How to introduce green vegetables to your baby may be a question on your mind if you have a new eater. Here are some of the benefits of greens for babies and how to incorporate them.
It’s no secret that green vegetables offer tons of health benefits at any age.
While there are some considerations with how to introduce them to young babies, greens are a great way to incorporate vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals into your child’s diet.
Health Benefits of Green Vegetables
Green vegetables offer a number of benefits for all of us, especially for developing minds and bodies.
Dark leafy greens, like Swiss chard, collard and mustard greens, kale, spinach, and broccoli, are rich in:
- Folate, a B vitamin needed for energy, RNA, and DNA production, making red and white blood cells, supporting brain health, and preventing neural tube defects in newborns.
- Vitamin K, which plays an integral role in bone health and blood clotting, and regulating blood calcium levels.
- Vitamin C, necessary for producing collagen, wound healing, promoting iron absorption, supporting immune function, and repairing tissues.
- Calcium, needed for bone health, as well as proper muscle, nerve, and heart function.
- Vitamin A, important for growth, development, vision protection, and immune function.
Research shows that diets rich in leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli) have been associated with a lower risk for heart disease and certain cancers, and may even slow cognitive decline with aging.
Introducing your child to green veggies early in life can help him or her become more accustomed to these foods, and even develop an affinity for them as they get older.
How to Introduce Greens to Babies
The most important thing to remember when introducing first foods is that they should be offered in an age appropriate texture and consistency. Raw uncooked greens, especially the leafy ones, can be a choking hazard and should be avoided for new eaters.
Still, green veggies like broccoli, spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, green beans, and peas, can be cooked and pureed to make sure they’re safe for younger kids to eat.
Steaming and boiling these foods can work well to soften them before pureeing or blending them. We recommend then using a strainer to remove any large chunks from cooked and pureed greens before offering them to babies.
Prepared green veggies can be mixed with other foods to add more flavor and nutrients at meal times.
For instance, they can be mixed with avocado, mashed potatoes, or cooked grains like quinoa or rice. Your baby may also like strips of toast spread with hummus and pureed, strained greens.
We also like using cooked greens in fruity breast milk popsicles for new eaters. It’s a great way to introduce bitter greens! You can find the recipe in our Ebook, First Bites: The Definitive Guide to Baby-Led Weaning for Plant-Based Babies.
Recipes Using Green Vegetables
As your child learns to enjoy green veggies, you can start becoming more creative with the ways you expose them.
Here are some of our favorite recipes incorporating healthy green veggies that the whole family can enjoy together:
- Healthy Creamed Spinach
- Vegan Spinach Lasagna with Cashew Ricotta
- Baby Led Weaning Muffins
- Vegan Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese with Broccoli
- Anti-Inflammatory Green Smoothie
If you’re wondering how to introduce green vegetables to your baby, and the benefits of greens for babies, we hope that some of these tips and ideas will help!
Chime In: Does your family enjoy green veggies? What is your favorite way to to prepare them?
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Do you have other smoothie recipes you recommend? We are trying to incorporate both greens and the Ripple milk.
This is the smoothie Alex makes almost every morning — milk of choice, handful of greens (usually spinach/kale), 1 frozen banana, 1 T chia seeds, hemp seeds or flax seeds, 1 T nut butter, 1 cup frozen berries, sprinkle of cinnamon.