What veggies to feed baby
Best Vegetables for Babies
We all want our kids to grow up eating a healthy diet — and it’s hard to think of a healthier food than vegetables. Full of complex carbs, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, veggies are a dietary building block of wellness, even for very young children.
But the question always follows: Can you actually get your kid to like vegetables? The battle over a plate of veggies is a classic parent-child power struggle.
Here’s how to not only choose the best veggies for your baby, but prepare them in ways that will help your kiddo become a veggie lover for life.
For babies just starting to eat solids (around 6 months or so), try these six softer, blendable veggies.
Bugs Bunny’s fave orange veggies are a baby food staple for good reason. Once cooked, carrots puree beautifully and offer a not-too-piquant flavor for baby’s sensitive palate.
Plus, they contain plenty of fiber to promote healthy digestion, as well as beta carotene, which converts to vitamin A to boost vision and immune function.
Speaking of cartoon characters’ favorite vegetables, remember Popeye’s love for spinach? This leafy green deserves its cartoon reputation for being rich in iron — a nutrient babies especially need for energy and development.
Cooked, pureed spinach is best for younger infants. Add a sprinkle of salt to enhance taste.
Pumpkin may bring to mind chilly temperatures and falling leaves, but with canned varieties, your child can enjoy the gourds any time of year. Pureed pumpkin’s smooth texture is ideal as one of baby’s first foods, and high amounts of A and C round out its nutrient profile.
Avocados are the heroes of healthy monounsaturated fats. These important macronutrients help develop baby’s brain and nervous system, as well as increase absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Meanwhile, each serving of avocado comes with a sizable dose of fiber and folate.
Keep in mind that a little bit of high fat avocado goes a long way. Start with a serving of about 1 tablespoon, mashed.
Mashed cooked sweet potatoes not only make for easy-peasy serving to your little one, they’re loaded with nutrients, too! Like carrots and pumpkin, sweet potatoes burst with immune- and vision-supporting vitamin A, plus plenty of fiber, manganese, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.
When serving sweet potato to your baby, be sure to mash well and remove the skin.
Mushy peas might not sound like a culinary delight to adults, but they’re an excellent choice for infants. These little green balls are one of the highest-protein veggies, with 4 grams per serving.
To serve, simply steam frozen peas and blend until pureed. You can even add a bit of breast milk for a thinner consistency.
As your baby becomes more of a solid food pro, try introducing these six veggies.
With cancer-fighting compounds and micronutrients galore, broccoli is an extremely healthy veggie for people of all ages.
Turn your baby on to this cruciferous superfood by serving steamed or roasted broccoli by itself, or add it to pasta dishes, cheesy baked potatoes, or soups cooled to room temperature.
Has your little eater cut a few teeth? Now’s the time to try cooked cauliflower! The chunky texture of this veggie in a puree (or roasted and roughly mashed) offers just the right level of challenge for new chewers.
When the summer months roll around, take advantage of a bumper crop of zucchini by feeding some to baby. Green and yellow summer squash offer mild flavor and nutrients like manganese, potassium, and vitamin A.
Try serving your baby zucchini prepared as cooked, spiralized “zoodles” with a tomato sauce or thin-sliced and pan-sautéed with a bit of olive oil.
Before long, your kiddo will likely be chowing down on all sorts of tomato-based foods like pizza and spaghetti with marinara. For now, get them started on the fresh, whole version by serving tomatoes in finely chopped pieces.
Ample water content for hydration plus vitamins C and A add to tomatoes’ value as a healthy first veggie.
Because of their pungency, you might shy away from feeding your child onions. But these aromatic alliums can be a great way to add flavor to baby’s diet without sodium or anything artificial. Try cooked onions in casseroles or mixed in with other vegetables.
We’ll be honest: Beets are an acquired taste. That said, you can make them more tempting for baby by pureeing cooked beets with fruits like blueberries or cherries.
The pigments in these colorful blends might leave baby with a red beet “mustache,” but beets’ high content of folate, manganese, and fiber are well worth it.
