When can babies eat parsnips?
Parsnips may be introduced as soon as your baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.
Background and origins of parsnips
Parsnips are white root vegetables that are often mistaken for carrots—but they are quite different. Starchy and sweet with a more fibrous texture, parsnips are a great first food to introduce to babies as they are super versatile. In fact, parsnips have a long history as a staple food for many cultures, including ancient Greeks and Romans who favored the vegetable for its many culinary uses.1 They can be steamed and mashed, folded into grain dishes, and even mixed into baked goods like breads and muffins.
Are parsnips healthy for babies?
Yes. Parsnips are an excellent source of copper, fiber, folate, and vitamin C in addition to a wide range of other nutrients and lots of healthy carbohydrates to fuel your baby’s body with energy. They’re a terrific vegetable to include in regular rotation in your baby’s diet as they help support the immune system, eye health, heart function, iron absorption, a healthy gut and bowel movements, and overall growth.
Are parsnips a common choking hazard for babies?
If they are raw, yes—parsnips can be a choking hazard. To minimize the risk, cook parsnips until soft before serving to your baby, and avoid cutting raw or cooked parsnips into coin-shape pieces. (Long matchsticks would be best.)
Are parsnips a common allergen?
No. That said, in theory an individual can be allergic to any food. As with introducing any new food, start by serving a small quantity on its own for the first couple of times, and if there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future servings.
How do you prepare parsnips for babies with baby-led weaning?
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience. Your child is an individual and may have needs or considerations beyond generally accepted practices. In determining the recommendations for size and shape of foods, we use the best available scientific information regarding gross, fine, and oral motor development to minimize choking risk. The preparation suggestions we offer are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for child-specific, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional or provider. It is impossible to fully eliminate all risk of a baby or child choking on any liquid, puree, or food. We advise you to follow all safety protocols we suggest to create a safe eating environment and to make educated choices for your child regarding their specific needs. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
6 to 12 months old: Offer large, long pieces of cooked parsnip cut lengthwise. At this age babies love holding large pieces of food for easy munching and it is actually safer to give young babies large pieces of food as smaller pieces could be accidentally swallowed whole. Another way of introducing parsnips: mash the cooked parsnips and mix with a little unsalted butter, olive oil, or fat of your choice.
12 to 24 months old: Use parsnips in place of any root vegetable in a recipe. You might continue offering cooked parsnip cut into matchsticks as finger food, small pieces to encourage fork practice, mashed parsnips, or parsnips folded into salads and grain dishes.
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
Parsnips have an earthy flavor and hearty texture that make the root a great substitute for meat. Try swapping parsnips in savory pies, casseroles, tacos, or any dish that call for ground meat.
Recipe: Parsnip Frittata
- Fresh herbs
- Preheat the oven to 375.
- Peel, destem, and dice two medium parsnips. Add to a pot of water and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat. Blanch until a knife can be easily inserted in the middle of a piece of parsnip, between 10 minutes. Drain.
- Whisk three eggs. Finely chop a handful of herbs of your choice and add to the egg mixture. Basil, chives, parsley, and tarragon are lovely!
- Melt a generous pad of butter in a small skillet that can go in the oven over medium heat. Add the parsnips and sauté until starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Pour the egg mixture into the pan and stir to coat the parsnips. Let the eggs and parsnips sit undisturbed in the pan for about 5 minutes. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the frittata is fully cooked through, between 10 and 20 minutes. The frittata is done when a knife inserted in the thickest part comes out clean.
- Remove the frittata from the oven and let cool. Once the frittata is at room temperature, slice into baby-friendly pieces and serve as finger food.
The sweet, earthy flavor of parsnips goes well with savory meats like bacon, beef, and pork; cheeses like goat cheese and Parmesan; and warm spices like anise, nutmeg, and paprika. Use parsnips in lieu of or alongside carrots, potatoes, turnips, and other root vegetables.