Brussels sprouts, when cooked until soft, may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.
Brussels sprouts are brassicas—a diverse plant family derived from wild cabbages in the Mediterranean region. So, what’s the deal with its name in English? Ancient migration and trade led to cabbage varieties that thrived in cooler climates, like the farmlands near Brussels, where “spruitjes” have been widely grown since the 13th century. With trade across the North Sea, the tiny sprouts took on the name of the Belgian capital where they grew. Brussels sprouts can taste bitter, although recent agricultural innovation has led to new varieties that minimize those harsher flavors. These offer a nuttier, sweeter taste that appeals to many taste buds—perhaps why this once-maligned vegetable has become a go-to ingredient for many.
Juliet Rose, 7 months, eats steamed quartered brussels sprouts.
Callie, 12 months, eats brussels sprouts for the first time.
Max, 15 months, tries brussels sprouts and asks for more. Only serve whole or halved brussels sprouts when your baby has become an advanced eater (chews well, swallows well, and doesn’t overstuff their mouth).
Yes. Brussels sprouts are loaded with fiber, folate, B vitamins, potassium, and vitamin K. Brussels sprouts also provide some vitamin E, choline, iron, and zinc. That’s not all—they provide pretty much every other nutrient babies need to thrive, including calcium, vitamin A, and carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin), vitamin C, and magnesium. Plus, these “mini cabbages” are packed with phytonutrients that help protect human cells, support the immune system, and fight against cancer. Lastly, they also contain a dash of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) omega-3 fatty acids, which aid in healthy brain development.
★Tip: Minimize exposure to pesticides by washing brussels sprouts thoroughly before cooking. Pesticide use on cruciferous vegetables is common, and brussels sprouts are no exception.
Yes, very small sprouts are a choking risk because of their round shape and firm texture. To minimize the risk, cook brussels sprouts until soft and cut into quarters, so they are no longer round. Note that individual leaves can stick to baby’s tongue or the roof of their mouth and cause some harmless gagging. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meals. For more information on choking, visit our sections on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.
No. Allergies to brussels sprouts are rare, but possible. Individuals who are allergic or sensitive to other members of the cruciferous family, such as mustard greens and cauliflower, may also be sensitive to brussels sprouts. People who are allergic to mugwort may be allergic to brussels sprouts or experience Oral Allergy Syndrome (also known as pollen-food allergy). Oral Allergy Syndrome typically results in short-lived itching, tingling, or burning in the mouth and is unlikely to result in a dangerous reaction.
As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity for the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.
Use brussels sprouts in salads, slaws, and stir-fries. When shredded (cooked or raw) brussels sprouts work well in egg dishes, fried rice, noodles and pasta, soups, stews, tacos, and almost any recipe that calls for shredded cabbage. If you find brussels sprouts taste too bitter, use hearty fats like butter, olive oil, or peanut oil when preparing them. You can also balance the bitterness by serving brussels sprouts with foods rich in fat, like avocado, cheese, or nuts. How you cook brussels sprouts also makes a difference. Blasting them with high heat (frying, grilling, roasting, sautéing) mellows the bitterness by enhancing the sprouts’ nutty, sweet flavors. Alternatively, cooking brussels sprouts in water (boiling, steaming) leaches bitterness from the greens, resulting in a mellower flavor.
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience.
Bigger is better! Start with larger brussels sprouts (much bigger than baby’s mouth, at least 2 inches in diameter), then halve or quarter them and cook until soft. You can also mix shredded and steamed brussels sprouts into a soft, scoopable food like mashed potato.
Try offering bite-sized or quartered pieces of brussels sprouts that have been cooked to a soft consistency for baby to practice picking up with their developing pincer grasp (where the thumb and forefinger meet). If you’d like to continue offering cooked brussels sprout halves, go for it. Just be intentional about teaching baby to take bites and model chewing.
Explore a wide range of recipes that use brussels sprouts—including dishes with shredded, raw brussels sprouts. When you feel comfortable with the child’s biting and chewing skills, try decreasing the cooking time to offer bite-sized and quarter pieces of brussels sprouts that are a bit firmer in texture. This is also a great age to encourage self-feeding with utensils. If the child needs help, simply pre-load an age-appropriate fork with bite-sized pieces of cooked brussels sprouts, and lay it next to the food for the child to pick up. Alternatively, pass the utensil in the air for the child to grab from you.
How to prepare brussels sprouts for babies 6 months+.
Get baby’s caregivers on the same page as you with our guide, Baby-led Weaning with Daycare & Caregivers.
1 ½ c (360 ml)
This recipe contains common allergens: dairy (butter) and tree nut (pecan). Only serve to a child after these allergens have been safely introduced.
Cut off the woody stems from the brussels sprouts, then halve the sprouts lengthwise.
Warm the butter and oil in a skillet set on medium heat. Add the sprouts and cook until they start to soften around the edges, about 2 minutes.
Pour in ½ c (120 ml) of water then cover the skillet. Turn up the heat to steam the sprouts until they are easily pierced with the tip of a knife, between 4 and 5 minutes. You may continue to steam the sprouts until they are so soft that they can be easily smashed, though longer cook times result in a stronger sulfurous flavor.
Season the sprouts with lemon juice, black pepper, and finely ground-up pecan.
Set aside some sprouts for your child and cut them into age-appropriate sizes. Season the rest with salt to taste for yourself.
Serve the Sprouts
Offer lemon butter brussels sprouts and let your child self-feed.
If help is needed, pass a brussels sprout in the air in front of your child, then let them grab it from you. Never place small, round pieces of food like brussels sprouts directly in a child’s mouth.
Eat some brussels sprouts alongside the child to model how it’s done.
To Store: Lemon Butter Brussels Sprouts keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Pediatrician & pediatric gastroenterologist
Pediatrician & pediatric allergist/immunologist
Pediatric occupational therapist, feeding & swallowing specialist, international board-certified lactation consultant
Speech-language pathologist, feeding & swallowing specialist
Speech-language pathologist & feeding therapist
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