You can help your child take the lead in the weaning process by providing them plenty of self-feeding opportunities. Incorporate these four bite-sized, easily grasped veggies in baby-led weaning (BLW).
When first starting with baby-led weaning, opt for softer foods. They’re easier for baby to gnaw, which may allay your concerns about choking. (Still, carefully supervise your baby during mealtimes.)
With their tender texture and sweet taste, pieces of cooked butternut squash are an excellent first round of BLW. Dust cooked pieces with cinnamon for even more flavor.
Fun fact: Ounce for ounce, bell peppers contain more vitamin C than oranges! This important vitamin not only strengthens the immune system, it acts as an anti-inflammatory antioxidant.
Give baby’s health a leg up by letting them self-feed diced bell peppers. If the peppers’ strong flavor gets a negative reaction, try serving them with cheese or hummus.
There’s nothing quite so refreshing as a cool, crunchy cucumber. These veggies’ cooling sensation can be especially soothing for babies’ teething gums. To reduce the risk of choking, peel the skin off of cucumbers and dice them into small pieces as part of baby-led weaning.
Everyone knows that popping edamame beans out of their shells is half the fun of eating these tender legumes. However, for baby-led weaning, start by placing shelled, slightly mashed edamame on the high chair tray. Their high protein content will fuel baby’s playtime, as well as build muscle tissue.
Vegetables are among the healthiest foods on the planet. Could anything go wrong with feeding them to your baby?
For very young children, there are some safety concerns about nitrates — compounds certain vegetables absorb from soil.
When babies consume excessive amounts of nitrates, it can lead to a condition called methemoglobinemia. Babies with this condition may develop a blue tinge on their hands, feet, and mouth, and may have fatigue and difficulty breathing.
If your baby has any of these symptoms — especially shortness of breath — seek medical attention immediately.
Root vegetables like beets and carrots and leafy greens (especially spinach) do contain relatively high levels of nitrates. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feed these healthy veggies to your baby when they start solids.
Older research from 2005 shows that high amounts of nitrates from vegetables are primarily harmful to babies 3 months of age and younger — but since it’s not recommended to introduce solid foods until around 6 months, this is likely to be a nonissue.
- Baby carrots. “Baby” may be in their name, but baby carrots are not a good choice for infants. Their size and hardness make them a choking hazard.
- Raw celery. The stringy fibers of raw celery can easily lodge in a baby’s throat. If you choose to serve your baby celery, be sure it’s cooked thoroughly and cut into small pieces.
- Corn. Creamed or pureed corn is fine for infants, but avoid serving the small, chewy kernels by themselves.
- Any hard, raw vegetables. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, chunks of raw vegetables remain a choking hazard until children reach the age of 4 years.
As with any food group, you may run into snags when introducing your child to the wide and colorful world of veggies. Although allergies to vegetables are rare and no vegetable is among the top eight food allergens, it’s always possible for a child to have an allergic reaction to any food.
If your baby has symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing, hives, or a rash after eating a particular vegetable, talk to your pediatrician about the possibility of an allergy or food sensitivity.
Contrary to the stereotypes, getting your kid to eat their vegetables doesn’t have to be an epic battle of the wills. By introducing a wide variety of veggies and preparations from a young age, you’ll give your little one the best chance of developing a veggie-loving palate.
Even if your high chair gourmand spurns spinach or turns up a nose at turnips, don’t despair! Keep at it. The more you expose your child to any food, the more likely they are to eventually accept (and even enjoy) it.
5 Ways to Encourage Eating Veggies
I’m excited to share a guest post today from two fellow Registered Dietitians. Read on for 5 tips to encourage your infant to eat vegetables, and great ways to serve vegetables to babies.
I can’t wait to try that recipe out on Riese – and tip #3 below, too!
If you’re interested in learning more about baby led weaning, or looking for recipes or ways to encourage infants to eat more vegetables and plant-based foods, this post is for you!
Please note there are affiliate links in this post.How to Encourage Babies to Eat More Vegetables
guest post by Whitney English Tabaie MS, RDN and Alexandra Caspero MA, RDN, Creators of Plant-Based Juniors
As new parents, we were only vaguely aware of the term “baby-led weaning” before we were thrusted into the new-mom community and saw many of our friends doing it.
