11 Healthy, In-Season Baby Foods for Fall (PHOTOS)

Judy Dutton | Sep 11, 2015 Baby

baby in pumpkin patchIf your baby is eating solids this fall, you're in luck: Many amazingly healthy and tasty foods are in season now (read: as delicious as ever and, depending on where you live, local!). Your baby will love them, and they benefit his brain, immune system, and more.

To make the most of baby's mealtime this autumn, try serving up some of these in-season foods. Check out what nutrition experts have to say about their health benefits for your child, and great ways to prepare them to appeal to tiny palates.

 healthy fall foods to feed baby

Images via txshutterbug/iStock and Palokha Tetiana/shutterstock

  • Kabocha

    1

    Kabocha, also known as Japanese pumpkin, is a type of squash that's the new "it" food for babies. "Inside it’s bright, bright orange, which means it has lots of vitamin A." That helps with bone and tissue growth and in fighting off infection, explains feeding specialist Melanie Potock, co-author of Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater (out in October 2015). Plus, Potock adds, "It's soft and easy for babies to explore with little hands and mouths, but isn't as watery as many other types of squash." Babies will love kabocha baked; here's a video on how to cook it and other squashes.

  • Beet

    2

    "Beets, especially golden beets, are the perfect food for growing babies," says Potock. "Those of the golden variety are naturally sweet and known for increasing circulation, which means their nutrition will reach baby's entire body." Added bonus: They're not as messy. "Golden beets are much less staining than purple beets." To prepare in a way that's tasty for young palates, roast beets until they're soft, and dice them into pieces so that baby can help himself. Or smash them with a fork and spread them onto soft, meltable crackers.

  • Spinach

    3

    Spinach -- which can be planted a second time for fall harvest-- is high in Vitamins C and A, which are key for baby's developing immune system. These leafy greens are also a good source of magnesium, "which aids in digestion and is a natural, calming muscle relaxant," says Potock. One fun way to make spinach baby-friendly is a Green Dragon Smoothie, "which can be blended to a thicker consistency for spoon feeding," Potock says. "If your baby is hesitant to try cold foods, let it come to room temperature. They'll love it!"

  • Pumpkin

    4

    Pumpkins aren't only a staple of fall decor; they're a nutritional powerhouse for baby. "They're packed with Vitamin C to help baby fight germs and also some zinc, which can boost immunity too," explains Potock. Plus, "the beauty of pumpkin is it's so versatile, whether served as a puree or sliced and roasted with a touch of cinnamon sprinkled on top. Pumpkin muffins with nutmeg, cinnamon, or other traditional fall spices are simple for babies to smoosh with their hands and bring to their mouths, especially if healthy oil like coconut oil is added to keep them extra moist." Try this recipe for gluten-free pumpkin flax muffins, which includes pieces of baked apples -- another traditional fall favorite.

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  • Apple

    5

    The old saying about apples keeping doctors away really does hold water! This fall fruit is rich not only in many immune-boosting vitamins, but also in flavonoids, which can help curb stomachaches and diarrhea in babies. "Fall is a popular time for canning, so try this easy applesauce canning recipe," says Potock. "As noted in the recipe, if you leave the skins on until the apples are soft and then blend them into the sauce, it creates a lovely pink tint to the applesauce and adds extra fiber. Use the applesauce in baked goods too, for an extra punch of nutrition throughout the year."

  • Sweet Potato

    6

    Sweet potatoes are packed with potassium, vitamin A, and tons of vitamin C -- plus some B6, which is important for a baby's nervous system, says Potock. "While sweet potatoes from a baby food jar are a popular choice, don't hesitate to offer your baby something with a bit more flavor, like this recipe where you'll roast the sweet potato and mix it with a roasted banana," says Potock. "Roasting is so much easier than boiling foods because it doesn't require watching the stove. Who has time for that?"

  • Pear

    7

    Pears are not only rich in antioxidants, which protect the body against wear and tear, but they're also high in fiber, which aids in digestion, says Potock. And they don't need to be served raw. "Pears are a fall fruit that's perfect for grilling," says Potock. "Simply slice the pears into six to eight wedges, place them directly on a hot grill, and they'll soften quickly, even the skins! Once cooled, the pear slices can be pureed or left as is for babies to grasp and mouth. Getting messy is an important step in learning about food and is shown to help kids become more adventurous eaters as they grow."

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  • Cauliflower

    8

    "This vegetable offers folate to support baby’s circulation and vitamin C for immune health," says Sara Seither, a pediatric dietitian at Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital. It can be roasted, pureed, or mashed; try putting it through a ricer to make a fun new side dish for your entire family.

  • Spaghetti Squash

    9

    "Loved by kids and adults alike, spaghetti squash is filled with folate and potassium for healthy cells and strong muscles," says Dana White, author of First Bites: Superfoods for Babies and Toddlers. Just roast it then scrape out the strands and serve, topped with a little butter or salt. 

  • Kale

    10

    "Kale is a great source of vitamin K, and it's high in the antioxidant beta-carotene," says nutritionist Alison Mitzner, MD. "Making kale chips for toddlers is a good way for them to get it. Coat kale leaves with olive oil and a light sprinkle of salt and then bake them. Your children will be loving these healthy chips."

  • Rutabaga

    11

    "This root vegetable is an excellent source of Vitamin C," says Seither. "Rutabaga is great for baby mashed and mixed into other favorites such as sweet potatoes and white potatoes."

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