The importance of 'veg first’ weaning

Weaning |

You’ve probably spent ages thinking about baby weaning food. After all, your little one’s first spoonful is a pretty big deal – for both of you. So, what will be on it – banana purée or peach perhaps? Both sound delicious. But believe it or not, experts say that fruits aren’t the best food to give a baby first. Vegetables are.

But why? The answer is simple. Babies are born with a preference for sweet things. Therefore, it’s easier for them to accept other taste sensations like bitter, salty, sour and savoury, if they start trying them early on.

Studies have also shown that the foods we’re given as babies affect the food choices we make when we're older. So, little things like making sure your baby has a variety of veg (& fruit) in their daily diet can make a big difference to their preferences later on – and help them love healthy food for life.

Which veg first?

Peas, carrots, broccoli, spinach. It’s up to you which veg you give to your baby first. You might want to start with a milder taste, like carrot and gradually work up to stronger flavours, like broccoli or spinach, over a number of weeks.

Sticking to one type of vegetable purée a day for a week or two will give them time to get used to that taste, before you move on to the next. There might be a certain vegetable they’re not keen on, but don’t rule it out straight away. It can take ten or more attempts or more before they accept a new flavour.

Baby led weaning: starter foods for thought

If you like the idea of baby led weaning, cucumber sticks are great for curious little fingers to pick up and explore. Another popular choice for baby led weaning is avocado, cut into bite size chunks. But be warned, although delicious, this one can be messy when mushy! Steamed or lightly boiled carrot sticks are also good for gnawing on. As are cooked or even frozen peas!

5-a-day for babies

Once your little eater has got a taste for vegetables, you can introduce fruit too. Fruit & veg are an essential part of their balanced diet. They provide vitamins and minerals to help keep them healthy plus dietary fibre to help fill their nappies! But how much do they need? Just like adults, babies need 5-a-day too – only their portion sizes are much smaller. As yet, there aren't any formal recommendations for baby or toddler portion sizes, but our nutritionist suggests the following as a guide:

  • At stage 1 (around 6 months) one portion = 30g
  • At stage 2 (from 7 months) one portion = 35g
  • At stage 3 (from 10 months) one portion = 40g

Variety is key. Each type of fruit or vegetable contains different nutrients. So, eating three apples isn’t as beneficial as eating an apple, some broccoli and a few sticks of carrot.

Keep it simple

Remember, your baby is only familiar with the taste of milk. So, everything else will come as quite a surprise! (Especially their first taste of lemon... you’ll definitely want a pic of that funny face!)

Right now, ‘all they’re really doing is learning about new tastes and how to move ‘solid’ food around their mouth, from front to back – and push it out again if they’re not ready for it! So, be patient, keep smiling and follow your baby’s lead. This is an incredibly exciting milestone in their development. And one to be savoured.

Please remember that solids can be a choking hazard for your baby, so never leave them alone in their high chair with food (however tempting it might be to go to the loo on your own!)