Broccoli

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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two heads of broccoli on a table before being steamed for babies starting solids

When can babies eat broccoli?

Broccoli, when cooked to a soft consistency, can be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Super nutritious and a fun texture for babies to explore, broccoli is a terrific first food.

Kalani, 8 months, eats steamed broccoli.
Callie, 11 months, eats cooked broccoli.

Is broccoli healthy for babies?

Broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse. It contains a number of vitamins and minerals that babies need, including vitamins A, C, K, B6 and folate, and it even contains every other mineral including iron and zinc, the latter of which are crucial for optimal growth and development.

Broccoli has a number of cousins that are also wonderful for babies: romanesco (a gorgeous lime-green Italian variety); purple sprouting broccoli, which is common in England; and broccoli rabe, a more bitter variety. All are wonderfully nutritious for babies. Fun fact: broccoli is actually an edible flower!

Is broccoli a common choking hazard for babies?

While broccoli does not top the list of choking hazards, theoretically any food can present a risk if not prepared and/or cut correctly for your baby. To minimize the chance of choking, steam the broccoli florets until soft, then slice each floret in half lengthwise along the stalk. You can also cut the stalk off entirely if you prefer.

For more information, visit our section on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with common choking hazards.

Is broccoli a common allergen?

No. Allergies to broccoli are rare, though in theory one could be allergic to any food.

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

6 to 9 months old: Serve large, whole florets of steamed broccoli for your baby to munch on. For the youngest eaters, if you serve large broccoli florets upside down (on the head, stem up), your baby will likely pick it up by the stem and then eat the soft floret top. If the broccoli stem makes you nervous, cut large florets in half, through the stem, and serve that way.

9 to 12 months old: At this age your baby is starting to develop their pincer grasp, where the thumb and pointer finger meet. Try moving down in size to small, bite-sized pieces. If your baby is having a hard time picking small pieces up, move back up in size. Large pieces of food are completely fine–just make sure they are cooked well and soft.

12 to 24 months old: As your baby becomes more of an advanced eater, you can decrease the amount of time you are steaming or cooking the broccoli a bit. Follow your baby’s ability (and your gut instinct) and incorporate broccoli into any dish as desired.

Nervous about baby starting solids? Our virtual course leaves no stone unturned and will teach you everything you need to know about serving babies real food.

Steaming broccoli (as opposed to boiling) will help retain its nutrients. Roasting broccoli works, too, though the oven method tends to yield a tougher texture. For young babies, steaming is the safest option and has the benefit of being soft on their little gums.

Recipe: Lemony Broccoli

seven steamed broccoli florets sitting on a countertop

Ingredients

  • Broccoli (1 head)
  • Lemon
  • Olive oil or unsalted butter

Directions

  1. Wash the broccoli, then cut the florets away from the stalk.
  2. Steam the broccoli florets until completely soft (though not to the point where they’re mushy). While the broccoli is steaming, melt some butter, if using.
  3. Pour the melted butter or olive oil into a mixing bowl, and squeeze a little bit of lemon juice into it. Mix well.
  4. Remove the broccoli from the steamer. Once cool, cut each floret in half, making sure the stalk is also cut in half.
  5. Add the broccoli to the bowl with the lemony butter/oil, and stir the mix to coat the florets.
  6. Broccoli florets can be easily served as a finger food or chopped up and folded into an omelet.

Flavor Pairings

Broccoli pairs well with anchovy, beef, cauliflower, lemon and Parmesan cheese.