Isn’t that the funny thing about becoming a parent?
Suddenly, the things you never knew you cared about become all you think about. AM feedings quickly become optimal research times, scrolling on our phone in the dark looking for answers to the day’s questions.
(Related: check out my post about the best natural and organic personal care products to use for babies and toddlers, plus other Products I Recommend for New Babies + Expectant Mamas)
If you’re not sure what baby-led weaning means, let us explain.
It’s essentially the concept of giving babies solid food right from the start–without the use of spoon-feeding purees.
However, the term “weaning” can often be confusing. We aren’t weaning them off breast milk or formula as you’ll still want to offer that until at least the first birthday. Instead, it refers to gently weaning baby on to solid foods, allowing him time to explore various flavors and textures.
In our new ebook, Plant-Based Juniors: First Bites, we outline everything you need to know about baby-led weaning, from how to start, troubleshooting, nutrition, meal prep, a grocery list and more. We also include 20 delicious plant-based, baby-led weaning recipes. (Interested? Use code ‘pbjpartner’ for 10% off your own copy.)
While there are a few advantages of offering solids right from the start, we think the biggest plus is increased acceptance of more interesting and varied flavors and textures since babies get to experience food in its natural state.
Think of your baby’s palate like a blank canvas, easily shaped by each new taste and experience. As dietitians and parents, we’re focused on shaping that palate to enjoy all foods, especially nutrient-rich foods like vegetables.
Therefore, whatever approach to feeding you take, we recommend adding vegetables at almost every meal.
Studies have shown that babies who eat a wide variety of vegetables during the first year of life go onto eat more vegetables than those that don’t. Sweet-tasting vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes might be more accepted than bitter-tasting vegetables but that’s OK.
Continuing to offer vegetables in different ways helps improve acceptability.
Want more ideas?
Tips to get babies to eat more vegetables
- Vary your own diet
Breastfeeding? Then your diet may be just as important as baby’s!
According to recent studies, babies are more likely to enjoy the foods their moms ate while breastfeeding over new foods they were never exposed to. If you are nursing, here’s one more reason to pile on the vegetables.
- Add spice to vegetables
Yes, babies like flavor!
We don’t know where the idea of bland baby food came from, but it likely wasn’t from a baby! Season baby’s food the same way you would yours.
All seasonings are on the table, except for salt, sugar and anything too spicy. Experimenting with different spice blends is a great way to expose your baby to new flavors.
- Make superfood baby popsicles with vegetables
We consider popsicles to be the perfect place for leftover smoothies and green juices – throw them into a popsicle mold, freeze and you’re done!
Since whole leafy greens can be a choking hazard for young infants, serving them blended in popsicle form is a great solution!
There’s a full recipe in the e-book, but we like to make superfood popsicles with spinach or kale, fruit, and breast milk or formula. A bonus point is that popsicles are a nice treat for teething babes!
More popsicle ideas: Watermelon Rosemary Popsicles (leave out the honey for babies under 1) and Nectarine Ice Pops (leave out the maple syrup, babies don’t need the extra sugar).
- Offer your baby vegetables often
The key to acceptability?
Making vegetables part of the everyday routine.
This is true for kids of all ages, the more they are exposed to veggies; the more they are willing to try them.
We like to offer a vegetable in some form at every meal; it doesn’t need to be fancy – even steamed broccoli or finely chopped spinach in scrambled eggs works!
- Try serving veggies in a dip
We all know that kids love dips!
If your baby is less than a year old, dollop the vegetable dip onto steamed vegetable fingers or spread a thin layer on toast or simply put a dollop on a baby spoon and let them grab it themselves.
For older kids, offer the dip alongside items you know they will eat. For infants, omit any salt in recipes completely as their growing kidneys don’t need it. For older kids and adults, add salt to taste.
Here are a couple dip recipes to try with your kids: Savory Pumpkin Bean Dip + Avocado White Bean Hummus with Lemon.
