BROCCOLI| 6 mos+ |🥇💪🌈
Updated: Aug 31
Broccoli is one of those vegetables that people love to hate. But I think that most babies actually really like broccoli.
This edible tree is believed to have been around for more than 2000 years!
Broccoli is a great source of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is the fiber that helps loosen up the bowels as it changes its form as it passes through the digestive tract.
DISCLAIMER: Each child has their own development timeline and specific needs. The content below is general information and for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional one-on-one advice. You are responsible for supervising your child’s health and for evaluating the appropriateness of the information below for your child. Please consult your healthcare provider regarding support or advice for your child's well being and health. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
When can I give broccoli to my baby?
Babies can eat broccoli as soon as they are ready to start eating solid foods, which is usually when they are around 6 months of age and have met all the readiness signs for solids, unless otherwise advised by your baby's healthcare provider. However, broccoli may be a bit hard for a young infant to digest and cause some gas, so if your baby has had any digestive issues, it would be best not to offer broccoli as a first food.
You can give your baby a safe start to solid foods! This on-demand workshop will provide you with the knowledge and confidence you need to wean well.
Is broccoli a healthy food for babies?
Broccoli resembles cauliflower, but it belongs to the cabbage family. Broccoli is believed to have been around for more than 2000 years.
Broccoli is a great source of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is the fiber that helps loosen up the bowels as it changes its form as it passes through the digestive tract. This edible flower also provides a number of vitamins and minerals that babies need and that are crucial for optimal growth and development, including vitamins C, A, K, B6 and folate, iron and zinc.
Is broccoli a safe food for babies?
Between 1998 and 2017, at least 25 broccoli-associated outbreaks were reported to CDC’s National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS), causing 371 illnesses, 9 hospitalizations, and no deaths.
Broccoli and other fresh vegetables are often minimally processed, without a ‘kill step,’ and may be peeled, sliced, chopped, shredded, cored, or trimmed with or without washing, or other treatments, prior to being packaged for use by consumers.
Fresh-cut fruits and vegetables are at increased risk for microbial growth and contamination. Broccoli should be washed with fresh, cold water prior to consumption or cooking. Due to the risk of choking, you should not offer raw broccoli to your baby.
Is broccoli a choking hazard for babies?
Broccoli is not listed on CDC's list of most common choking hazards for babies. But to be safely offered to your baby, it needs to be cooked until soft and offered in a shape and size that is appropriate to baby's stage of development and feeding skills. Refer to the section “How to prep and offer” to learn more about how to prepare and offer broccoli to your baby.
This workshop covers everything you need to know for dealing with gagging, reducing the risk of choking during mealtimes, and offering safe food sizes and shapes to your child.
Note: Keep in mind that any food can present a risk for choking if not prepared correctly. You are responsible for following age and food modification guidelines provided in order to reduce your baby’s risk for choking.
Is broccoli a top food allergen for babies?
Allergies to broccoli are quite rare. But remember that each person's body responds differently to foods consumed. Whenever you give your baby broccoli (or other foods) for the first time, offer it in small quantities, and watch for any signs of a reaction. If your baby seems to tolerate the food well and you see no adverse reaction, then continue to gradually increase portion sizes when you offer it again to your baby. If your baby shows any symptoms like diarrhea, skin hives, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, swelling of mouth, weakness, or dizziness after the consumption of broccoli, consult your healthcare provider. These symptoms can be a sign of broccoli allergy or intolerance.
Note: Always consult with your healthcare provider regarding introducing solid foods to your baby, and specifically discuss any foods that may pose allergy risks for your baby.
How to buy broccoli for babies
There are three forms of broccoli to buy. Whole broccoli, fresh broccoli florets in a plastic bag, and frozen broccoli florets. Whole broccoli needs to be chopped up and the stem can be used if you peel it. Freezing broccoli does not significantly alter the nutrient content.
When shopping for fresh broccoli, purchase broccoli with florets that are uniformly colored. The florets should be a dark green, sage, or purple-green. Be sure to look over the florets, as they should not be greyish/moldy looking, nor should they be bruised or have any yellow flowers peeking around.
When is broccoli in season?
Although broccoli's season is during Spring and Fall, it can be found pretty much all year round in the stores.
★In-season produce is fresher and tastes better, sweeter and perfectly ripe. They also tend to cost less compared to out-of-season produce. Seasonal produce in your area will vary by growing conditions and weather.
How to store broccoli
Always store fresh broccoli in an open plastic bag in your refrigerator crisper/vegetable drawer. Fresh broccoli should be stored for up to 5 days.
How to prepare and offer broccoli to babies
To safely prepare and offer broccoli for your baby, make sure to cook it to a soft consistency that passes the "squish test" (when you can easily mash food between your fingers or between your tongue and mouth top). And cut broccoli into shapes and sizes that are appropriate to baby's age, stage of development, and feeding skills (see suggestions below).
Cooking broccoli for babies:
For young babies, steaming is the safest because it gets broccoli to a very soft texture that is easy on baby's little gums. Also, steaming broccoli instead of boiling will help retain more of its nutrients. You can saute it in olive oil as well. Microwaving is another option, but a few studies have shown that can lead to loss of some nutrients. Roasting broccoli works, too, but the texture might be too tough for baby. Regardless of the cooking method chosen, be sure that you thoroughly cook it. Do not serve it al dente’ if you will be offering broccoli as a finger food. If you are using bagged broccoli or frozen broccoli, follow the directions on the package for cooking.
