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Our Nutritionist

First Foods for Babies: Starting with Vegetables

2 min read

When parents think about the weaning journey and the first foods to offer baby, it’s often a mix of baby rice or sweet fruit purees.

However, at Babease, we’re fans of starting the weaning journey a little differently.

Recently, research has suggested that offering a variety of tastes, including more savoury and bitter flavours, may help to increase the acceptance of these foods later on in childhood and even through to adulthood.

So why are we big fans of starting with veggies? 

There are a few reasons why we recommend kicking off the weaning journey with more of a focus on veggies. Firstly because we love veg and we know that vegetables provide plenty of nutrients. We also know that older children can often reject veggies, especially those that they are not familiar with and so encouraging a liking for veggies needs to start early on. 

Babies actually have a natural preference for sweet foods, and breast and formula milk are both sweet in taste, so starting with sweeter foods, such as fruits, is often thought to be the most logical way to start introducing solid foods. 

However, baby’s first few tastes offer a great opportunity to introduce flavours that your baby is less used to – including bitter green veg. Some research suggests that between 6-12 months of age, there is a “window of opportunity” when babies are most likely to try and accept new foods. 

Even if your little one is not eating a lot during those first tastes (which is quite likely!), introducing them at this stage helps to build familiarity with the variety of flavours that you can get with veggies. This means they are no longer new and unfamiliar, and your child may be more likely to try them the next times they’re offered.

Put simply, the veg-led approach is a more modern way of starting your baby on solids, based on scientific research showing it can have a positive impact on their vegetable intakes.

Organic fruits and vegetables in a small basket

How to get started with the veg-led approach

Veg-led weaning simply means focusing on vegetables at the start of your weaning journey, and there really isn’t a right or wrong way to do it. Some experts recommend offering single tastes of a new green vegetable each day, for around the first two weeks. This can be either blended with baby’s usual milk, simply pureed veg and finger foods and/or purees.

As you progress through the single tastes, the next stage would involve combining a variety of other flavours – such as sweeter vegetables and fruits, starchy carbohydrates and iron-rich foods including beans, pulses, meat and fish. 

Good examples of bitter veg to include in these first tastes are:

  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Aubergine
  • Green beans
  • Cauliflower
  • Avocado

Always remember that all babies will progress through weaning at different paces. The most important thing is to have fun, take the pressure off and focus on offering a variety of foods to your baby throughout their weaning journey!

Charlotte Stirling-Reed

Nutrition Consultant, Babease

BSc, MSc, RNutr. Specialist in maternal, infant and child nutrition.

www.srnutrition.co.uk