When can babies eat cabbage?
Cabbage may be introduced as soon as your baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.
Cabbage is a member of the cruciferous family, along with other common hearty vegetables: broccoli, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts. There are hundreds of varieties of cabbages on our planet, from the common green or red cabbage, to sometimes harder-to-find napa and savoy cabbages. The taste varies depending on the variety: napa cabbage has a mild, slightly sweet flavor, while red cabbage tastes earthy and slightly bitter. The taste and texture of cabbage changes dramatically during the cooking process. Read on for preparation ideas!
Is cabbage healthy for babies?
Yes. Cabbage is a powerhouse vegetable. The cruciferous veggie contains plenty of vitamin C to power your baby’s immune system and vitamin K to support healthy blood. There’s also lots of fiber and even some protein.
Keep in mind that the nutritional profile can vary depending on the cabbage variety. Red and green cabbages offer phytonutrients (or antioxidants) that support different functions in our bodies and help babies stay healthy. Red and purple cabbages in particular contain potent levels of anthocyanins, a heart-healthy nutrient also found in berries and grapes.
The nutritional profile of cabbage also changes with the cooking method. In Asian and European cultures, fermented cabbage (called kimchi, pàocài, roedkaal, sauerkraut, or surkal depending on the country) is a staple food for good reason: fermented cabbage contains more antioxidants, nutrients like copper and iron, and healthy bacteria called probiotics, which help diversify our gut microbiomes. Since babies are born with microbiome DNA—but not the bacteria themselves—it’s important to help cultivate friendly flora in their gastrointestinal tracts in order to build a robust immune system. Fermented cabbage can help, but take care to offer only small amounts as fermented products can be high in sodium.
Is cabbage a choking hazard for babies?
No. Cabbage is not a common choking hazard, but in theory, an individual can choke on any food. Read on for preparation methods and recipe ideas to serve cabbage in an age-appropriate way.
Is cabbage a common allergen?
No. Allergies to cabbage are rare, but if individuals who are allergic or sensitive to mustard greens or mustard seed, may be sensitive to cabbage.1
As with all new foods, start by serving a small quantity on its own for the first couple of times. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future servings.
How do you prepare cabbage for babies with baby-led weaning?
Every baby develops on their own timeline. The preparation suggestions below are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional, nutritionist, or expert in pediatric feeding and eating. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
6 to 12 months old: There are a number of options: you can serve cooked, shredded cabbage on its own or in other dishes, strips of raw cabbage for your baby to munch on, or tiny portions of fermented cabbage to help your baby build healthy gut bacteria. For information on how to serve fermented cabbage, check out our kimchi page.
12 to 24 months old: Serve cooked or fermented cabbage in any form, or offer shredded raw cabbage on its own or mixed into a slaw. You can also serve wedges of raw cabbage for fun (crunch!) and for chewing practice.
For more information on how to cut food for your baby’s age, hop over to our section on Food Sizes & Shapes.
★Tip: Making cabbage rolls? Freezing cabbage for a few hours before preparing the dish will make the leaves more pliable.
Recipe: Coleslaw for Babies
- Green or red cabbage
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Vinegar of your choice
- Celery seed (optional)
Cut the cabbage in half. Cut away and discard the inner core. Finely slice the cabbage or run it through a food processor to shred it.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanche the cabbage for one minute, then pour into a colander to drain. Press and squeeze out the excess liquid.
In a mixing bowl, combine a splash or two of olive oil and a dash of vinegar. Add a sprinkling of celery seed if using. Give the cabbage a final squeeze to remove any lingering water, then transfer to the mixing bowl. Stir to coat the cabbage in the sauce.
Serve in a bowl and encourage your baby to self-feed by either hand scooping or pre-loading an age-appropriate fork for your baby to pick up independently.
Flavor Pairings: Cooked cabbage pairs well with the strong flavors of anchovy, blue cheese, garlic, mustard, and onions, as well as proteins like beef, chicken, lamb, pork, and shellfish.
- Blaiss, MS., McCants, ML., Lehrer, SB. (1987). Anaphylaxis to cabbage: detection of allergens. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunology, 58(4):248-50. Retrieved April 2, 2020