So, we need five portions of fruit and vegetables a day – but is it the same for your baby?
When it comes to getting enough fruit and vegetables, we have the five-a-day rule drilled into us, but how much is advised for babies? Quarter of a banana? Two mouthfuls of avocado?
Fortunately, working it out and balancing your baby’s fruit and veg tally doesn’t have to be stressful.
If you let your baby’s appetite guide you, you will soon gauge how much he needs. When weaning begins, try one or two portions of fruit and veg roughly the size of your baby’s palm – this should gradually increase as he begins to take more solid foods.
If you are referring to finger foods then start with softer vegetables such as cucumbers
‘Babies are born with a preference for sweet foods, which may mean they prefer eating fruits,’ says Charlotte Stirling Reed, child nutritionist and founder of SR Nutrition.
‘Sometimes this can mean they refuse veggies at mealtimes and so I often recommend offering fruits just once a day and focusing more on veg like cucumbers (you may need to remove the peel) or soft cooked carrots when you start weaning.’
Any vegetables are fine. If you are referring to finger foods then start with softer vegetables such as cucumbers (may need to remove peel) or soft cooked carrots and then gradually move on to harder vegetables as baby gets used to biting and chewing.
Getting the goodness
Just like we need certain minerals, vitamins and nutrients to keep us in tip-top condition, so do babies.
‘Iron, vitamin C and vitamin A are crucial,’ says Charlotte. ‘Good iron sources are green leafy vegetables, beans, lentils and pulses.’
‘Most fruit and vegetables contain high levels of vitamin C but red peppers, broccoli and kale are all particularly good. These are all fine to offer from six months but in different forms - some as purees or some may be offered as soft finger foods.’
‘Vitamin A is found in spinach and orange fruits and vegetables such as dried apricots, carrots and sweet potato.’
Mix it up
A wide variety of fruit and vegetables is critical for your weaning baby – the more he is exposed to at this point, the more he’s likely to enjoy later on.
‘Fruit and vegetables contain different vitamins and minerals, which have varying roles to play in your baby’s health,’ Charlotte explains.
‘Offer your baby a “rainbow” of fruit and vegetables, so he gets all the benefits.’
Ones to avoid
Often babies can’t tolerate certain foods, either because of their delicate tummies or because they induce allergic reactions.
‘It is thought that offering salty or too many sweet foods may lead to a preference for these foods and therefore may lead to your baby disliking more bland tastes and therefore refusing other foods,’ says Charlotte. Offering variety is therefore important.
‘Citrus fruits, kiwis and celery can disagree with your baby’s tummy or bring him out in a rash,’ Charlotte says.
‘This doesn’t mean you need to avoid these foods but it is a good idea to offer any high allergen risk foods to your baby one at a time, so you can keep track of any reaction.’