Weaning is such an important time for setting up healthy eating habits. One of the reasons for this is because we can actually ‘train’ our baby to develop a taste for certain foods during weaning.
Babies are born with a preference for sweet foods and their food for the first six months of life is sweet, milk. So ‘weaning’ offers a window of opportunity to expose babies to new tastes, including those more bitter tasting foods, like vegetables. The benefits of eating lots of vegetables are well known but they can be a challenging for children to like.
‘Vegetable First’ Weaning
Therefore, I always encourage parents who attend our Baby Weaning Classes to go with a ‘vegetable first’ approach to weaning. If you can get your baby to like vegetables and especially those harder to like varieties then things can only get easier for your baby taste-wise!
University College London conducted a study in 2015 looking at the effects of using a ‘vegetable first’ approach. Here, they randomly assigned 60 mothers to either a ‘vegetable first’ or control group. They advised the ‘vegetable first’ group to introduce five different types of vegetables as single flavours for the first 15 days of weaning; the control group were not given this advice. After one month, researchers assessed how much of an unfamiliar vegetable and fruit the babies ate. Babies in the ‘vegetable first’ group ate more of an unfamiliar vegetable than infants in the control group, and they also seemed to like them more. There was no difference in how they appeared to like the fruit.
This suggests that introducing vegetables instead of fruit as first foods is a great way of improving acceptance of vegetables. On the other hand, starting with fruit first or vegetables mixed with fruit might be a lost opportunity because babies tend to accept fruit either way.
Offer a different vegetable every day initially and then more than one type per day, keep rotating through the various types and serve in a variety of ways. It doesn’t matter if you are doing a mixture of spoon-feeding or 100% baby led weaning.
Your baby might not like broccoli the first time but if you keep offering broccoli regularly they will most likely learn to like it.
Don’t offer just the sweet root vegetable like carrots, sweet potato and butternut squash. Make sure you offer the dark green vegetables and non-sweet vegetables as well.
You can download our simple Vegetable First Timetable to help you keep track of the first 15 days of weaning for your baby! Remember to offer a variety of foods after the initial 15 days. Include meat, fish, pulses, vegetables, fruit, cereals, dairy and eggs. Don’t forget to keep offering the first veggies too!