How to Introduce Leafy Greens to Babies
After your baby has mastered purees or soft finger foods, you may be eager to expand their menu to include nutrient rich leafy greens. Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, swiss chard, collards, and beet greens, as you may know, are an excellent source of iron, calcium, vitamins A and C. However, how can a 7 month old handle such a tough leafy vegetable without a full mouth of teeth? Unfortunately, your baby will not be able to manage raw leafy greens until their molars come in. Until then, you will have to do some of the “chewing” by chopping, blending, and/or cooking for them.
There are basically two ways to include leafy greens in your baby’s diet.
1. Leafy greens as an ingredient
Add them to your baby’s next omelet. Wash, remove the stalks and stems, and chop some leafy greens. Crack an egg in a bowl and beat with a fork. Heat a tsp of oil or butter in a pan. Add washed and chopped greens to pan and sauté for about 1 minute. Pour beaten eggs over greens. Flip omelet when it becomes slightly firm, or about 1 minute. Once fully cooked, let cool. Cut into strips for baby to self-feed.
Add washed and chopped, sautéed greens to meatballs, quinoa balls, veggie burgers, casseroles, etc.
Blend leafy greens in a smoothie
2. Leafy greens on their own
Make Kale Chips! Preheat oven to 350. Wash and tear kale into 1-2 inch pieces. Place kale in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Mix until pieces are fully coated. Pour kale onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Spread out pieces so that they do not overlap. Bake for 5 minutes. Flip pieces. Bake another 5 minutes. Test kale chips. They should crumble in your mouth like a potato chip. Let cool and serve to baby. While most kale chip recipes call for salt, this is not appropriate for babies. If you are sharing the kale chips with your baby and would like to add salt, set aside some chips for your baby and then add the salt to your “adult” bowl of kale chips.
WARNING! These can be incredibly messy as your baby learns how to hold them without crumbling. My son absolutely loved the new crunchy texture and would not stop eating them! It was quite funny to watch.