You might think that the words ‘vegetables,’ ‘babies,’ and ‘love’ don’t belong anywhere near each other in a sentence. But if this is the case, you might not be giving babies enough credit. Babies definitely can like, and even love, vegetables if they’re introduced to them early on in life. More than that, just like any new food, some children need time and multiple exposures to get used to the unfamiliar flavors.
In France, vegetables are commonly the first foods children are exposed to, which can help shape their tastes as they grow. You don’t need to get fancy with vegetables if you don’t feel inspired to – instead, you can just steam and puree or steam and mash them, and you can always either introduce them one at a time, or in combination with each other. Introducing these healthy foods early on helps a baby develop her palate, which is something you’re in total control of. Want a foodie baby who loves her vegetables? You have the tools to make it happen!
Here are four vegetables that Baby could really grow to enjoy.
Peas are delicious, fun, and simple, and unlike some frozen vegetables, frozen peas have the same nutritional content as fresh peas. When babies are around 8 months old, it’s usually recommended that parents start feeding them child-friendly versions of adult table food, and for children younger than 8 months, peas can be easily pureed. Peas aren’t just ideal finger food; they also provide protein, vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron. If the ones you buy come in pods, make sure you take them out of the pod and cook them until they’re soft before serving.
Sweet potatoes or yams
As the name implies, sweet potatoes pack a deliciously sweet flavor that your baby will really enjoy. Sweet potatoes have a lot of beta carotene (vitamin A), potassium, and folate, among other things. There are a lot of different recipes out there that you can incorporate sweet potatoes into, too.
It’s great to introduce your baby to beets early on. This way, she can start warming up to beets before toddlerhood. Beets have vitamins C and A, potassium, magnesium, and folate. Make sure to always remove the peels from beets, and serve them extremely soft – mashed or pureed, for example.
Turnips are so underrated – maybe you can’t even remember the last time you ate a turnip. They’re especially underrated when it comes to the kind of nutrients they contain, because turnips are a good source of vitamin C, iron, and zinc. Turnips can be mixed with other vegetables in a puree, or served extremely soft-cooked to your baby.
Vegetables, babies, and gas
Some vegetables are more prone to causing less-than-desirable side effects like bloating or gas. The more common perpetrators include cabbage, broccoli, peas, corn, and cauliflower. If you notice that your baby experiences more bloating or gas after eating certain vegetables, you can try a few different fixes. Removing the stems from broccoli might reduce their effects, as should keeping the gaseous vegetables a regular part of your baby’s diet. Adding a little ginger to the water that you cook or steam a vegetable in couldn’t hurt, too, because ginger is known to help reduce these effects.
There’s no magic vegetable that every baby wishes they could have at every meal, of course. But in terms of color and taste, some vegetables are a little more baby-friendly. When your baby shows signs of being ready to eat more solid foods, try preparing some of the veggies above.
“Infant and toddler health: Is juice OK?” MayoClinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Jun 7 2016. Web.
Monica Preboth. “AAP Clinical Report on Infant Methemoglobinemia.” AAFP. American Academy of Family Physicians, Dec 15 2005. Web.
“Finger Food for Babies.” KidsHealth. Nemours Foundation, 2016. Web.
Kyla Boyse. “Choking Prevention: YourChild.” UMich.edu. University of Michigan Health System, Mar 2011. Web.
“Introducing Baby Foods That May Cause Gas.” HomemadeBabyFoodRecipes. Homemade Baby Food Recipes, 2015. Web.