Knock Your Baby's Socks Off With Carrots
It is always delightful to introduce solid foods to your baby. The experience is one you will never forget because of how cute the process can be. Food can really bring out your child's personality, helping him or her to express likes and dislikes, and be a lovely activity for helping your child learn more about the world around him or her.
As you begin to introduce vegetables, which are usually one of the first food items you serve a baby, you want to provide them with a slightly sweet option, like carrots. The sweetness is familiar because it is what babies are used to in formula or breast milk, which means your child is more likely to give it a try instead of just spitting it right out. Plus, there are many great carrot baby food recipes you will want to try out.
Carrots are long, thin vegetables grown under the ground. Most often associated with rabbits and the color orange, these veggies are rich in beta-carotene and well known for their eye health benefits. Despite being categorized as an orange vegetable, carrots actually can come in many different colors, even purple.
They are full of antioxidants, which is good for the immune system. They are also beneficial for heart health and protect against cancer thanks to the many nutrients they contain, such as:
- Vitamin C
- Geranyl acetate
- Vitamin A
Because your baby is just being introduced to solid foods and gets his or her main nutrition from formula or breast milk, you don't have to worry about the number of servings he or she is getting of carrots. For adults and older children, though, at least one serving of carrots a day is recommended for the full health benefits.
Buying and Storing Carrots
At the store, you want to look for carrots that are firm and smooth. Try to choose straight ones with bright coloring. A rule of thumb with color for orange carrots is the deeper the color the more beta-carotene it contains. Don't choose carrots that are limp, cracked or bent severely. Ideally, you want to buy them with the bright green tops still on, but if they are removed, the stem end should not be dark because this indicates an old carrot.
Storage for carrots is pretty easy because they store well and for a long time. Always cut the tops off before storing. Put them in the fridge in a cool spot and wrap them tightly in a bag or paper towel. You want to minimize the moisture they lose. Do not keep them near other vegetables or fruits that produce ethylene gas because it will affect their taste. You can usually keep them like this for two weeks while also maintaining their nutrients.
Cooking for Baby
Most vegetables are best when uncooked because this helps ensure all the nutrients stay intact, but that is not an option for a baby with few teeth and even fewer eating skills. For safety, always cook carrots completely before feeding them to your child. This is even true for older toddlers because of the hardness and the fact they are a choking hazard when raw. The good news is the main nutrient--beta-carotene-is heat stable, so cooking won't result in much loss.
Always wash them completely before cooking using a vegetable brush to scrub them. It is also a good idea to peel them, especially when they will be mashed or if they are not organic. They can be steamed or boiled to cook them to the right texture for a baby. This can be done on the stove or in the microwave.
Carrots are easy on a baby's digestive system and due to the sweetness, often a preferred food item, so they usually end up being one of the very first foods you can give your little one. However, carrots do contain nitrates, which are removed in commercially prepared foods, but not in homemade foods. Nitrates can lead to anemia, so you should not feed homemade carrot baby food to your child until he or she is at least seven months old to avoid any risks.
Carrot Baby Food Recipes
When you first start making baby food, the easiest recipe is a puree. Carrot puree is simply made by washing and cutting carrots, boiling them and then pureeing them in a blender or food processor. They can also be steamed instead of boiled. Water, formula or breast milk can be added during pureeing to help reduce the thickness to suit your baby's needs.
As you progress with your carrot baby food recipes, you will want to begin mixing flavors. Your baby will enjoy a little variety. Try a mashed turnip and carrot dish. This takes a large turnip and six large carrots. You can also add seasoning if you wish. Peel, wash and chop your turnips and carrots. Boil the turnip until it is tender, and steam the carrots until tender as well.
Add the tender carrots and turnip bits to a bowl and mash as you would potatoes. You can add liquid if needed. If you desire, you may also add in spices. This mash can be made with other foods, too. Carrots mix well with potatoes, apples, beans, peas and squash.
As your baby gets used to solid foods, you may introduce macaroni and cheese. Pasta is a soft and easy-to-chew ingredient and kids love cheese. You can easily bump up the nutritional value of mac and cheese by adding in some carrot puree. Your kids may not even notice it in there, but you get to ensure they get a little boost of nutrients in their favorite meal.
Giving your baby new foods is one of the most exciting parts of being a parent. It is a time to bond and learn more about your baby. Feeding your child carrots is not only a treat he or she will likely love but it also is providing essential nutrients to help you baby grow strong and healthy. For more baby information, please follow us on Twitter: @kamo_family, Facebook or Instagram: kamofamily.