Onions are hands down my favorite vegetable. The flavor of an onion brings mouthwatering yumminess to a meal. Unfortunately, many toddlers do not like onions and (as an example) they will happily eat their spaghetti but refuse to eat a diced onion in the sauce. Below are some tips that will help you introduce onions to your toddler.
When to introduce: If a parent hasn't already introduced onions to her baby (onions are common in homemade baby food), I usually introduce cooked onions at about 8 months of age and raw onions at about a year. This is not because of an allergy risk (onion allergies are rare); it is due to the fact that onions can give children gas. Don’t worry, though, the health benefits of onions outweigh the potential gas issue! The pediatricians and registered dietitians I consult with praise onions, as they are an excellent source of antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties for my kids, which is especially relevant with chronic inflammation and health issues.
How to choose: When selecting onions, make sure to choose onions that are firm, have small necks and have dry, papery skin. Avoid onions that are spongy, bruised, discolored or have patchy skin coloring. It’s important to note that the smaller the onion, the stronger its flavor. So, choose a large onion when you first introduce this veggie to your little one. To keep onions fresh, store them in a cool, dry and dark place.
Color and taste: When you shop at the grocery store, show your toddler that onions primarily come in three colors: yellow, red and white. Each color of onion, as well as the preparation, will have a unique taste and may determine whether your child will gobble it down!
Yellow onions have yellowish-brown skin with a creamy-white flesh. This onion is perfect for kids who need a mild flavor. As a bonus, yellow onions get sweeter the longer they cook!
Red onions have a red to purplish-red skin and flesh. I like to introduce this onion to children that prefer a spicy but sweet taste (verses a milder taste). Note that the red onion loses its color and becomes sweeter the longer you cook it.
White onions have white skin and flesh. These onions can either have a sharp taste and strong smell OR be very mild and sweet. You really need to know your white onions or be willing to taste it before you give it to your children. These are usually the onions parents tell me they have tried with their kids and they refused it. I prefer to introduce yellow or red onions before white onions because of the inconsistency on taste. Don’t count this onion out; just introduce it third in line.
How to not cry: In my family we joke that only a jealous person cries when they cut onions. Since I’ve never been the jealous type, I ALWAYS had the job of cutting onions at family events and at home. And since I come from a Mexican household where tacos, salsa, beans and enchiladas were a weekly occurrence, I’m a pretty skilled onion cutter. As an adult, I have learned that cutting onions + crying has nothing to do with jealously, but the sulfuric acid in the onions. If you have a little one that wants to help in the kitchen, make sure you place the onion in the freezer for 10 minutes (or fridge for 30 minutes) before cutting the onion. This will decrease the acidity and keep you and your toddler’s eyes from watering!
Eating: Children from different cultures eat onions differently. Onions can be eaten raw (fresh salsa, on sandwiches and hamburgers, in salads, on top of hot dogs), dried (seasonings), cooked (in spaghetti sauce), sautéed (for toppings on steak), steamed (with other fresh veggies), barbecued (on skewers), boiled (in soups), fried (onion rings) and pickled! Onions are great flavor enhancers and are used as a main ingredient in many dishes like stews and curries. My personal favorites are in omelets, baked potatoes or ceviche. Yum!
How does your family eat onions? What color of onion do you use most? I hope these tips and tricks encourage YOU to introduce onions to your toddler. If you put onions in one of your home cooked meals this week, let us know how your toddler enjoyed them! #ezpzfun #onion #toddler
Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz