Cassava (also called bankye, khoai mi, mandioca, and yuca) may be introduced as soon as your baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Never serve or eat raw cassava (regardless of age) as the plant contains natural toxins that can cause serious health problems. To be safe for consumption, cassava must be cooked or processed into a food product, which humans have been successfully doing for tens of thousands of years.
Cassava is native to Central and South America, where Indigenous communities first cultivated the tropical plant for its abundant roots, whose rich starches can nourish our bodies with energy-rich carbohydrates. European colonizers took the plant (and casabe, a hearty bread made by Indigenous people that keeps for extended periods) to Africa and Asia, where the root became an important agricultural crop. Today cassava joins maize and rice as a staple food for millions of people on our planet. The tuber’s tough bark-like rind protects pale flesh that is incredibly versatile as a food source. Just like potatoes and yams, cassava can be cooked in many ways (baked cassava! cassava chips! cassava fries! mashed cassava!) or processed to make cereal, flour, meal, or starch, otherwise known as tapioca. That’s right—we have cassava to thank for delicious sweets like boba tea and tapioca pudding!
Eunoia, 7 months, eats kolak (a dish made with cassava and banana).
Amelia, 8 months, eats cooked cassava.
Callie, 12 months, eats cooked cassava.
Yes—however, the plant contains natural toxins that must be broken down through the cooking process. Never serve raw cassava in any form to your baby or anyone for that matter, but also don’t let this stop you from exploring this tasty and important food.
Once it is cooked, cassava root offers lots of carbohydrates to fuel your baby’s body and plenty of vitamin C to support immunity and skin health. The root also contains a little potassium and trace amounts of calcium and iron.
Cooked cassava root and cassava products like flour, meal, and starch are excellent sources of carbohydrates—especially for gluten-free families—when served as part of a balanced diet. However, children who consume cassava as a dietary staple can be at risk for nutrient deficiencies. For families whose diets are built around cassava as the main food source, the addition of foods like legumes, meat, and vegetables can provide iron, zinc, protein, and other essential nutrients that kids need to thrive.
★ Shopping Tip: When purchasing whole cassava root, consider buying more than you think you will need. The fresh tuber has a short shelf life and it can be hard to tell if cassava has started to spoil due to its tough rind. Once skinned and cut open, compost any sections that contain dark or discolored areas. The flesh should be bright white and streak-free!
No. Cooked cassava is not a common choking hazard, though tapioca pearls in boba drinks, puddings, and desserts can be. Tapioca pearls are not recommended for babies in general as they are highly processed and typically served with plenty of added sugars. As always, be sure to create a safe eating environment and always stay near your baby during mealtime. Check out our age-appropriate serving suggestions!
No. Cassava is not a common allergen, although allergic reactions are not unheard of, and individuals who are allergic to latex may be sensitive to cassava.
As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity on its own for the first couple of servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity 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.
Offer large sections of well-cooked cassava for your baby to eat as a finger food or mashed cassava that your baby can scoop with hands or eat from a preloaded spoon. As a reminder, never serve or eat raw or undercooked cassava.
Serve bite-size pieces of well-cooked cassava if your baby has developed their pincer grasp and consider continuing to offer large pieces of cooked cassava for biting and tearing practice. You can, of course, continue with mashed cassava as well, letting your baby eat with their hands or from a pre-loaded utensil.
Fork time! While you can certainly introduce a fork earlier, this is a great time to step up practice time with utensils. Serve bite-size pieces and show how to pierce them with a fork (making a “boink!” sound can help) and be prepared for your toddler to toggle back and forth between eating with utensils and their fingers. Mashed cassava, because it is thick and sticks to spoons well, is also great for independent spoon practice.
Once peeled, cut away and compost any sections that are dark or streaky, and use only flesh that is pure in color. Cassava flesh ranges from bright white to pale yellow depending on the variety.
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2 c (480 ml)
Boil the Cassava
Fill a large pot halfway with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
While the water is warming, peel the cassava and cut it into sections about the size of two adult fingers pressed together.
Cook cassava in boiling water until it is easily pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Drain.
Slice the cassava in half lengthwise. Remove the inner fiber. Mash the warm cassava while it is still warm.
Season the Cassava
Peel and mince the garlic and onion while the cassava is boiling.
Warm the oil in a skillet set on medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it softens and starts to carmelize, about 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and pepper paste. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in the mashed cassava and turn up the heat. Let the cassava form a light crust on the bottom, about 5 minutes, then stir to break up the crust. Remove from the heat.
Season with lime juice to taste. Set aside some cassava for your child, then season the rest with salt to taste for yourself.
Serve the Cassava
Offer cassava and let your child self-feed.
If help is needed, pre-load a spoon with cassava, then hold it in the air in front of your child and let them grab it from you.
Eat some cassava alongside your child to model how it’s done.
To Store: Majado de Yuca keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Mildly sweet with a subtle earthiness, cassava root can serve as a blank canvas for your favorite flavors. Try seasoning with bold spices like ground cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, or spicy pepper. Splash with lime, orange, or lemon to counter the starchiness with a little acidity. Add a layer of flavor with fresh herbs like cilantro, lemongrass, mint, or Thai basil. Serve with chicken, pork, shrimp, or your preferred protein for a balanced meal.
J. Truppi, MSN, CNS
V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP
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
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