Cauliflower

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.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Poop Friendly:Whether a food has qualities that help baby poop. Yes
Common Allergen: No
Jump to Recipe ↓
a head of white cauliflower

When can babies eat cauliflower?

Cauliflower, when cooked until soft, may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.

Where does cauliflower come from?

“Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” American author Mark Twain was no botanist, but he has a point about cauliflower’s origins. Long ago, in the fertile lands around the Mediterranean Sea, humans bred cauliflower and other brassicas from wild cabbage plants growing in cool, sunny, climates. With its mildly nutty flavor, cauliflower entered the repertoire of ancient Roman cooking, where it was prized as the tastiest of all the cabbages. Colonization and trade brought cauliflower worldwide, and over time, agricultural innovation produced new varieties with domed crowns ranging in color, from the common cream-colored varieties, to others that are bright green, golden orange, or deep purple.

Levi, 7 months, works with steamed cauliflower. At this age, large pieces of food are actually better than small.
Amelia, 8 months, tastes purple cauliflower (steamed) for the first time.
Hawii, 12 months, eats steamed cauliflower.

Is cauliflower healthy for babies?

Yes. Cauliflower is a good source of fiber to support baby’s digestive health and is packed with B vitamins, including B6 and folate, as well as choline for cell energy. As with other cruciferous veggies, cauliflower has a decent amount of vitamin C, which helps our bodies absorb iron—a critical nutrient at this stage of life. It also supplies vitamin K for healthy blood and is rich in phytochemicals that support baby’s overall development.

Cauliflower is bred to grow in a range of colors, each offering slightly different nutrients. For example, green cauliflower contains chlorophyll, purple contains anthocyanins and all cauliflower – particularly the orange kind – contains beta-carotene.1 2 3 Feeding a wide variety of colorful plant foods to early eaters is one way to combat picky eating, while also providing plenty of nutrients for growth.

Steaming or roasting cauliflower helps preserve its nutrient content while increasing nutrient absorption in the body.4 Another bonus to cooking cauliflower is the reduction of pesticide residues, which are common in growing cauliflower.5

★Tip: Cauliflower has lots of vitamin C, a nutrient that helps our bodies absorb non-heme iron from plants. Serve cauliflower alongside iron-rich plant foods like beans, dark leafy greens, lentils, mushrooms, and tofu to help boost absorption of this critical nutrient that babies need to thrive.

Is cauliflower a common choking hazard for babies?

Yes, raw or undercooked cauliflower is firm and hard to chew. To minimize the risk, steam or roast cauliflower until soft and cut stems in half lengthwise. 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.

Is cauliflower a common allergen?

No. Allergies to cauliflower are rare, but not unheard of.6 7 Individuals who are allergic or sensitive to other members of the cruciferous family, such as mustard greens and broccoli, may also be sensitive to cauliflower.8 9

Individuals with Oral Allergy Syndrome (also known as pollen food allergy syndrome), and in particular, those with sensitivities to mugwort pollen, may also be sensitive to cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower.10 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.

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

6 to 9 months old: Bigger is better! At this age, larger pieces of food are easier for babies to grab and munch on and help baby learn the contours of their mouth. Steam large florets until they are completely soft and pierceable with a fork or can be easily mashed with the tongue, and slice the whole floret in half vertically so the stalk is no longer round. If you are nervous about serving large florets, mash the cauliflower for baby to scoop.

9 to 12 months old: Try offering bite-sized pieces (about the size of a large adult knuckle) of cauliflower floret for baby to practice their developing pincer grasp (where the forefinger and thumb meet). If you’d like to continue offering large florets of cooked cauliflower, go for it, and use the opportunity to model for baby how to take bites.

12 to 24 months old: Continue offering cooked cauliflower florets as desired, both on their own and cooked into shared meals. To encourage the use of utensils, pre-load a fork with bite-sized pieces of cooked cauliflower, and lay it down for the child to pick up. Alternatively, pass the utensil in the air for the child to grab from you. Closer to the child’s second birthday, once you see they are able to take accurate bites and chew food thoroughly, try gradually decreasing the cook time so that the cauliflower is not completely soft.

Take the guesswork out of baby’s solid food journey with our First 100 Days: Daily Meal Plan for Starting Solids.

What are recipe ideas for cooking with cauliflower for babies?

Bake a whole cauliflower crown to create a showstopper for a vegan feast. Slice a crown into thin “steaks,” then marinate in your favorite sauce and grill them in the same way as meat. Blend the crown into cauliflower “rice,” which functions like a grain in casseroles, salads, and stews. Blend cauliflower with bone broth, cashew cream, or yogurt to create a creamy sauce for pasta. The entire plant is edible, from its thick stalk that can be cooked like kohlrabi or rutabaga, to its sturdy leaves that function as stand-ins for collard greens or kale.

