Welcome to our Spinach Baby Food Recipes section, where we look at how and when to introduce spinach to your baby and explain why spinach may not be the best choice for your little one as an early weaning food.
Spinach contains a broad range of nutrients including
It also has powerful anti-oxidant properties and can help protect the body against various types of cancer. What’s more, consuming spinach is believed to help lower blood pressure and guard against age-related brain decline in later life.
The calcium and iron in spinach are NOT well absorbed by the human body. This means that spinach may not be NOT the best source of these nutrients for your baby, even though the levels of iron and calcium it contains are quite high.
The problem is caused by the oxalates in spinach, which bind to the iron and calcium, inhibiting their absorption by the body.
You should – of course – speak to your doctor before introducing spinach to your baby.
However, most sources will suggest waiting until your little one is at least 10 months of age to introduce spinach.
In part, this is due to the fact that spinach may be high in nitrates, which may intensify during storage and subsequent reheating.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states in its article Infant Methemoglobinemia: The Role of Dietary Nitrate in Food and Water that homemade spinach baby food should not be given before 3 months of age, which they acknowledge is earlier than solids need to be introduced anyway!
But – if you’re still concerned about nitrate levels in spinach – you can further minimize the risk by discarding any water in which you cook the leaves and preparing spinach as needed, rather than cooking it and storing it for future use.
The other reason that spinach is not commonly recommended as an early weaning food is that your baby’s body may have difficulty in absorbing the iron and calcium it contains (as mentioned in the Nutrition Facts above).
Although you can boost your baby’s absorption of the iron by serving spinach alongside foods containing vitamin C, it is far better to look for alternative food sources to ensure that your baby receives sufficient amounts of these vital nutrients.
There is also some research to suggest that the oxalates in spinach may even inhibit your baby’s absorption of calcium from his milk, if the two are served together.
Spinach, therefore, should not be given to your baby on an overly frequent basis once it’s introduced – and, when offering spinach to your baby for the first time – remember to follow the four day rule and watch carefully for any sign of allergic reaction or digestive discomfort.
Spinach, which is related to chard and beets, is separated into three main types –
If you have the option, then pick semi-Savoy over Savoy, because the leaves are easier to clean!
Look for spinach bunches that have tender, fresh, vivid green leaves – if the leaves are yellowing, then they are old and subsequently less nutritious.
We recommend that you choose organic spinach for use in your baby food recipes.
Conventionally grown spinach now ranks #2 on the Environmental Working Group’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ – the fruits and veggies most likely to be high in pesticide residues.
Keep your spinach in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper, where it should last for around 4 days (although it’s advisable to use it as quickly as possible to make the most of its nutrients).
Don’t wash it before you store it, as this will make it deteriorate more quickly.
Spinach needs to be washed VERY carefully – even if you buy it pre-packed in a bag that states its ‘washed and ready to eat’.
The best way to wash fresh spinach...
Is to completely submerge the leaves in a bowl of water and use your hands to ‘swish’ them around, dislodging any dirt. Then you should drain the leaves and refill the bowl with fresh water, repeating the process until the water in the bowl looks clear.