Vegetables and fruit

Essential information to rememberOnce your baby is eating iron-rich foods every day, you can add fruits and vegetables to her diet.

Photo: Sophie Roy

Vegetables and fruit are vital for good health. Not only do they add a wide variety of flavours to your baby’s diet, they also provide minerals and vitamins like vitamin C. They are rich in fibre, too, which helps your baby have regular bowel movements.

After a certain time, you can make fruits and vegetables part of every meal. For example you can serve vegetables at lunch and supper, and give your baby fruit at breakfast and for dessert. Fruits and vegetables also make good snacks.

Vegetables

Give your baby a variety of vegetables. More colourful vegetables are generally more nutritious. For this reason, it’s good to regularly serve orange vegetables (e.g., carrots, squash, yams) or dark green vegetables (e.g., broccoli, green peas, green beans, peppers).

How to prepare vegetables

You can begin by introducing cooked vegetables served in purée or mashed with a fork.

Your baby will gradually get used to eating cooked vegetables cut into little pieces.

Essential information to rememberGive your child a variety of vegetables.

Photo: Pascale Turcotte

Nitrates in vegetables

In the past, parents were recommended to wait before introducing nitrate-rich vegetables like carrots, beets, turnips, and spinach to their babies’ diet. It was also recommended to not use cooking water from these vegetables, especially carrots, to prepare purées.

It’s true that nitrates can cause health problems in very young babies. But if you introduce these vegetables toward the age of 6 months—not before—and give your baby a variety of vegetables, there is no cause for concern.

Fruit

Give your child a variety of fruits. You can use fresh or frozen fruit. Commercial canned fruit and compotes are also convenient. Choose brands without added sugar.

How to prepare fruit

Essential information to rememberGive your child a variety of fruits.

Photo: Pascale Turcotte

You can start with soft fruit in purées or mashed with a fork (e.g., banana, pear). You can also cook fruit to make compote (e.g., apple, peach). Don’t add sugar when preparing fruit. If the fruit is very ripe, you can cut it into pieces that your baby can eat with her fingers.

Berries like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries can also be mashed with a fork or cut into small pieces.

Later, you can serve your baby firmer fruits like melon, plums, or cherries cut into small pieces. You can also give your child grapes cut into quarters, small pieces of orange, grapefruit, or clementine, and grated or lightly cooked apples.

What about fruit juice?

Most children like juice. But it’s important to remember that fruit is more nutritious than juice because it contains fibre. In fact, fruit juice is not essential. To quench your child’s thirst between feedings, water is the best choice.

Things to know...

Essential information to rememberFruit juice is not essential. To quench your child’s thirst between feedings, water is the best choice.

Fruit juice has a number of disadvantages:

  • It increases the risk of early childhood tooth decay, since it naturally contains sugar.
  • There is a risk of it replacing milk and foods essential to your child’s health and development if given in too great a quantity.
  • It can spoil your child’s appetite if served within an hour of mealtime.
  • It can cause diarrhea if it is served in too great a quantity.

If you give your child fruit juice...

Information to which you should pay special attention Don’t give your child unpasteurized juice.

Here are a few helpful tips:

  • Wait until your child is at least 1 year old and limit the quantity of juice to a maximum of 125 to 175 ml (4 to 6 oz) per day.
  • Never serve juice in a baby bottle.
  • Don’t let your child drink juice for prolonged periods. This will help protect her teeth.
  • Serve juice no more than once or twice a day.

Choose pasteurized, 100% pure fruit juice with no added sugar. There’s no need to buy special juice for babies, since it’s the same as regular juice only more expensive. Avoid fruit drinks, cocktails and punches, as well as fruit-flavoured powders—they have little nutritional value and are made with sugar.

Avoid unpasteurized juice. Freshly squeezed juice bought directly from the producer is not pasteurized. Certain chilled juices sold in the grocery store are not pasteurized either. They may contain harmful bacteria. Young children are very sensitive to these bacteria.

Does your child like juice too much? See Beware of sugar.