With adventures out in the world back on the cards we all want our families to be fighting fit and our immune systems to be in tip top condition – from our little ones to our own.
While there isn’t a magic wonder defence that we can use to stop our babies getting ill, there are lots of ways we can help build up their defences against illnesses – one of which is sneaking veggies into their weaning adventure.
Long nights of disrupted sleep, constantly checking your baby’s temperature, and fretting about what you can do to help… When our babies are ill, it’s no fun for anyone!
So, it’s always good to have things we can do as parents to make our little one’s getting ill less likely in the first place.
Getting enough sleep and making sure all household hands are being washed regularly are both really important steps towards prevention – even for us adults (much easier said than done when you’ve got a little rascal to keep an eye on) – but another step is making sure we’re all eating nutrient-packed foods. Foods which also support our babies’ growth and development as well. Win-win!
Vegetable led weaning: why?
Our little ones’ immune systems are their first line of defence against illness and, just like with our adult immune systems, theirs get stronger with the help of a balanced variety of nutritious foods. We’re talking fruits, veggies, whole grains, and protein-rich foods.
Exposing them to important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants like this will keep their immune-system fighting-fit, just the way we like it.
To top it all off, (we know: it gets better?!) introducing veggies to your baby at an early age can help them accept new flavours and textures as they get older and try new foods. Multiple birds with one stone!
Vegetable led weaning: how?
We know what you’re thinking: how am I going to get my little terror who managed to get peas everywhere in the kitchen except for their mouth last night to stick to a balanced diet? Well, we found that if we just explain to our little ones how good for them all these foods are, they settle right down and... NOT.
Here are some things that might reassure you that it's okay if it looks like there’s more throwing than eating involved at the moment with mealtimes.
Even if your little one doesn’t eat everything on their plate, they’re still getting exposed to all the good stuff in these foods so don’t stress if some of it ends up... well, everywhere. Throughout weaning your baby will get all their essential nutrients from milk – anything else they get inside them is a bonus.
On top of that, our babies may need up to 10 tries of a vegetable or food before they start to like the taste – so persistence and patience is key when introducing something new. If they aren’t so keen on a certain food at first, just try at another time and maybe switch up the texture of the food as well. Mashed avocado for breakfast could become chunks of avocado for dinner!
Also, while fruit intake is important, fruit’s natural sweetness mean that our babies are generally going to be more into them than veggies at the start, just because they’re used to the sweetness of breastmilk. Don’t let this bring you down though – just give that veg another go another time.
Vegetable led weaning: what?
We all know about Vitamin C being the vitamin that helps reduce how long and how bad the common cold is.
It can be found in various fruit and veg such as: broccoli, green beans, carrots, strawberries, blueberries and oranges.
Top tip: lightly steaming vegetables helps to retain as much vitamin C as possible.
That being said, don’t only focus on Vitamin C – there are plenty of other important vitamins and minerals that can help with boosting the immune system. It’s key to ensure that our little ones (and us as well) have a nutritious, balanced diet overall.
Other vitamins and minerals which have immune-boosting properties include vitamins A and B, zinc, and selenium. Great, nutrient-dense foods for little ones are:
- Sweet potatoes
- Oily fish
- Chicken soup
- Sweet potatoes
- Oats & Barley
- Yoghurt & other probiotics
A great tip we use is to try and have super colourful plates in front of your little one. Colourful fruit and veg hold a mixture of the best nutrients going. You want to aim for around five or more different colours a day to ensure you’re feeding them a variety of nutrients.
Have a look at our recipe hub for inspirational weaning recipes.
About the author: Piccolo is a wholesome and sustainable food company for babies and kids. You can find out more about them at my little piccolo.
*All of the opinions and advice shared in this blog are those of Piccolo. They are based on their own experts and experiences and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organisation, employer or company.