Here are some quick, easy, and approachable ideas and recipes to add vegetables for babies six months and up!
Don’t Feel Overwhelmed!
For this post, I’m focusing on vegetables because it’s one of, if not, the main food groups that parents struggle with getting their child to eat. Exposing them to variety from early on can really help increase acceptance and likeability for them as they continue to grow.
This doesn’t mean that you have to introduce a different vegetable every single day or at every meal! In this post, I want to share my approach in hopes that it will help make this important task less daunting and absolutely achievable!
Baby Led Weaning Vegetables
Where to Start
First, let’s address one of the most common questions I receive is – should I introduce fruits or vegetables first?
This was tremendously helpful for me in easing into the world of introducing solids without feeling overwhelmed. As parents, we desire SO much to do everything and to do it perfectly (which doesn’t exist) from the start, don’t we?
I remember seeing all these pictures of babies being served mini veggie-loaded frittata, muffins, pancakes, and all kinds of “fancy” concoctions, and I just didn’t have the time or the mental energy to do that at the time.
But steaming, roasting, or steam roasting vegetables so that they’re easily smooshable with my fingers and finger-shaped (about 1.5 times as long as baby’s fist)….Now THAT I could do.
If you’re anything like me, take baby steps! And as you become more comfortable and efficient, you will gradually build the foundational habits necessary. After all, we’re going to be feeding our kids for a VERY long time.
If you need more specific guidance,
Let’s Build! Suggested Workflow
Once I started to find my footing, slowly got over the fear of choking, learned to trust my baby’s innate ability to work through foods, among many other things, I began to incorporate the vegetables in different ways.
Here’s my workflow that continues to serve me well:
- Meal Plan for the week. I don’t plan every single meal and snack. Instead, I come up with 2 main meals and 2 baked goods that I commit to making. For the rest of the meals, I utilize leftovers and whatever pantry meals I can whip up easily (think quesadillas, fried rice, stir-fry, etc.).
- Go grocery shopping.
- Cook a large batch of vegetables to enjoy throughout the week. I normally do this once every 3-4 days or so.
- Use those same vegetables in various ways to invite variety. I walk you through how to do this in my “Subtract, Multiply, Diversity” FREE 5-day series mentioned above. Since they’re already cooked, it doesn’t take much additional time and effort to throw them into snacks/meals.
Vegetable Recipes for Babies
Here are some examples from the actual meals I served to my baby C. I say recipes but a lot of them are ideas and inspirations that you can easily incorporate into your baby (and toddler’s) diet.
Not only will you be exposing your baby to more variety but will also be helping improve fine-motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Cook the vegetables and simply mash with a fork. You can serve alone or mixed in with other foods, like avocado, minced meat, oatmeal, yogurt, ground nuts or seeds, beans, lentils, fruits, or other vegetables!
Let them go at it with their hands. Getting messy is an important part of self-feeding. But bless your heart. Things will be hairy for a while. You have been warned ;).
Added to Dips/Sauces
Serve as is and have your baby scoop with their hands or preload onto a spoon and hand it to them (really love these). You can also pour over pasta, grains, bread, or cooked vegetables!
Here are some recipes to try:
- Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Dip
- Beetroot pesto
- Nut-Free Broccoli White Bean Dip
- Bibimbap Sauce
- Creamy Greek Yogurt Black Bean Dip
Added to Baked Goods
Muffins, frittatas, meatballs, quiche, breads, cookies…I definitely did a TON of baking. I have a feeling you will too.
Here are some readers’ favorites:
- Carrot Banana Oatmeal Cookies
- Spinach baby Pancakes
- Veggie-loaded Baby Muffins
- Zucchini Bread Breakfast Cookies
- Turkey Beet Meatballs
- Salmon Quiche
Added to Family Meals
One meal for the whole family! That’s the goal! Depending on your baby’s age and developmental skills, you’ll need to make some adjustments.
First, you need to watch out for sodium. Instead of cooking with salt, flavor with herbs/spices. Look for low- or no-salt-added products, like canned tomatoes, beans, stock, etc. Limit packaged foods. Also limit sugar.
Slow cooker or pressure cooker meals are so great! Everything comes out soft and moist and super flavorful with minimal effort.
Deconstructed tacos/sandwiches. Serve all the components, including vegetables, separately.
Casseroles. They’re sticky and easy for babies to scoop with their hands and also a great way to pack in so many vegetables.
One Pot Meals. My e-cookbook One Pot Meals is filled with baby-friendly family meals with no added salt and sugar but plenty flavorful for the entire family to enjoy.
Now there are so many wonderful recipes out there that you can try. But what if I told you that you could easily whip up any veggie-loaded baby-friendly foods with the ingredients you have on hand without relying so heavily on recipes?
Enter formula-based cooking.
What does this approach to cooking accomplish?
- Saves you time
- Helps you learn to use up everything in your fridge and pantry in yummy and creative ways
- Reduces food waste
- Less reliance on pre-packaged items
- Teaches you to easily build flavor with spices, oils, vinegars, etc. I promise this skill will come the more you experiment with these flavoring agents.
- Stimulates creativity
- Boosts confidence
- Makes offering variety fun and totally doable!
In my e-cookbook, “Veggie-Centered Delights,” you’ll find basic formulas for whipping up veggie-loaded:
- Bean Dips
- Yogurt Dips
- One Pot Pasta
I provide you with specific serving sizes/quantities for all the individual components as well as recipes for each category to help get you started! But you don’t need to follow it to a T. Once you get comfortable, you can add a little more of this or a little less of that depending on your preference. These formulas are very flexible and forgiving.