The Power of Vegetables as First Foods (Tips on Weaning from the Experts)

Jenny Rosborough & Catherine Lippe

Jenny is Head of Nutrition at the Jamie Oliver Group. She’s worked in early years and child nutrition, training health professionals to deliver healthy lifestyle programmes all over the world. Catherine is a paediatric nutritionist with over 10 years’ experience. She offers tailored advice on child nutrition including: weaning, fussy eating, and nutrition for pregnancy and breastfeeding.

It’s recommended that ‘complementary feeding’ (also known as weaning), where food is introduced alongside your baby’s usual milk, should begin at around six months. This is an important window for exploring new flavours and textures and developing future taste preferences. To optimise on this key time for introducing new foods, especially vegetables, keep in mind these tips:
  • Offer single vegetables on their own for at least the first two weeks.
  • Start with bitter flavours, e.g. broccoli, cabbage, kale, spinach, green beans.
  • Avoid offering the same vegetable on consecutive days.
  • Re-offer vegetables frequently to increase familiarisation with each food. If your baby is reluctant to try new foods, don’t be put off – just try again next mealtime.
  • Don’t be tempted to disguise the vegetables with sweeter flavours, like fruit.
  • Vegetables can be pureed or given as finger foods. It’s important to progress to thicker textures and lumps as soon as your baby indicates that they are ready.
  • Look out for signs of fullness, such as your baby clamping their mouth shut, turning away or becoming disinterested in the food. Stop here and try again next time.
  • Encourage your baby to have fun with their food, to help them become more familiar with it.
  • Explore food through looking, touching and smelling.
  • Eat together and offer praise. Smile, make eye contact, relax and make yummy noises!

Try these perfect first foods for weaning: Green beans, broccoli, avocado, courgette, cabbage, kale, spinach, peas, runner beans, asparagus, cauliflower, carrots, butternut squash, swede, parsnip, peppers, and mushrooms.

Or give these simple weaning recipes a go:

Simple Broccoli Puree Ingredients: 1 small head of broccoli Method:
  1. Wash and chop the broccoli head into florets. Place the florets in a saucepan with a small amount of boiling water (enough to cover the bottom of the pan). Cover with a lid and steam until soft (approximately 5-7 minutes).
  2. Place the steamed broccoli in a food processor or blender and pulse until you have reached the desired consistency.
Tip: Freeze leftover puree in ice cubes trays. Leftover puree can be kept in the fridge for 1-2 days or in the freezer for 1-2 months. Vegetable Bolognese (from 7 months onwards) Makes approximately 12 portions (will vary depending on the age and stage of your baby) Ingredients: 1 teaspoon vegetable oil 1 small onion, finely diced 1 green pepper, washed, deseeded and finely diced 1 small courgette, washed and finely chopped 3 mushrooms, washed and finely chopped 1 can (400g) chopped tomatoes 1 can (400g) cooked green lentils, drained Method:
  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion until soft.
  2. Add the pepper, courgette and mushrooms and cook until softened (approximately 5-7 minutes), stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the tomatoes and lentils and simmer until all the vegetables are tender.
  4. Mash the bolognese until you achieve the desired texture for your baby.
  5. Serve with baby pasta, mashed pasta or large pasta shapes, e.g. rigatoni, as finger foods.
Tip: Leftover bolognese can be kept in the fridge for 1-2 days or in the freezer for 1-2 months.

Sharing is caring!