You can start introducing solids at around six months, but you do not need to introduce new foods in any specific order. So, although people all over the world might swear by their chosen variety of first foods for their baby, there actually is no research to say one way is better than another. The most important thing is a variety of taste and texture. Weaning is a key time for the development of taste preferences and ongoing relationships with food, during this time they tend to be more accepting of new foods.
It is generally advised not to offer possibly allergen foods first, but other than that, whether it is a grain, legume, fruit or vegetable, or even meat- it really doesn’t matter.
What does seem to matter, however, is that offering certain foods like vegetables, that tend to have less sweet flavours (apart from the root vegetables), may take a few more times to be accepted because of their un-sweetness. Babies have an inherent liking for sweeter foods so will naturally accept sweeter fruit and vegetables over the more bitter leaves such as spinach or broccoli (of course some babies will love these from the off, babies are all different).
Parents shouldn’t give up, as sometimes babies need to taste flavours a few times before they get used to them. It can take up to twelve times (we know! Crazy right!) for a baby to take to a new flavour, so do not be put off re-introducing a food even if it has been rejected that third or fourth time. Maybe try offering that food at a bunch of different times over a few weeks or in different textures or forms – you never know what could make the difference!
One thing though! If your baby does not accept a food at first, never cajole or distract them into eating it. They may just not be hungry, so just give it a go another time.
Focusing on vegetables as some of the first foods, particularly a wide range of different vegetables, is a very positive way to introduce foods. Vegetables come in a range of wonderful flavours, textures and colours – providing a huge range of nutrients such as fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Tips for introducing vegetables to your little one
- You may find that your baby pulls faces or odd expressions when she tries a food for the first time. It doesn’t mean she isn’t happy with it. She may just be registering her surprise at the new taste or texture. Check out our amazing guide to babies’ faces and what they mean here.
- You can mix and mash fruit and vegetables, but it’s also a good idea to give ingredients separately so baby’s know what a more bitter or savoury flavour tastes like. Try giving steamed broccoli spears for them to gum on, or whizz up some kale or spinach and peas together.
Ideas and recipe ideas to try
- Cauliflower florets are delicious roasted in a little olive oil and lemon juice for you and your baby.
- Frozen veg like peas, spinach and beans are great last-minute vegetables to try with your little one. Whizz up some defrosted spinach and mix into a little scrambled egg or make a cooked spinach and pea dip with a little yoghurt or crème fraiche and mint.
- Fried courgette strips in a little olive oil are a really tasty way to introduce courgette.
- Bake a sweet potato in the oven or microwave and just scoop out a little of the flesh.
- Cooked vegetables such as parsnip, potato, sweet potato, butternut squash, carrot, green beans, spinach, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, kale
We also have lots of other delicious ideas that may help you in our recipe collection.