Want more baby led weaning friendly recipes? Be sure to check out the e-book First Bites! In addition to helpful info about starting your baby on solids, it’s packed with 20 delicious plant-based recipes that can be used for baby-led weaning and beyond the first year. Use code ‘pbjpartner’ for 10% off.
Other posts from my blog you might enjoy:
- Baby Led Weaning Foods + Tips
What vegetables can be given to a child for complementary foods
- Polina Alexandrovna, what is complementary foods?
Complementary foods are foods that are different from the breast milk or formula that a child is used to receiving. Complementary foods are a gradual transition from dairy nutrition to a common table.
— In what cases is it recommended to start complementary foods with vegetables rather than cereals or fruits?
- WHO does not give specific recommendations, since different countries have different menus. The Union of Pediatricians of Russia recommends vegetable purees or cereals as the first complementary foods.
- Introduction of complementary foods up to 6 months, constipation tendency or excessive weight gain in the child - it is recommended to start with vegetable complementary foods.
- The introduction of complementary foods at 6 months, insufficient weight gain or frequent stools in a child is a reason to prepare porridge to start complementary foods.
— What vegetables should I start complementary foods with and how to introduce a second vegetable into my baby’s complementary foods?
- For the first feeding, hypoallergenic vegetables are recommended, which are less likely to cause allergies - zucchini, cauliflower or broccoli. Which vegetable from the list will be the first, and which next - it doesn’t matter, you can focus on the feelings of the child and the convenience of the mother.
- Polina Alexandrovna, vegetable puree or juice with pulp - which is more useful, how to combine?
- Fruit and vegetable juices are not recommended as the first feeding - they have much less fiber, dietary fiber compared to vegetable purees. In addition, the sugar from the juice is absorbed quickly and the concentration of sugar in the blood rises sharply. Therefore, basically complementary foods begin with monocomponent vegetable purees.
In the future, juices may be present in the baby's diet, and they can be combined with vegetables. But if the mother introduces juice, then let the child not give anything new. It is impossible to introduce several different products into one meal - if the baby is given vegetable puree and fruit juice at the same time, then with an allergic or other reaction, the mother does not understand what she came to.
— How many vegetables to give in the first feedings?
- The introduction of new products in the first feeding begins with the so-called microdose - this is ½ or one teaspoon. On the second day, the portion increases to 2-3 teaspoons. In a week, its volume is brought to the age norm. The main thing is to increase the portion gradually.
- What time of day to give vegetable complementary foods - is it considered better in the second feeding?
- By and large, this is fair and convenient - they began to give vegetables to the child for lunch and continued to do so after expanding the diet. Neither mother nor child will have to change the structure of feeding and rebuild.
You can give such complementary foods at other times, but remember the rule - to introduce new products in the morning and monitor the reaction of the child. When the introduction of porridge begins, vegetables will shift to a later meal, and porridge to an earlier one.
- Do I need to add formula milk or breast milk to the puree?
- Breast milk and infant formula are not added to puree. But vegetables are less satisfying than dairy food, so the child can receive supplementary feeding with mother's milk or formula immediately after taking vegetable puree. In this case, it is necessary to observe the age norm for breastfeeding or artificial feeding.
- Is it correct to give vegetables first and then breast milk/formula or vice versa?
- When introducing complementary foods, the child does not yet know that, in addition to breast or bottle, you can get enough in another way. If breast or formula is given first, the baby will be full by the time mom gives vegetables. The kid with great pleasure and interest tries unusual food when he is hungry.
- Is there a procedure for introducing vegetables into complementary foods by months?
- The scheme and sequence of introducing vegetables for complementary foods is simple - you need to start with hypoallergenic foods, expand the diet with vegetables that are more likely to cause childhood allergies:
- zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli - 4-6 months;
- pumpkin, carrot, potato - 6 months;
- beets, tomatoes and other vegetables - 7-8 months.
Interesting: according to my mother, vegetable puree of industrial production is less tasty than homemade. In practice, many babies refuse homemade puree and are happy to eat ready-made complementary foods from the first spoon.
- How to cook vegetables for feeding babies on your own?
