Beet (Beetroot)

Food Type:
Age Suggestion: 6 months +
Nutrition Rating:How nutritious a food is with a focus on the specific nutrients babies need for optimal growth. The more nutritious a food, the more stars it will have.
Prep Time:How much time a food takes to prepare safely for a baby. The more time-consuming a food is to prepare safely, the more clocks it will have.
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Common Allergen: No
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a bunch of red beets with the leaves intact before being prepared for babies starting solids

When can babies eat beets?

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.

Recommended Guide: 75 Lunch Menus for Babies & Toddlers

Charles, 9 months, eats a steamed beet.
Callie, 10 months, eats roasted beets.
Hawii, 11 months, eats cooked beets.

Are beets healthy for babies?

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.1

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.2 First, know that the benefits of eating vegetables typically outweigh the risks of any nitrate exposure from vegetables.3 4 Second, babies with health concerns or who are under 3 months of age are the most susceptible to the effects of nitrates.5 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.6 7

To reduce nitrate exposure, avoid consumption of untested well water and take care with purees.8 9 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.10 Higher nitrate vegetables include arugula, beets, carrots, lettuce, spinach, and squash, among others.11

★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.12

Are beets a common choking hazard for babies?

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.

For more information on choking, visit our sections on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.

Are beets a common allergen?

No. Beet allergies are rare, though an individual could be allergic to any food in theory.13

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.

How do you prepare beets for babies with baby-led weaning?

6 to 8 months old: Cook the whole beetroot until it is completely soft and easily pierced with a knife, then peel and discard the skin, and cut the vegetable in half or in quarters to offer to baby. You can also mash or grate raw or cooked beets. 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.

9 to 12 months old: Offer quarters 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.

12 to 24 months old: 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.

Starting solids is a messy business—read our Tips for Minimizing the Mess.

Recipe: Beetroot and Apple Salad

Yield: 1 ¼ cups (150 grams)
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Age: 6 months+

Ingredients

  • 1 medium beetroot (75 grams) or 1/3 package (2 ½ ounces) pre-cooked beets
  • 1 apple
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) olive oil

Directions

  1. If you are using pre-cooked beetroots, skip to Step 3. If you are using fresh beetroot, 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Cut the beetroot and apple into quarters and place in the mixing bowl.
  5. Pour the orange juice and olive oil over the beetroot and apple. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.
  6. 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.
  7. Serve and let the child self-feed by scooping with hands. If you’d like to encourage the use of a utensil, simply pre-load a spoon or fork and rest it next to the bowl for the child to try to pick up. Alternatively, pass the pre-loaded utensil in the air for the child to grab from you.

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.

Flavor Pairings

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.

Reviewed by

E. Cerda, MSN, CNS, LDN

A. Gilbaugh, RD, CNSC

K. Rappaport, OTR/L, MS, SCFES, IBCLC

S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)

R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist

  1. Hadipour, E., Taleghani, A., Tayarani‐Najaran, N., & Tayarani‐Najaran, Z. (2020). Biological effects of red beetroot and betalains: A review. Phytotherapy Research. DOI: 10.1002/ptr.6653. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  2. Brkić, D., Bošnir, J., Bevardi, M., Bošković, A. G., Miloš, S., et al. (2017). NITRATE IN LEAFY GREEN VEGETABLES AND ESTIMATED INTAKE. African journal of traditional, complementary, and alternative medicines, 14(3), 31–41. DOI: 10.21010/ajtcam.v14i3.4. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  3. Filer, L. J., Lowe, C. J., Barness, L. A., Goldbloom, R. B., Heald, F. P., et al. (1970). Infant Methemoglobinemia: The Role of Dietary Nitrate. Official Journal of The American Academy of Pediatrics, 46(3), 475-478. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  4. European Food Safety Authority. (2017). EFSA Explains Risk Assessment: Nitrites and Nitrates Added in Food. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  5. Preboth, M. (2005). AAP clinical report on infant methemoglobinemia. American Family Physician, 72 (12), 2558. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  6. Greer FR, Shannon M; American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition; American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Environmental Health. Infant methemoglobinemia: the role of dietary nitrate in food and water. Pediatrics. 2005;116(3):784-786. doi:10.1542/peds.2005-1497. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  7. EFSA Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM). (2010). Statement on possible public health risks for infants and young children from the presence of nitrates in leafy vegetables. EFSA Journal, 8(12), 1935. Retrieved September 2, 2021.
  8. Hord, N. G., Tang, Y., Bryan, N. S. (2009). Food sources of nitrates and nitrites: the physiological context for potential health benefits. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 90(1), 1-10. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.2008.27131. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  9. Greer FR, Shannon M; American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition; American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Environmental Health. Infant methemoglobinemia: the role of dietary nitrate in food and water. Pediatrics. 2005;116(3):784-786. doi:10.1542/peds.2005-1497. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  10. Chan TY. (2011). Vegetable-borne nitrate and nitrite and the risk of methaemoglobinaemia. Toxicol Lett, 15, 200(1-2):107-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2010.11.002. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  11. Lidder, S., & Webb, A. J. (2013). Vascular effects of dietary nitrate (as found in green leafy vegetables and beetroot) via the nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway. British journal of clinical pharmacology, 75(3), 677–696. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04420.x. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  12. Vermeulen, R.T., Sedor, F.A., Kimm, S.Y. (1983). Effect of Water Rinsing on Sodium Content of Selected Foods. Journal of American Dietetic Association, 82(4), 949-969. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  13. Lopes de Olivera, L. et al. (2011) Anaphylaxis to beetroot (Beta vulgaris): a case report. Clinical & translational allergy, doi:10.1186/2045-7022-1-S1-P51. Retrieved December 15, 2019.