Most new parents are eager to start feeding their baby solid foods – including eggplant. But can babies eat eggplant, and what are its main nutritional benefits?
Since eggplant is a relatively uncommon ingredient, some parents may be unsure how to incorporate it into their child’s diet. In this guide, we will look at ways to incorporate eggplant into your child’s diet—with recipes for baby puree, cooked eggplant finger food, eggplant slices and more.
With this information, you can feel confident cooking up a delicious and nutritious meal your toddler will love. Read on to explore the wonders of eggplant – also known as aubergine or brinjal.
Eggplant (or solanum melongena) is a vegetable crop – part of the nightshade family of plants. Eggplants can vary in colour, size, shape and nutritional composition.
Generally, eggplants have a smooth and shiny skin; with most consumers preferring the purple variety of eggplant.
Eggplant as a Nutrient Source
For your baby, eggplant is a great source of minerals and vitamins—with similar nutritional value as a tomato. Eggplant is low in fats, containing mostly water.
Below, we’ll break down the main nutritional benefits of giving your child eggplant. Whether you’re learning about baby led weaning or updating your puree recipe collection, there are many ways you can incorporate eggplant in your little one’s diet.
Fibre is key for your child’s digestive health, encouraging healthy bowel movements and helping them feel fuller for longer. Eggplant is a great choice for first foods, as it provides your child with the benefit of fibre. Eggplant has 3g of fibre per 100g when raw, and 2.5g per 100g when cooked, boiled and drained.
Antioxidants are essential to the body’s fight against free radicals. When free radicals steal electrons from other molecules, this can damage DNA and cell membranes. To act as a natural off-switch, antioxidants offer some of their own electrons: neutralising the damaging effects of free radicals.
Eggplant is one of the top ten vegetables for antioxidants. In eggplant, there are two types of antioxidants in high amounts: phenolic compounds and anthocyanins.
The phenolic compound, chlorogenic acid, is the main antioxidant in eggplant. It is found in the inner pulp, and is one of 14 phenolic compounds found in the vegetable. The purple peel has high amounts of nasunin: another potent antioxidant.
Eggplant is a good source of other nutrients. Its vitamins include B1, B2, B6, C, K, thiamine, niacin and pantothenic acid; minerals include magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, phosphorus and calcium.
Purple eggplant also contains large amounts of essential amino acids which include leucine, valine, lysine and isoleucine.
How to Prepare Eggplant for Your Baby
There are a few different ways you can prepare eggplant for your child. Read on to discover our best baby food recipes involving eggplant. It may take a little experimentation to find your child’s favourite type of eggplant dish; but once they discover this bitter, versatile veggie, they will enjoy them for life.
6 Months – 1 Year
Small amounts of eggplant can be used in fruit and vegetable purees. For babies exploring solids for the first time, eggplant can be a tactile finger food that they enjoy devouring!
To prepare eggplant for babies aged 6-12 months, chop the eggplant into small pieces and cook until browned. Before you serve it to your baby, make sure that the eggplant has time to cool – with the option to serve with lightly toasted bread and olive oil. If you are unsure about whether to offer your baby eggplant, speak to your child’s healthcare provider.
13 Months – 2 Years
As your child grows, eggplant can become a tasty staple to fuel their energetic needs. One way to prepare eggplant is in the form of veggie patties! They’re easy to make, and eggplant is just one of the many vegetables hidden in the patty.
To make eggplant veggie patties, follow the recipe below.
1 eggplant – peeled and cubed
¾ cup rice – cooked
1 small carrot – grated
1 small zucchini – grated
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp water
3 tbsp plain flour
1 egg yolk
½ cup cheese – grated
½ cup zucchini – grated
- Add eggplant, carrot, zucchini and water to a microwave safe bowl. Cook on high for 3 minutes.
- Drain any water from the microwave safe bowl and let it cool.
- Pour all ingredients into another bowl and stir until combined.
- Heat olive oil in a pan, before adding spoonfuls of mixture
- Flatten to form a pattie and cook each side for 3 minutes.
From the age of two, your child is ready to progress to a much broader range of dishes! While they’re still sure to enjoy the veggie patties recipe above, they’ll likely want to experience more and more diversity in their meals.
Enjoy this time, as you watch your infant’s taste buds develop. Their current diet will help to shape their eating habits in the future: it’s important to have a simple and fast repertoire of recipes with vegetables like eggplant.
Me and My Child’s veggie patties recipe is one popular go-to for Mums around Australia.
Benefits of Serving Eggplant Baby Food
By introducing eggplant early on, you can help your kids delight in the taste of this unique food. The bitter taste of eggplant can help your child develop a broad palate: helping to prevent them from becoming a fussy eater.
Eggplant has many nutrients that play an antimicrobial and antiviral role for your child’s body: helping in the fight against illness.