- When preparing baby food, mom needs:
- minimum water to cover vegetables;
- cook vegetables under the lid for a minimum period of time without overcooking them - this way nutrients and vitamins are preserved to the maximum;
- when grinding, add the decoction to the puree - then its consistency will not be very dense; grind the product carefully - there should be no pieces and unground parts in the puree.
- How long does the cooked puree last?
- The recommendations will be the same as for the factory puree. For more than a day, self-prepared baby food is not stored. And the food that you still plan to give your child is better not to put it in the refrigerator door with the highest possible temperature, but on the middle shelves.
- Where can I get proven recipes and which sources should I trust?
- In the nutrition of a child under one year old, there is no question of special dishes. Vegetables are boiled or steamed without salt. It is important to introduce vegetables into the child's diet according to his age. Mom can also focus on preferred flavor combinations.
- Polina Aleksandrovna, what vegetables should not be given to babies?
- There are no vegetables that cannot be given to a child under one year old (allergies often occur on berries and red fruits - they are not recommended to be tried). After eight months, the baby gets acquainted with almost all vegetables.
Things to look out for:
- Bright red vegetables have a higher potential for allergy. We introduce the baby to such vegetables later.
- It is difficult to choose quality vegetables. An allergic reaction may occur not to a vegetable, but to the substances with which it is processed.
Advice for mom: Use ready-made commercially produced complementary foods for children or buy vegetables from trusted sellers.
MAMAKO ® ORGANIC cereals are a combination of organic cereals and fruits and 32% ORGANIC farm goat milk.
— What if the child does not like vegetables?
- When a child is reluctant to eat vegetables, you should not force him - the more you force, the more the baby resists attempts to feed him. Your child will not immediately appreciate the vegetable you give. It is important to offer him mashed potatoes regularly and persistently enough, but not overdo it. If the child does not like one vegetable during the week, offer another. In addition, vegetable puree from different manufacturers has different tastes, and you can choose the one that your baby will like.
Advice for mom: Even if you haven't started complementary foods yet, your baby needs to be introduced to the culture of eating. Dine with your baby - he is interested in seeing what mom and dad are eating, and he should want to try adult food and join the general diet.
— What vegetable dishes can be offered to older children?
- Firstly, older children eat no longer homogeneous puree. Every month we offer the child larger and denser pieces (at first small and soft, so that the baby can easily chew them, and then, when he begins to chew well enough, larger pieces).
Secondly, a child of 7-8 months gets acquainted with new dishes (soups, dairy products). And at this age, goat's milk cream soup with pumpkin or spinach is well suited for a children's diet.
At the stage of preparation for the introduction of complementary foods, it is important not to miss the food interest - you should introduce the baby to meals and introduce him to the exciting process. When your baby is ready, you can offer him hypoallergenic vegetables in a gentle vegetable puree. After the baby falls in love with some vegetables, his diet will gradually be enriched. And let the process of expanding the menu of your little gourmet be interesting along with healthy and tasty vegetable cream soups MAMAKO ® .
* Breast milk is the best food for babies. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of a child's life and continued breastfeeding after complementary foods are introduced until the age of 2 years. Before introducing new products into the baby's diet, you should consult with a specialist. The material is for informational purposes and cannot replace the advice of a healthcare professional. For feeding children from birth.
Vegetables and fruits for the baby. When and what to give?
Babies grow fast and therefore need a lot of nutrients. By the age of 6 months, usually, the baby receives everything he needs with his mother's milk or formula. But this is only up to 6 months of age, and then, according to WHO recommendations, the child's diet should be supplemented with complementary foods.
The first foods offered to a child at 6 months of age may be cereal, vegetable or fruit puree.
Regarding the introduction of vegetables and fruits, there are different opinions about whether it is better to give vegetables or fruits first.
Vegetables or fruits?
Pediatricians often recommend starting your baby's introduction with mashed vegetables, because fruit is sweeter and some children may refuse vegetables later on. In fact, it is very individual. An important argument in favor of vegetables is the fact that fruits are not the main meal and, therefore, they can be offered as a snack, dessert, or added to cereals and sour-milk products.
