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The 5 Best Veggies for Babies

By Jill Castle, MS, RDN

Fresh, frozen, or even canned (and rinsed), many veggies stand out when it comes to their nutritional quality. Packed with nutrients and fiber and low on calories, veggies should be part of every baby’s daily diet. Research shows that when a baby is exposed early and frequently to vegetables, their inclination to like them is increased. Don’t be afraid to serve veggies with flavor (butter, olive oil, or spices), as this can enhance acceptance and add needed calories for growth and development, as well.

Here are five favorite veggies to introduce to baby:

Sweet potato—You can introduce sweet potato between 4 and 6 months of age. Sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients including vitamins A, C, and B6 as well as iron, thiamin, potassium, phosphorus, and more. Yes, a true nutrient powerhouse for baby but with other advantages: sweet potato transitions well through the first year of feeding. It’s easy to puree, fork mash, boil, or roast, making it easy for baby to eat from a spoon, with a spoon, and even self-feed when older (think sweet potato fries!).

Peas—Green peas are a no-brainer for babies aged 4-6 months. A showstopper for nutrients, with vitamins A, C, K, B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), folate, iron, and zinc, to name a few. If you’re serving them for family dinner, pop them into the blender and puree. Remember, cooked and pureed fresh veggies have a fresh flavor baby will enjoy. Frozen green peas are great for the older baby who has an active pincer grasp, too.

Green beans—Introduce green beans between 4 and 6 months. Green beans have a mild flavor that babies typically accept. While we think of jarred, pureed green beans from the grocery store, it’s easy to cook them with a little chicken broth, butter, or olive oil to flavor them up and puree them in the blender—especially if you are eating them as a family. As baby gets older, steam them soft, and let baby munch on one bean at a time.

Broccoli—Broccoli can be offered between 6 and 8 months and is a great source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium (plus a whole lot more!). Don’t be afraid to branch out with flavor when cooking any vegetable! If available, use soy sauce, garlic, salt, vegetable broth, or spices, as these expose your baby’s palate to a wider variety of flavors. Some babies may still be on puree, but most likely you’re stepping up the texture at this age—use a fork to mash broccoli for a coarser, lumpy consistency.

Winter squash (butternut, spaghetti, acorn, pumpkin)—The best thing about winter squash is the variety! You can introduce any winter squash between 6 and 8 months, and you’ll be giving baby important nutrients like vitamins A, C, folate, potassium, and manganese. These squash are easy to puree for spoon-feeding, fork-mash for building texture, and chop into a small dice for early self-feeding!

Sources:

  • Castle & Jacobsen, Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School, 2013. Mennella et al
  • Complementary foods and flavor experiences: Setting the foundation
  • Ann Nutr & Metab
  • 2012.

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