Beet (beetroot) may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.
Thousands of years ago, humans learned to cultivate the taproot of a wild plant whose leafy greens had served as a source of nutrient-rich food in the fertile lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea for ages. That evolutionary milestone paved the way to the modern beet that we know and love today: a bulbous, colorful root vegetable that can be eaten raw, cooked, or preserved.
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Juliet Rose, 6 months, eats a large piece of cooked beet.
Callie, 10 months, eats roasted beets.
Río, 17 months, eats pieces of cooked beet.
Yes. Beets are full of nutrients, including fiber for healthy digestion and folate, an essential nutrient to fuel a child’s development in this early stage of life. Beets also contain carotenoids, phenols, and many other plant nutrients that act as antioxidants and support cellular health.
Different varieties of beetroots come in hues of red, yellow, or white, and sometimes they are striped with pink. Each variety offers a unique set of phytonutrients. For example, dark red beets are packed with nutrients that support the liver and act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatories – important qualities to help fight against toxins in our modern world. Note: Red beets often change the color of baby’s poop and urine to bright red. Don’t worry if this happens! It’s natural.
You may have heard that beets contain nitrates—naturally-occurring plant compounds that may negatively affect oxygen levels in blood when consumed in great excess. First, know that the benefits of eating vegetables typically outweigh the risks of any nitrate exposure from vegetables. Second, babies with health concerns or who are under 3 months of age are the most susceptible to the effects of nitrates. Organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the European Food Safety Authority generally do not view nitrates in vegetables as a concern for most healthy children.
To reduce nitrate exposure, avoid consumption of untested well water and take care with purees. When possible, avoid homemade purees made with higher nitrate vegetables that are stored for more than 24 hours and commercial purees not consumed within 24 hours of opening. Higher nitrate vegetables include arugula, beets, carrots, lettuce, spinach, and squash, among others.
★Tip: Pre-cooked, canned, or pre-packaged beets are a great choice when fresh or frozen beets are not an option. Be sure to read the package label and choose low-sodium brands with no added sugar. Rinsing canned beets may reduce the sodium.
Yes. Beets can be a choking hazard because they’re slippery and firm – two qualities that increase the risk. To minimize the risk, cook beets until completely soft and cut into age-appropriate sizes, or grate raw beet. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of baby at mealtime.
No. Beet allergies are rare, though an individual could be allergic to any food in theory.
As you would do when introducing any new food, start by offering a small amount for the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the amount served over future meals.
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience. Your child is an individual and may have needs or considerations beyond generally accepted practices. In determining the recommendations for size and shape of foods, we use the best available scientific information regarding gross, fine, and oral motor development to minimize choking risk. The preparation suggestions we offer are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for child-specific, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional or provider. It is impossible to fully eliminate all risk of a baby or child choking on any liquid, puree, or food. We advise you to follow all safety protocols we suggest to create a safe eating environment and to make educated choices for your child regarding their specific needs. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
Cook the whole beet until it is completely soft and easily pierced with a knife, then peel and discard the skin. If the beet is very large you can serve it whole, cut in half, or even in large quarters. If the beet is on the smaller size (as many pre-packaged beets are), you may want to mash or grate. Just take care to serve beets on bath day because this is one messy vegetable! Red beet stains almost anything it touches, including baby’s skin and clothes. Remember, red beets can also change the color of baby’s poop and urine to bright red. Don’t worry if this happens! It’s natural.
Offer bite-sized pieces of cooked beetroot with the skins removed. At this age, babies develop the pincer grasp (where the thumb and pointer finger meet), which enables them to pick up smaller pieces of food. When you see signs of this development happening, try offering bite-sized pieces of cooked beetroot for baby to try to pick up. If you like, you can also continue with whole or halved cooked beets for biting and chewing practice.
Utensil time! If you have not introduced a fork yet, this is a good time to do so, and cooked, soft beetroot is a great food for fork practice. Offer bite-sized pieces of cooked beets and pre-load baby’s fork or trainer chopsticks as needed. Be patient: consistent, independent use of utensils may not happen until closer to 18 months of age.
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1 ¼ cups (150 grams)
1 large beetroot (90 grams)
2 teaspoons (10 grams) orange juice
2 teaspoons (10 grams) olive oil
Scrub the vegetable under water, then peel and discard the skin and slice off and discard the root and stem ends. If you have kitchen gloves, this is a good time to wear them to keep the beet juice from staining your hands.
Place the beetroot in an oven safe dish. Add 1 cup (240 milliliters) water. Cover the dish and roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 degrees Celsius) until the beetroot is easily pierced with a knife, between 30 and 60 minutes depending on its size. Remove the dish from the oven. Uncover the dish and transfer the beetroot to a mixing bowl to let cool.
Prepare the apple. First, wash, dry, peel, and halve the apple. Cut out and discard the core, seeds, and stem. Place the apple in a medium pot and add 1 cup (240 milliliters) water. Cover the pot and set it on medium-high heat. When the pot reaches a boil, lower the heat to create a gentle simmer. Stew the apple until it is soft and easily pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the apple from the liquid to a mixing bowl. Discard the stewing liquid, or reserve it from another use, like tea.
Cut the beet into halves or large quarters and quarter the apple and place the beet and apple in the mixing bowl.
Pour the orange juice and olive oil over the beetroot and apple. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.
Scoop some salad into the child’s bowl or serve directly on the tray. Exact serving size is variable. Let a child’s appetite determine how much is eaten.
Serve and let the child try to self-feed by scooping with hands. If baby needs help picking up the food, try passing in the air for baby to grab.
To Store: Beetroot and Apple Salad keeps in an air-tight container in the fridge for 4 days or in the freezer for 2 months.
Beetroot tastes earthy and sweet – a flavor that deepens as the vegetable is exposed to heat during the cooking process. Try pairing beets with creamy foods like avocado, coconut, egg, goat cheese, kefir, mascarpone cheese, ricotta cheese, or yogurt to balance the strong flavor of the vegetable. Add ground nuts like hazelnut, pecan, or walnut or serve alongside legumes like chickpea or lentils or grains like Khorasan wheat or quinoa for a complimentary earthy flavor. Beets also taste delicious with fellow fruits and vegetables like apple, asparagus, cabbage, carrot, garden peas, green beans, lemon, onion, orange, pear, potato, and snap peas.
Pediatrician & pediatric gastroenterologist
Pediatrician & pediatric allergist/immunologist
Pediatric occupational therapist, feeding & swallowing specialist, international board-certified lactation consultant
Speech-language pathologist, feeding & swallowing specialist
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