maddness, but it's her maddness, so I allow it.
Here's what she's had so far today:
Freeze dried apples, strawberries, and blueberries
One toasted slice of Dave's Killer Bread (covered in seeds and full of protein)
Bites of my oatmeal with soymilk
water from her straw cup
mum mum crackers
cucumber in slices
bites of my veggie sandwich
blue corn chips that came with my sandwich
vegan African peanut soup (she is not allergic to peanuts)
water from my glass with a straw
most of an apple cut into slices without skin, then she grabbed the rest and ate it off the core
4 snap peas
3/4 of an avocado in slices
6-8 grapes halved
a few bites of my vegan chocolate beet cake
another slice of toasted bread
I guess I should be honest. She also ate a couple handfuls of dirt from the garden while I was watering and attempted to eat three rocks that I retrieved from her chipmonk cheeks. She tried to bite into the spaghetti squash I just bought while I was putting away groceries.
I share all this because my daughter's eating habits make me so happy. I love that she loves veggies and fruit and wholesome bread. As her biting improves, it's amazing to see her eat more and more and take delight in all the glorious flavors of nature's bounty. We shared a mushu veggie wrap with tofu the other day because she was able to take bites of my wrap and share with me that way. There was so much flavor for her to experience in that, and she wanted more and more.
Someone asked me, not too long ago, "My son won't eat vegetables, how do you think that vegetarian thing will work out when she gets pickier?" I know many babies love veggies and then go through an antiveggie stage, but it's not like she's going to ask me to cook up some chicken one day. She is already an adventurous eater, she eats with her eyes (she obviously chooses colorful foods over bland ones), and she will try anything and has obvious preferences. She has a healthy relationship with food, which for a woman of any age is such an asset.
I think many adults tell children that children don't like veggies. I was always told that vegetables were delicious and good for me (so much truer than the other things we tell children). I remember as a child that my favorite food was brussel sprouts. My family thought this was the funniest thing ever, but they were just so good!
I will finish with a story of a recording that my grandmother made of me as a child. She loved to get out her tape recorder (am I old for saying this?) and record conversations with me. We had just gotten Chinese takeout, and she was asking me about what I was eating. My grandmother was not an adventurous eater, and had ordered chow mein. I was having mu shu.
Grandma: "What are the little black strips in your food?"
Me: "That's fungus."
Me: "I LIKE fungus!"
I didn't let an adult's view of what a kid should like or my granmother's food hang ups get to me. I can't wait for my daughter to grow and learn to choose foods she enjoys and be able to express preferences. My hope for her is that she can follow her palette and always love the veggies like she does now.