Everyone knows spinach is good for you, but how about for a baby?
As your baby gets older, his or her appetite matures as he continues to try new foods. With a palate that has yet to be ruled by chicken nuggets or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, now is the time to introduce your baby to fruits, vegetables and other foods that are healthy options.
Though your baby can usually begin to eat solid foods between four and six months of age, there are certain foods that are best to hold off on until your child is a little older and has mastered solid foods. One of these better-to-wait (but not wait too long) foods is spinach.
Can I Give My Baby Spinach? Answer: Yes, at 10-12 Months
Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that contains an abundance of nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin C, pantothenic acid, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, folate, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, iron, selenium, copper and manganese.
Spinach is also very rich in antioxidants, especially when consumed fresh, steamed or quickly boiled. There are three basic types of spinach: savory (dark green curly leaves), flat (broad, smooth leaves) and semi-savory (hybrid variety with crinkled leaves). The flat spinach is the type of spinach commonly found in most baby foods.
Spinach has many benefits. It is known as a heart-healthy food, and it also promotoes gastrointestinal health and contains anti-inflammatory properties, which is good for those suffering from arthritis, osteoporosis, migraines and asthma. Spinach also contains lutein, a carotenoid that protects against eye diseases, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
Spinach is considered an oxalate food as well as a nitrate, so it is a great addition to your baby’s diet once he or she is between ten to twelve months of age. Waiting to introduce your baby to spinach will also allow them to try a chopped form, rather than pureed.
How to Buy
When purchasing spinach, try to buy fresh spinach whenever possible. This allows you to pick spinach that is not wilting or damaged. Spinach is one of the high pesticide-containing foods, so try to buy organic when possible. If you prefer, bagged spinach is also a good choice. While still healthy, frozen spinach would be the least favorite choice. Always keep spinach in your vegetable crisper in your refrigerator and do not let it become damp.
How to Prepare
When preparing spinach for your baby, there are plenty of options. You can steam, boil or sautee. Once the leaves are soft and tender, the spinach is thoroughly cooked. For more ideas, there are plenty of baby-friendly recipes available in cookbooks and on the Internet.
Spinach is a rich vegetable that provides your child with a good amount of nutrients when served alone, but it is also great paired with other foods, such as chicken or carrots. If your child does not seem to like the taste of spinach, but you want them to have it in their diet, try adding spinach to a smoothie. They will think they are getting a tasty treat, and you will know they are getting something healthy.
Introduction to New Foods
It is always best to wait three days after feeding your child a “new” food, such as spinach. If you plan on introducing watermelon to your child by pairing it with another food, make sure you pair it with something your child has already consumed. This way, if an allergic reaction does occur, you will know that the spinach was the culprit. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include rash, vomiting, diarrhea, runny nose or lightheadedness.
If you plan on serving spinach to you baby as a finger food instead of pureed, be sure your child is ready for it. Your baby needs to be able to chew, or gum, food and be able to sit up properly. Your baby will also need to have mastered the pincer grasp, which lets him or her pick up small objects between their thumb and forefinger. Children usually do not master this skill until around nine to twelve months of age. Always make sure you are sitting close to your child while her or she eats in case they do start to choke.
Spinach is a great addition to every child’s diet. Rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, this green leafy vegetable should become a regular staple on your child’s menu. Get creative with your preparation, and your child will love trying the new taste and texture.
If you have any questions or concerns about introducing spinach to your child, it is recommended to consult his or her physician to discuss.