Are Green Bell Peppers Safe for Toddlers?
Green bell peppers are packed with key vitamins and minerals, which makes them a nutritious choice for your toddler's healthy eating plan. Prepared and served the right way, green bell peppers are safe for your toddler to consume -- and if he likes them, he'll be getting many essential nutrients that he needs for his growth and development.
Green bell peppers are a good source of fiber, which supports the health of your toddler's bowels and intestines. Plenty of fiber also helps keep your child's bowel movements regular so she's less likely to get constipated. Your child gets a good dose of vitamin C from green bell peppers as well. Vitamin C helps keep her immune system strong so she's less likely to catch a cold or come down with the flu. This veggie delivers vitamin A for your toddler's eyes and vitamin E to help protect her cells from damage as well.
If your toddler doesn't have a full set of teeth yet, most vegetables are easier for him to eat if you cook them first, KidsHealth.org recommends. These softer vegetables allow your toddler to gum them before he swallows, which cuts down on his risk of choking. If you serve raw bell peppers, they are safe when you cut them into pieces that are 1 inch or smaller. Toddlers are susceptible to choking, and the risk increases when you serve large pieces of food. Thin strips or minced pieces of green bell pepper reduce that risk, so you can include this vegetable in your toddler's diet.
Infants and children are particularly susceptible to the dangers associated with pesticide use. Green bell peppers may be sprayed with pesticides during the growing process, which means that it's possible for your toddler to ingest them. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, certain pesticides have been banned because of the risk they pose to children, but other chemicals are still used. High exposure to these pesticides can interfere with proper hormone secretion and depress the immune system. Choose organic green bell peppers when you can and always wash vegetables with warm water and soap before cutting them and serving them to your child.
A simple way to add green bell peppers to your toddler's diet is to mince them and then saute them in olive oil. You might also steam and then puree them to make them easy for your toddler to swallow. If your child isn't fond of the taste of green bell peppers, grate them into soup or pasta recipes. Puree steamed bell peppers and stir the puree into macaroni-and-cheese or use it as a healthy spread for a turkey sandwich. Ellen Bowers, author of "The Everything Guide to Raising a Toddler" suggests creating a "face" to encourage your toddler to eat vegetables. Lay a tortilla flat on a plate and add small pieces of tomato, shredded carrots and grated cheese to make eyes, ears, a mouth and a nose on the tortilla. Use thinly sliced pieces of green bell pepper to add hair to the face. Perhaps the cuteness aspect with get your little one interested.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Nutrient Data for Peppers, Sweet, Green, Raw
- USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov: Tips to Help You Eat Vegetables
- The Everything Guide to Raising a Toddler; Ellen Bowers
- KidsHealth: Choking