Preparing vegetables for baby

Fresh New Zealand vegetables – what a great start in life!

Fresh New Zealand vegetables offer many different tastes and textures and come packed with nutrients which give your baby a head start on good health.

Vegetables for babies at 6 months

When babies reach 6 months, they are ready for other foods to be introduced into their diet. It is recommended breastfeeding be continued until they are at least a year old. A baby fed on infant formula needs to have formula milk until they are about a year old.

Vegetables should be eaten daily from 6 months (Ministry of Health, 2008).

Don’t give up on introducing new vegetables. It can take up 8-15 tries before baby is ready to accept a new taste (Ministry of Health, 2008).

Give your child a love of vegetables by introducing puréed vegetables at this stage.

Ministry of Health. (2008). Food and nutrition guidelines for healthy infants and toddlers (aged 0-2): a background paper. Wellington: Ministry of Health.

 

How to prepare vegetables for baby:

  1. Select good quality fresh vegetables and wash well.
  2. Peel if necessary, and cut into even-sized pieces.
  3. Boil or microwave with a small amount of water until soft. Alternatively, steam.
  4. Purée or sieve so that the vegetables are free from lumps. A hand held blender can be used.
  5. Serve warm, not hot. Always test for temperature to avoid burning your baby’s mouth. Do not add salt or sugar.
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Suggestions:

  • Cooked vegetables can be used to add moisture to dry protein food (e.g. chicken) to achieve a pureed texture for infants starting complementary solids.
  • Prepare vegetables when you have time and freeze in small portions, e.g. ice block trays.
  • Thaw a portion in the microwave or over boiling water. Stir well.
  • If using a microwave, stand vegetables for 2-3 minutes and test for temperature before serving.
  • Start with a small amount of puréed vegetables and gradually increase amount.
  • Choose first vegetables from potato, kumara, pumpkin, carrot, marrow and courgette.
  • Introduce only one new food every 3-4 days. If rejected, leave for a few days before trying again.
  • Try adding a little puréed pear or apple to the vegetables as some babies prefer this. 
  • Thin puréed vegetables by adding a small amount of expressed breast or formula milk.

Vegetables for older babies from 7-8 months

  • Food can now be mashed with a fork.
  • Offer new vegetables one at a time, maybe mixing a new one with a known favourite.
  • If a new food is rejected, try again in a few days. It can take repeated attempts for baby to accept a new food.
  • To get baby used to a wide range of vegetables and textures introduce other vegetables e.g. cauliflower, broccoli, yams, peas, swede, turnip, mushrooms, puha, taro, silverbeet and spinach.
  • Do not add salt or sugar to the vegetables.

Finger food for babies (7-8 months)

  • Little bite-sized portions of cooked vegetables make an excellent snack. This is great high chair food.
  • Young children often like the taste and texture of potatoes, kumara, pumpkin, carrot and yams.
  • Try small portions. Wash or scrub. Always peel pumpkin. Peel potato and kumara if desired.
  • A microwave is terrific for cooking small quantities. Pieces the size of a small yam will take about 50 seconds to microwave on high power. Cool before giving to baby.

Toddlers can be offered raw finger foods such as:

- whole small green beans
- celery sticks/slices
- carrot sticks/slices
- cherry tomatoes cut in half

If the child is young, wrap and tie the raw food in a piece of muslin. This will stop pieces of food breaking off. Let your child chew and suck on the food through the muslin.

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