The immune-boosting benefits of vegetable-led weaning

Long nights of disrupted sleep, worrying about your little one’s temperature and what you should do to help… We know what it’s like having an ill baby on your hands.

While it is more likely to happen than not – especially when you have older siblings who might pick up something at school – there are a few things you can do to try and prevent this from happening.

Regular hand washing and getting enough sleep are both really important, but another powerful prevention is making sure you’re eating enough nutrient-packed foods. There are lots of everyday foods which are bursting with immune-boosting properties which can protect your little one from getting a cold, while also supporting their growth and development.

Benefits of vegetable-led weaning

Feeding your little one a variety of nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein-rich foods is one of the first lines of defence for the immune system. By doing this, they’ll be exposed to important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants required to keep your immune system in tip-top shape (even if they don’t eat everything on their plate).

Not only is a healthy, varied diet a great way to fight off the flu, it’s also super beneficial to introduce your baby to vegetables from an early age so they accept these flavours as they get older and try new foods. Two birds, one stone!

While fruit intake is important, babies are generally inclined to like these tastes straight away because they’ve been used to the sweetness of breastmilk. They may need to try vegetables up to 10 times before starting to like the taste, so getting your little one used to the different flavours of vegetables in their first few months of trying new foods is crucial to minimise fussiness later on.

Tips for getting in nutrient-dense foods

Vitamin C is often the vitamin we hear about the most because it has been shown to help reduce the severity and duration of a common cold. Vegetables and fruit packed with vitamin C include broccoli, green beans, carrots, strawberries, blueberries and oranges. Remember that lightly steaming vegetables helps to retain as much vitamin C as possible.

It is also key, however, to ensure we have a nutritious, balanced diet overall when trying to make sure your baby is healthy and less likely to get ill.

A great tip is to aim for as colourful plates as possible at each mealtime, as a lot of the best nutrients are found in colourful fruits and vegetables. Aim for five or more different colours a day to ensure you’re feeding them a variety of nutrients.

Other vitamins and minerals which have immune-boosting properties include vitamins A and B, zinc, and selenium. Great, nutrient-dense foods to feed your little one are:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Almonds
  • Oily fish
  • Chicken soup
  • Mushrooms
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Oats & Barley
  • Yoghurt & other probiotics

We know it can be a worry for parents of babies, but these nutrition tips and tricks shouldn’t be underestimated! So focus on feeding your little one nutritious, colourful and well-balanced meals, and they’ll build up their immunities in no time!