When your baby opens their mouth for their first taste of food, they embark on a journey of discovery that may influence their food preferences for the rest of their life. Up until now, your little one has relied purely on breast milk and/or formula to grow and develop. And look how far they have come! Now they need some additional nutrients, and the foods you choose to offer them are essential for their future health.
Incredibly, what you offer on their spoon during these early weeks of feeding can influence the variety of foods they will choose to eat in the future. Not just next month, or even the one after, but in years to come when they’re waving goodbye to you at the school gates.
Vary the menu
So how do you help your baby grow into a child with a healthy diet? One important way is with variety. Offer different vegetables during these early weeks of complementary feeding and they’ll be more likely to accept new vegetables now, and in the future. One recent study showed that an introduction of vegetables early in the complementary-feeding period may lead to a greater acceptance of vegetables by babies, and later in life by children.
Beyond the smooth
As well as offering a wide range of vegetables, it is important for your baby to learn about texture as their feeding skills develop. Once your baby is experienced with, and able to manage, smooth purees, think about adding some texture, perhaps by mashing developmentally appropriate food with a fork rather than blending to a thick liquid.
Research shows that babies who are introduced to ‘lumpy’ textures before nine or 10 months of age are more likely to eat family foods, healthy foods, and a greater variety of fruits and vegetables as toddlers and at school age. “Introducing your baby to texture early on may help them accept more complex textures when they’re older,” says Laurence Stoll, Complementary Food Nutritionist at Nestlé Nutrition, Switzerland. All of this goes to show that it’s never too early to start positively influencing your child’s health.
Coulthard H, Harris G, Emmett P. Delayed introduction of lumpy foods to children during the complementary feeding period affects child’s food acceptance and feeding at 7 years of age. Matern Child Nutr 2009; 5(1):75-85.
Hetherington MM, Schwartz C, Madrell J et al. A step-by-step introduction to vegetables at the beginning of complementary feeding. The effects of early and repeated exposure. Appetite 2015; 84:280-90.
Joint statement of Health Canada, Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada, and Breastfeeding Committee for Canada. Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants: Recommendations from Six to 24 Months. 2014. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/healthy-…
Maier A, Chabanet C, Schaal B et al. Effects of repeated exposure on acceptance of initially disliked vegetables in 7-month old infants. Food Quality and Preference 2007; 18:1023-32.
Maier-Noth A, Schaal B, Leathwood P et al. The lasting influences of early food-related variety experience: A longitudinal study of vegetable acceptance from 5 months to 6 years in two populations. PLoS One 2016; 11(3):e0151356. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0151356.
Get full access to expert-backed nutrition support, high-value coupons on our trusted brands and much more!
Free Ready-for-Baby Savings Pack.
Around 35 weeks of pregnancy expect to receive our Baby Pack filled with high-value coupons and useful information you and your baby will love!
Special Member Savings
Receive personalized coupons and savings on trusted products in your email inbox - and home mailbox - as your baby grows.
Expert advice, articles, recipes, tips and tools for all the special, hard and at times hectic days of parenting.
Nutritional guidance for growth
Specialized nutritional guidance and science-based expertise for every stage of the parenting journey - from preconception to toddlerhood.
*When registration is during pregnancy. If your baby’s already been born, expect to see your kit within a month
Still haven't found what you are looking for?
Try our new smart question engine.