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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©2013, Image courtesy of Ben Rollins
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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?
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 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.
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.
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.
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 eight months.
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.
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.h
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.
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.
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.
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 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 eight-month mark, and in small amounts, as cauliflower can give your child painful gas.
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 eight-months-old.
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 eight to nine months old, if your child has a "tough" stomach, you can try adding black beans, chickpeas and butter beans as early as six months. Try cooking up lentils or beans for a fun finger-food dinner.