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Moving Beyond First Bites: Boosting Vegetables & Protein

By By Nicole Silber, RD, CSP, CDN, Beech-Nut Pediatric Nutrition Expert

Moving Beyond First Bites: Boosting Vegetables & Protein
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Once your baby has successfully started eating solids you can start to focus on increasing the types of nutritious foods they eat, especially the veggies and protein. When we think of first foods, fruit is what usually comes to mind, as if we anticipate babies will favor fruits over veggies without even trying them!

Fruit comes with a lot of good – vitamins, minerals, and fiber. But it also comes with natural fruit sugar. Ultimately too much sugar, regardless of the source, is too much sweetness for the taste buds and the body.

The parents who participated in the Beech-Nut What Baby Eats Now Survey are among the many moms and dads out there who want their babies to eat more veggies and protein. The results of the survey are pretty remarkable:

  • 75 percent of parents feel it is important to give their infant more “superfoods” like avocado, kale, and quinoa.
  • Nearly half of the parents worry their baby won’t like vegetables.
  • 1 in 4, or 25 percent, of parents are positive their infant doesn’t like vegetables.

Using these tips and Beech-Nut Organics™ and Naturals™ baby foods, you can grow your baby into a veggie-loving, protein-craving, and adventure-seeking eater.

Introducing New Foods

Use vegetables as first foods
  • Start with mild tastes, whether homemade or store-bought like Beech-Nut just sweet potato, just sugar snap peas, or just sweet corn. As your baby gets used to veggie flavors, progress to stronger flavors like spinach, broccoli, and green beans.
Repeat. And, then repeat again
  • 10-15 is the magic number of tries before your little one may accept a new food. Eating, just like learning a sport, takes practice, and some babies need to warm up to certain flavors. To avoid wasting food and feeling like “why do I make all of this food or open up this big jar just for it to be spit out?” pour a small amount into a bowl, and divide the remaining amount into small portions, seal, label, and put in the freezer for later use. Ice cube trays work wonders!
Make it flavorful
  • Rather than always steaming vegetables, try roasting them. Roasting brings out some of the natural flavors, especially the natural sweetness in vegetables, making them more palatable for your baby.
  • Use spices to enhance the flavor. Try sprinkling a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg in carrots and butternut squash; garlic powder in greens like kale and spinach; roast chicken and beef with onions and garlic. Check back in for more ideas on boosting flavors in the next post.
Try non-traditional protein sources
  • Chicken and beef are great options, but your baby can get protein from many other foods, such as beans, quinoa, yogurt, eggs, nut butters, and fish.
Mix and match
  • Introduce stronger flavored vegetables and proteins blended with a previously accepted food. Fruit tends to work well, but you don’t want your baby hooked on sweetness. Once the blend is accepted, gradually reduce the amount of fruit mixed in.
  • Read the ingredient list on pre-made baby foods to find a variety of blends, some with and some without Don’t only rely on the front of the label to tell you what’s in the blend. The ingredient list tells the full story.
  • Blend homemade proteins with pre-made veggie or fruit baby food from Beech-Nut Organic and 100% Naturals lines.

Some of my favorite DIY blends:

  • Steamed chicken with pears (homemade or Beech-Nut just pears)
  • Hardboiled egg pureed with greens (homemade or Beech-Nut just spinach and kale)
  • Poached salmon with sugar snap peas (homemade or Beech-Nut just sugar snap peas)

Parents – you are a role model for your baby. He will soon begin to mimic your habits, including your eating. Now is the time to start adding more greens into your diet! Stay tuned for my next blog post on expanding your baby’s palate and optimizing nutrient intake.

Consult your pediatrician for recommendations specific to your baby’s diet.