Let Them Eat Onions

General Toddler Feeding

The sign language sign for “more” is closing the fingers on each hand and touching them together.

Shortly after my older daughter learned to walk, but far before she was talking much, she often used this sign to mean both “more” and “some.”

One evening when she was about sixteen months old, she toddled up to me as I was making my shredded chicken tacos. “Some?” she signed. She meant that she wanted some of whatever I was chopping up there on the countertop. Would you let your one-year-old munch on raw onions? A registered dietitian explains why it might be a good idea! Click To Tweet

I am all about getting kids involved in cooking and tasting along the way, but I hesitated. I was chopping onions. Surely this kid isn’t going to enjoy raw onions, right? But ultimately I didn’t think it would be harmful, so I decided to let her figure that out for herself.

I cut off the tiniest sliver of onion and handed it to her. Munch. “More?” she asked with her two little hands. Holy cow, my sixteen month old kid likes raw onions?

Let Them Eat Onions eating onions 1I use onions in almost everything I cook, so I’ve offered them to her quite often since. And although kids often go through a phase around age two where they start to reject foods they once enjoyed, her love of onions has persisted! These days, as soon as she sees me take an onion out to chop she wants to have one for herself, and she often takes a big bite out of it as if it was an apple!

At the very least, I’ve spared myself the trouble of myself picking onions out of her food or dealing with a tantrum when a hamburger she’s ordered in a restaurant arrives with onions on top. But really this story about onions is an example of my overall strategy to expose her to many foods and let her decide which ones she prefers.

I’m sharing this because I want to encourage you not to make decisions about what your kids will and won’t like yourself. I often wonder how her preference for onions might have developed if I hadn’t offered her any that day under the assumption that she wouldn’t like them.

Let Them Eat Onions musselsIt doesn’t matter if your kid ends up liking onions specifically, or if they never even ask to eat an onion. Recently, we were out for surf and turf and I offered her a mussel. While I’d love to say she popped it right in her mouth without a second thought, that wasn’t the case. And anyway, that wasn’t my goal in offering it to her. She explored it with her hands and even licked it at one point before turning her attention back to her meal. Not bad for something quite different from her typical foods, I think!

Next time you find yourself thinking or saying to your child, “You won’t like that” I encourage you to stop yourself and offer the item instead. Even if it turns out that you were right, you’ve provided your child with an exposure opportunity and repeated exposure is ultimately the best strategy in helping children learn to enjoy new foods.

Let Them Eat Onions food chart 4

I offer a free Food Exposure Chart to help you keep track of the foods you’re working on exposing your kids to. Download it here and you’ll also get my 7 Tips for Introducing New Foods and Food Suggestion List!

What’s the strangest food your child ever wanted to try?

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