But vegetable puree is introduced into the baby's diet as the main dish, to which meat will be added later.
To get the most out of new foods, no matter what kind, introduce them to your baby in the right way.
How to choose fruits and vegetables for a baby?
For the first acquaintance, it is advisable to use the vegetables of our climatic zone: zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, pumpkin, potatoes, squash. Give preference to seasonal vegetables. You need to start with one type of vegetable, and only after the child has received each of them separately, you can mix them.
Pediatricians recommend apples, peaches, apricots, plums as the first fruits.
What is better to choose: mashed potatoes in jars or cook it yourself?
There is no unequivocal opinion on this issue either among doctors or mothers.
Many people find that homemade vegetable or fruit puree is healthier because it retains nutrients, vitamins and minerals better.
Another part of the experts argue that modern growing conditions do not guarantee the safety of fruits and vegetables for young children, as they may contain a large amount of nitrates or pesticides.
Unfortunately, if vegetables and fruits are not from your own garden and you do not know where and how they were grown and how they were processed, then it is better to give preference to children's vegetable or fruit puree from jars.
Preference is given to industrial purees even when the beginning of acquaintance with vegetables and fruits falls outside the season of vegetables and fruits. If winter and zucchini are only imported, and apples have been stored in vegetable stores for quite a long time, then they are unlikely to be safe for a small child.
According to modern requirements for baby food products, vegetables and fruits for commercial baby foods are grown in special raw materials zones without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Modern production technologies make it possible to preserve vitamins and minerals as much as possible and provide the necessary consistency, in accordance with the characteristics of the digestive system and chewing apparatus of the baby.
Industrial purees also allow you to choose your baby's favorite vegetable or fruit, regardless of the season.
If you have your own garden and grow organically, you can confidently prepare vegetable and fruit dishes at home.
How to prepare vegetables and fruits for a baby at home?
When preparing vegetables and fruits, observe the following rules:
- select only good, undamaged, fresh vegetables and fruits
- wash them thoroughly before cooking
- cook just before feeding your baby.
For a child of the first year of life, vegetables are boiled or cooked in a double boiler without salt and pepper. Grind with a blender or carefully grind to a homogeneous creamy consistency. If the puree is too thick, you can add a little vegetable broth in which the vegetables were boiled.
Vegetable puree is given warm, the optimum temperature of the puree for feeding is 37 - 38ºС.
Fruit can be given fresh or baked in the oven. But like vegetables, fruits should be chopped and peeled.
Fruit can be grated on a plastic grater or chopped in a blender. The grater or blender must be poured over with boiling water before preparing the puree!
When the child has 6-8 teeth, you can give a piece of fruit and he will eat it on his own.
Remember not to chase exotic fruits as they can cause an allergic reaction in your baby. Useful substances are better absorbed from fruits that are traditional for our climatic zone.
How many fruits and vegetables does a baby need?
A child can eat only a certain amount of vegetable and fruit puree per day in order to avoid indigestion. This amount depends on the age of the baby.
Approximate recommended daily allowance for vegetable puree is
50-100g for 6 month old baby, 150g for 7 month old baby, 170-180g for 8-9 month old baby, and from 10 to 12 months the amount of vegetable puree can be increased up to 200 g *.
Your pediatrician will help you determine the right amount of puree for your baby.
But, regardless of the age of the child, acquaintance with each new product should begin with no more than 1 teaspoon and gradually increase to the recommended age norm!
A child needs 2 times less fruit purees than vegetables.
Children at 6 months can consume 40-50g of fruit puree, at 7-8 months 50-70g, at 9-12 months 80-100g*.
What to combine vegetables and fruits with?
Vegetable and fruit purees are low-protein complementary foods, therefore they are given as an independent dish for no more than 2 weeks, then it is necessary to enrich them with high-protein foods.
Pediatricians recommend combining vegetable puree with meat supplements, thanks to which the baby will receive a rational, easily digestible lunch.
Fruit is good to combine with soft cheese, if it has already been introduced into the baby's diet, or added to milk or dairy-free cereals.