Easing your baby into solid foods is a major transition, and there's so much to learn about which foods babies can eat and when they can eat them. For instance, you know veggies are an important first food, but which ones? Can babies eat canned vegetables? Fresh isn't always an option, but not every can of beans in the store belongs on your kid's high chair tray.
That said, for the most part, experts agree that canned veggies make fantastic baby food. "Canned vegetables are fine. In fact they are nice and soft which is safe for baby to prevent choking," family nutritionist Jennifer House MSc, RD, tells Romper. Encouraging your baby to sample veggies now also helps set up healthy eating habits for the future. "Vegetables are a great choice to feed to babies. Not only are they nutritious, but it’s also important to help children learn to like vegetables from an early age," Erin Quann, Ph.D., RD, Director of Nutrition Research at Gerber, tells Romper. In fact, eating a variety of vegetables as a baby might even help prevent kids from becoming picky eaters later on. Consider it an investment in your kid's culinary future.
However, not all commercially available canned veggies are great for babies. "The main concern with canned vegetables is that they tend to have a high sodium content," Samantha Radford Ph.D., founder of Evidence-based Mommy, tells Romper. "Babies should not have much salt at all, so they need to avoid regular canned foods." So what should you keep in mind when searching for baby-friendly veggies? "Try to find canned vegetables that are canned in water and have no salt or flavoring," Amanda A. Kostro Miller, RD, LDN, tells Romper.
Packaging is also worth consideration. "Make sure that all canned foods you give babies have a BPA free liner," says Dr. Radford. "Be particularly careful about BPA with acidic foods such as canned tomatoes." Even the FDA has expressed concern about BPA's effect on babies and children, so it's generally a good idea to avoid the stuff.
In addition, keep the texture of canned veggies in mind. "Pureed, soft, cooked and mashed foods are the easiest for babies to consume," says Miller. They can work up to eating soft, cooked veggies cut into half-inch pieces as a toddler, as Miller further explains. Just keep your kid's chewing ability in mind, especially if they aren't working with a full set of teeth yet.
While it's great to kick-start your child's love of veggies with canned vegetables, there are just a few tips to keep in mind. But as long as you're working with low-sodium, BPA-free, and soft options, canned vegetables are a worthy addition to your kid's diet. Hopefully, your child will grow to love carrots, peas, beans, and all the other wonderful veggies later on.
Amanda A. Kostro Miller, RD, LDN, on the advisory board for Fitter Living
Samantha Radford, Ph.D., founder of Evidence-based Mommy