By Tina Ruggiero MS, RD
When your little bundle of joy is ready to start eating solid food, rice cereals are the ideal first foods, but after cereals become well tolerated, it’s time to progress to fresh fruit and vegetables. Contrary to popular belief, babies will gladly eat vegetables; it’s just a matter of how they’re introduced. Another popular myth is that you should serve vegetables before fruit, so your baby doesn’t refuse the savory flavors of vegetables in favor of the naturally-sweet tastes of fruit. Not the case at all.
Root vegetables in particular are excellent “first vegetables” for baby, because they’re sweet. Root vegetables including carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, yams and white potatoes each puree to a smooth, creamy texture and provide a seamless transition to stage two vegetables such as squash, zucchini and beans.
To ensure your baby doesn’t become a picky eater, here are ten suggestions that will have your little tyke going ga-ga for veggies!
o Vegetables are inexpensive and nutritious, so do-it-yourself baby food is the way to go. It’s kind to your wallet as well as the planet, and more nutritious than commercial baby food.
o For peak flavor, freshness, nutrition, select in-season produce.
o Vegetables should always be washed and scrubbed thoroughly, peeled, seeded (if necessary) and then pureed.
o You can roast, microwave or steam vegetables, but don’t be afraid to boil them; vegetable juice can be used to thin purees, make delicious soups and broths or be frozen to use in recipes at a later date.
o Purchase a colorful assortment of produce, to ensure baby is getting plenty of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
o Offering baby an assortment of tastes and textures has more than just nutritional benefits; it means baby will be more willing to like these foods later on.
o Try combining fruits with vegetables for a new twist on baby’s favorites! For example, puréed sweet potatoes mixed with pureed pears makes a tasty combination your baby will eat up.
o Introduce one vegetable at a time, so you can tell if your baby has an allergic reaction to a specific food.
o Begin with 1 T of vegetables, and gradually increase the amount to 2 – 4 T twice daily, depending on your baby’s appetite.
o Tomatoes can be very acidic, so wait until your little one is nearly 12 months old before introducing him to this vegetable. If there aren’t any allergies or intolerances that run in the family, you can try serving the tomato earlier.
TRY THIS GREAT RECIPE, BELOW!
Naturally Nutritious Lentil Mash
Lentils are a legume, or bean, and they’re an inexpensive source of protein. While not all beans are the same in terms of protein quality, lentils are among the best to enjoy.
½ cup (100 g) cooked brown lentils
1 small potato, peeled, cubed and cooked
4 baby carrots, sliced and cooked
1 small stalk celery, sliced and cooked
1 tablespoon (14 g) butter, softened
Place lentils, potato, carrots, and celery in a bowl. Add the butter and mash with a fork. Divide the leftovers into small portions and freeze, if you wish.
Yield: 4 baby servings, ¼ cup each
Nutrition Analysis: Each serving contains: 81.3 calories; 2.7 g total fat; 2.0 grams saturated fat; 7.5 mg cholesterol; 18.5 mg sodium; 11.5 g carbohydrates; 2.2 g dietary fiber; 2.3 g protein; 14.4 mg calcium; 0.8 mg iron; 937.8 IU vitamin A; and 5.9 mg vitamin C.
Tina Ruggiero is a Registered Dietitian with a Masters Degree in nutrition and 17 years of experience as a practitioner, consultant, spokesperson and journalist. Her interest in children and preventive health provided inspiration for her new best-seller, The Best Homemade Baby Food On The Planet . The book’s intent is to provide parents everywhere with the tools they need to position their children for a lifetime of good health and wellbeing. You can follow Tina on Twitter (@Tina_Ruggiero), friend her on Facebook, read her blog, or sign up for The Gourmet Baby, her free e-newsletter.