Purees: wash broccoli. Cut off florets, and then peel the stem and chop everything. Using just the florets will many times yield a smoother puree. Cook until tender. Smash with a fork or place into your choice of appliance for pureeing. Add water, breast milk or formula, as necessary, to achieve desired consistency. Offer it to baby via spoon feeding or by placing a preloaded spoon on baby’s tray or hand to encourage self-feeding.
6+ months: mashed or puree on a baby spoon or suction bowl
Baby Allie, 7 months eating broccoli puree
Don't get stuck on purees! It's completely ok to start with only pureed foods, if that feels more comfortable to you. However, keep in mind that purees are just a transitional phase into finger foods. It shouldn't last for more than a few days or a couple of weeks. Aim to start exposing your baby to lumpy and finger foods no later than 8 months, unless otherwise advised by your baby's health care provider.
Finger food 6 to 9 months old: at this stage babies use their whole palm or full fists to hold food. So the best way to offer this vegetable to babies this age is by serving whole florets of cooked broccoli. Your baby will probably only eat the soft floret top. You can also cut in half lengthwise or remove the stalk off completely. Place pieces on baby’s tray or in their hand to encourage self-feeding.
Another option is to offer mashed broccoli or its puree on a preloaded spoon so baby can bring it to their mouth independently. You may also serve mashed broccoli in a suction bowl and let baby scoop it with their little hands.
6+ months: whole cooked broccoli florets
Baby Z, 6 months, eating broccoli for the first time
Baby Noah, 6 months eating broccoli
Finger food 9 to 12 months old: you can continue to offer broccoli as recommended above. However, at this stage babies begin to use their pincer grasp (thumb and index finger) to pick up small pieces of food, and some babies might not be as interested in bigger sizes and shapes anymore. So you can move into bite sizes of food about the size of a garbanzo bean. Cut up the tenderest parts of broccoli into bite-size pieces (about the size of a garbanzo bean) for your little one and place on their tray or bowl for self-feeding.
This is also a great stage to start mixing broccoli with other foods and making preparations, since your baby should have already been exposed to a few different foods and you have probably ruled out some possible food allergies or intolerance.
9+ months: bite-sized pieces of cooked broccoli about the size of a garbanzo bean
Baby Daniel, 9 months eating broccoli
Finger food 12+ months old: continue to offer broccoli as suggested above. Incorporate in preparations as well. As your child’s chewing skills advance you may cook broccoli to a less soft texture - ‘al dente’ - if you wish. Encourage the use of utensils, but don’t force it. Sometimes our little ones get tired of using utensils and they might prefer to use their hands. This is completely normal! Know that consistent and accurate utensil use will come in due time, probably between 18 and 24 months of age.
Note: Finger foods are small pieces of food that your baby can pick up and eat easily. Introducing finger foods early, as soon as starting solids, helps your baby get used to different food textures, improves coordination and encourages self-feeding. These are important feeding skills. Babies can enjoy soft finger foods before they have teeth. They can mash foods into smaller pieces using their gums.
⚠️Avoid putting finger foods or whole foods in your baby's mouth for them. Your baby must do this at their own pace and under their own control.⚠️
Broccoli meal ideas for babies
Serve cooked florets tossed with olive oil, coconut oil and topped with grated cheese or or natural yeast; broccoli makes a great finger food.
Stir cooked broccoli into mac ‘n cheese.
Chop cooked broccoli florets very finely and mix them into baby’s favorite pasta sauce or soup.
As always, discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider. This post and this site is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice. The materials and services provided by this site are for informational purposes only.
Library Symbol Legend
Here in our Food Library we use some symbols or emojis to make it easier for you to find what you need. Listed below are the symbols we use and what they mean.
🔥 - this is a high-calorie food. You should include a high-calorie food at each meal.
💪 - this is an iron-rich food. You should include an iron-rich food at each meal.
🌈 - this is a colorful food. You should include a fruit and/or a vegetable at each meal.
🥇 - this food is a great choice for baby's first food.
🌱 - this food is a great choice for plant-based babies.
💩 - this is a food that helps prevent or treat constipation.
🥜 - this food contains peanuts, a common food allergen.
🍳 - this food contains egg, a common food allergen.
🐄 - this food contains cow's milk, a common food allergen.
🌾 - this food contains wheat, a common food allergen.
✳️ - this food contains soy, a common food allergen.
💮 - this food contains sesame seed, a common food allergen.
🌰 - this food contains tree nuts, a common food allergen.
🐠 - this food contains fish, a common food allergen.
🍤 - this food contains shellfish, a common food allergen.
⚠️ - this food is a common choking hazard. Make sure to follow age and preparation guidelines.
★ - tips, tricks, and hacks.
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Broccoli | Food Source Information. (2020, October 23). Food Source Information. Retrieved June 30, 2021, from https://fsi.colostate.edu/broccoli1/
Harvard Health. (2018, December 1). Vegetable of the month: Broccoli. Retrieved June 30, 2021, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/vegetable-of-the-month-broccoli
Sugita, Y., Makino, T., Mizawa, M., & Shimizu, T. (2016). Mugwort-Mustard Allergy Syndrome due to Broccoli Consumption. Case Reports in Dermatological Medicine, 2016, 1–3. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/8413767
Kaczmarek, J. L., Liu, X., Charron, C. S., Novotny, J. A., Jeffery, E. H., Seifried, H. E., Ross, S. A., Miller, M. J., Swanson, K. S., & Holscher, H. D. (2019). Broccoli consumption affects the human gastrointestinal microbiota. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 63, 27–34. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnutbio.2018.09.015
Broccoli. (n.d.). Specialty Produce. Retrieved June 30, 2021, from https://specialtyproduce.com/produce/broccoli/broccoli_784.php