★Tip: Cauliflower has a long shelf-life in the freezer. To freeze cauliflower, blanch florets for 3 minutes, then drain and dry them before storing them in an airtight container in the freezer.

Recipe: Lemony Cauliflower

five steamed cauliflower florets sitting on a countertop with 2 slices of lemon next to them

Yield: 3 cups (720 milliliters)
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Age: 6 months+

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Wash the cauliflower florets. 
  2. Place the florets in a steamer basket in a pot. Add 1 cup (240 milliliters) of water.  
  3. Cover and set the pot on medium-high heat. Cook until the florets are soft, about 10 minutes.
  4. Transfer the florets to a mixing bowl. Drizzle the oil and lemon juice on the florets. Stir to coat.
  5. Scoop some florets onto baby’s plate. Exact serving size varies. Let the child decide how much to eat.
  6. Season the remaining florets for adults and older children with salt to taste.

Serve the Cauliflower

  1. Serve the florets as finger food and the child self-feed with their hands. 
  2. If you’d like to encourage the use of utensils, pre-load a utensil and place it next to the food for the child to pick up. Alternatively, pass a preloaded utensil in the air for the child to grab.

To Store: Lemony Cauliflower keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 days or in the freezer for 2 months.

★ Tip: Like to meal prep? This recipe can be easily scaled up. Just don’t salt the food. This way, the cauliflower is ready to serve at future mealtimes, and you can add salt to order for adults and older children.  

Flavor Pairings

Given its natural sweetness, cauliflower pairs well with barley, black beans, chicken, pasta, and rice.

Reviewed by

J. Truppi, MS, CNS. Certified Nutrition Specialist®

V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP. Board-Certified Pediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist

K. Tatiana Maldonado, MS, CCC-SLP, CBIS, CLEC. Pediatric Feeding Therapist

K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT. Pediatric Feeding Therapist

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

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

  1. Kalisz, A., Sękara, A., Smoleń, S., Grabowska, A., Gil, J., Komorowska, M., & Kunicki, E. (2019). Survey of 17 elements, including rare earth elements, in chilled and non-chilled cauliflower cultivars. Scientific reports, 9(1), 5416. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-41946-z
  2. Nartea, A., Fanesi, B., Falcone, P. M., Pacetti, D., Frega, N. G., & Lucci, P. (2021). Impact of Mild Oven Cooking Treatments on Carotenoids and Tocopherols of Cheddar and Depurple Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea L. var. botrytis). Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 10(2), 196. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox10020196
  3. Dos Reis, L. C., de Oliveira, V. R., Hagen, M. E., Jablonski, A., Flôres, S. H., & de Oliveira Rios, A. (2015). Effect of cooking on the concentration of bioactive compounds in broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. Avenger) and cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. Alphina F1) grown in an organic system. Food chemistry, 172, 770–777. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.09.124
  4. Nartea, A., Fanesi, B., Falcone, P. M., Pacetti, D., Frega, N. G., & Lucci, P. (2021). Impact of Mild Oven Cooking Treatments on Carotenoids and Tocopherols of Cheddar and Depurple Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea L. var. botrytis). Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland)10(2), 196. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox10020196
  5. Bajwa, U., & Sandhu, K. S. (2014). Effect of handling and processing on pesticide residues in food- a review. Journal of food science and technology, 51(2), 201–220. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-011-0499-5s
  6. Hernandez, E., Quirce, S., Villalba, M., Cuesta, J., Sastre, J. (2005). Anaphylaxis caused by cauliflower. J Invest Allergol Clin Immunol. 15(2), 158-159. Retrieved April 29, 2022
  7. Scott, O., Galicia-Connolly, E., Adams, D., Surette, S., Vohra, S., et al. (2012). The safety of cruciferous plants in humans: a systematic review. Journal of biomedicine & biotechnology, 503241. DOI:10.1155/2012/503241. Retrieved April 29, 2022
  8. Blaiss, MS., McCants, ML., Lehrer, SB. (1987). Anaphylaxis to cabbage: detection of allergens. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunology, 58(4):248-50. Retrieved April 29, 2022
  9. Hermanides, H.K., Laheÿ-de Boer, A.M., Zuidmeer, L., Guikers, C., van Ree, R., et al. (2006). Brassica oleracea pollen, a new source of occupational allergens. Allergy, 61(4), 498–502. DOI:10.1111/j.1398-9995.2006.01055.x. Retrieved April 29, 2022
  10. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) and Pollen Fruit Syndrome (PFS). Retrieved April 29, 2022