Fruits and Vegetables for Baby

Try growing these fresh fruits and veggies in your garden and get the doctor's (and baby's) stamp of approval.

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Photo By: Image courtesy of Sam Henderson

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Make Your Own Organic Baby Food

If baby’s been reaching for your dinner plate, it may be time to introduce solid foods into your child’s diet. But before you buy stock in rice cereal and mashed bananas, try serving your gardener-in-training these fresh, safe picks you can grow in your backyard.

Is Your Child Ready for Solid Food?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends introducing solid food at the six-month mark, though some babes might be ready as early as 4-months old. Signs include being able sit up without support, the ability to grab, mimicking eating and showing interest in your food. Talk to your doctor before changing your child’s diet and introduce new foods slowly to watch for allergic reactions.

A Quick Word on Herbs and Spices

Bland food doesn’t necessarily mean “safe food.” If you’re breastfeeding, it’s likely that your child has already had a taste of the herbs and spices from your food. When adding solids to your child’s diet, it’s fine to sprinkle a little cinnamon in the applesauce or mix a little rosemary in with the mashed potatoes—as with any new introduction, start small and watch for any allergic reactions.

Peas

Peas are full of fiber and vitamins A, C, B and K. And fresh pea puree or mash from your garden tastes (and looks) better than its canned alternatives.

Carrots

The beta carotenes found in carrots help add vitamin A to your child’s diet. There’s been some debate on whether nitrates—a naturally occurring chemical found in carrots, squash, spinach and beets—can cause poisoning in infants; however, studies show that by the time solid foods are introduced, instances of nitrate poisoning reduce dramatically.

Squash

No matter the time of year, squash is a perfect pick for your baby. Zucchini, butternut and an endless variety of squash can be steamed, roasted or baked, then blended into purees.

Pumpkins

Don't forget about pumpkins! — when the cool weather creeps in and you start craving pumpkin pies and lattes, your baby will appreciate this nutrient-packed fall favorite as well. Prepare it the same way you would any other squash. Try freezing it in ice cube trays as a healthy finger food snack for children 8 months or older.

Apples

You know what they say about eating an apple a day. Try whipping up a batch of homemade applesauce or baking apple slices for children over 8 months.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes and their other colorful counterparts are usually recommended in place of regular white potatoes, as they typically contain more fiber, vitamin A and fewer calories. For baby, bake and mash well or puree—you can even add a little bit of butter and cinnamon if you and your child are comfortable with it.

Green Beans

Green beans are another vitamin A and fiber-rich green that can be added to your child's diet. Just toss tender fresh beans or frozen beans into the blender to make a bright puree.

Spinach

Dark, leafy greens boost iron and folate levels, and spinach is often at the top of the first-foods list. If you're worried about the nitrate levels contained in spinach, wait until your baby is at least 8 months old before adding the green to his or her diet.

Kale and Other Greens

Tender spinach is a fabulous option for infants, but other leafy greens like kale, chard and collards can be cooked down into a healthy puree. Unlike spinach, these greens are a little heartier and will take a few extra steps to prepare: remove the bitter stems and stalks, then steam or boil before pureeing. You may wish to add small amounts of salt to cut down on the bitterness.

Avocado

Nothing beats a fresh avocado, full of rich, creamy texture and loaded with protein and beneficial fats. Blend it, mash it or even cut it up into tiny chunks for older infants to chew on. Once your child is happy eating avocado on its own, you can add other fruits and veggies to the mix, using avocado as a base.

Peaches

Peaches are a summer favorite and a sweet treat for your baby. The juicy fruits can be blended—try roasting it before blending—or cubing it for tots who've begun feeding themselves.

Blueberries

Strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are often on the list of foods to avoid until after your child's first birthday because the seeds are difficult to digest. But blueberries, not actually "true" berries, are easier to digest, high in antioxidants and small enough to be eaten as finger food.

Beets

Like other root vegetables, beets are high in calcium, potassium and vitamin A and are a bright, colorful addition to your child's diet. Smaller beets are usually more tender and easier to digest. Remember to remove the greens and peel them before cooking for your child.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower has practically kicked kale off the "it" food podium—from gratin to soup, cauliflower can add texture and flavor to almost any dish. Plus, with vitamin A and C, its health boost is also a plus. As for your baby, its best to wait until the 8-month mark, and in small amounts, as cauliflower can give your child painful gas.

Brussels Sprouts

Like cauliflower, introduce Brussels sprouts into your child's diet with caution: the sulfur compound naturally found in the Brassica family can cause an upset stomach, so it's advised to wait until at least 8-months-old.

Pears

Pears, like apples, are another fiber and vitamin-filled fruit safe for babies. Puree or cook them down, or even cut soft pears into slices for those who can handle finger foods.

Lentils, Legumes and Beans

High in fiber and minerals, legumes also provide necessary protein for your child. Though it's best to wait until 8-9 months old, if your child has a "tough" stomach, you can try adding black beans, chick peas and butter beans as early as 6 months. Try cooking up lentils or beans for a fun finger-food dinner.