When can babies eat turnips?
Turnips (and turnip greens) may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months old.
Where do turnips come from?
Turnip’s bulbous roots and peppery greens have nourished humans since ancient times, when people in Central Asia learned to cultivate the wild plant. Over time, human migration and trade led to the development of related vegetables like bok choy, broccoli rabe, napa cabbage, rutabaga, and many more whose cultural significance is as diverse as the plant family. The roots appear in European heraldry. The greens offer simple nourishment during Nanakusa no Sekku (Festival of Seven Herbs) in Japan. And in African American foodways, turnips are a key ingredient in soul food recipes shared over generations.
Are turnips healthy for babies?
Yes. Turnip root is a good source of fiber to support gut health, plant-based omega-3 fatty acids to support the brain, and B vitamins, especially vitamin B6, which perform hundreds of functions in the body. Turnip root contains special compounds called glucosinolates, which offer a host of benefits to the human body, including anti-cancerous properties.1 2 Purple turnip varieties offer the benefit of extra antioxidants.3
While the root is more commonly eaten than turnip greens, the greens are packed with nutrition, including vitamin A, which is critical for eye, skin, and immune health, and folate, an essential nutrient for DNA and protein function. The greens are also good sources of fiber, B vitamins, vitamin E, zinc, calcium, and plenty of phytonutrients that support baby’s overall health.
★Tip: When shopping for turnips, buy both the root and greens, when possible. Use the greens first, as they will wilt within a few days. Roots save in the fridge or a cool, dark place for much longer.
Can turnips help babies poop?
Yes. Turnip offers good amounts of both soluble and insoluble fibers, as well as some glucosinolates and phenolic compounds.4 5 6 7 Together, these components contribute to overall digestive health and bowel regularity. Raffinose, a natural sugar and possible prebiotic found in turnips, may cause gas in some individuals, so consider offering smaller quantities of turnip initially and gradually increasing portions over time. Note that pooping patterns can vary significantly from child to child. Be sure to talk to your pediatric healthcare provider if you have concerns about baby’s pooping and digestive function.
Are turnips a common choking hazard for babies?
Yes, raw or undercooked turnip’s firm texture does pose a choking risk, as it is difficult to chew and break down. To reduce the risk, cook turnip root until soft and mince or finely chop cooked turnip greens. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of your 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 turnip a common allergen?
No. Allergies to turnips are uncommon, but have been reported.8 Information on turnip allergies is limited, however turnips are part of the cruciferous vegetable family and individuals who are allergic or sensitive to other members of the cruciferous family, such as mustard greens and broccoli, could theoretically be sensitive to turnips as well.9 10 Turnip allergy may also be more common in individuals who have an existing latex allergy.11
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 turnips 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 8 months: Offer large wedges of turnip that have been cooked until soft for baby to grab and munch on. Alternatively, serve mashed turnip that baby can scoop with hands. Mashed turnip also works well as a base for iron-rich grains, legumes, and seeds that are hard for baby to scoop up, like amaranth, lentils, and quinoa. The mashed turnip acts as a binder for these foods, making it easier for baby self-feed while minimizing the mess. Turnip leaves are edible, too—if you’d like to serve them, finely chop the cooked greens and stir them into the mashed root or another soft, scoopable food like yogurt.
9 to 11 months old: Serve cooked, soft turnip that has been cut into bite-sized pieces (about the size of a large adult knuckle). If you’d like to continue to offer large wedges, by all means do so. Larger pieces will provide baby with the opportunity to practice taking accurate sized bites.
12 to 24 months old: Continue to offer cooked, bite-sized pieces of turnip, either on their own or as part of a dish. You can also continue to serve large, cooked wedges or use the mashed cooked root in bean patties, dumplings, fritters, meatballs, and pancakes. Once a toddler shows the ability to bite and tear with the teeth and/or gums, you can serve raw turnip root grated or cut into paper-thin slices.
Babies love variety just like adults do. Get more dinner ideas from our guide, 100 Dinners for Babies & Toddlers.
What are recipe ideas for turnip?
To preserve turnip’s nutrients, steam or sauté the root instead of boiling or blanching.12 From there, you can mash the root with butter or cream for baby, then add maple syrup or miso before serving adults and older children. Alternatively, cut the root into wedges to make turnip fries then roast them in olive oil and your family’s favorite spices. Stew turnip with meats like beef, lamb, or pork to let the vegetable soak up their hearty flavor. Don’t toss the greens—they taste delicious braised with bacon, chopped up with herbs to make turnip top salsa verde, or sauteed in oil and topped with an egg. Want to keep it simple? Try pairing apples and turnips: the sweetness of the fruit balances any earthy bitterness in the root.
Recipe: Glazed Apples and Turnips
Yield: 4 cups (1 liter)
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Age: 6 months+
- 1 pound (454 grams) turnips
- 2 apples
- 1 ½ cups (360 milliliters) apple juice (no added sugar)
- 2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter (optional)
- 1 sprig fresh sage (optional)
- salt to taste for adults and older children (optional: 12 months+)
This recipe contains a common allergen: dairy (butter). Only serve to a child after this allergen has been safely introduced.
- Remove the turnip greens and set aside for another use, like braised greens.
- Wash the apple and turnip roots to remove grit and minimize exposure to pesticide residue.
- Peel and core the apple, then cut the fruit into quarters. Set aside.
- If the turnips are large, peel the skin. If the turnips are small, there is no need to peel the skin, but you may remove it if you like. Cut small turnips into halves and large turnips into wedges.
- Place the apple and turnip in a non-stick skillet in an even layer, then pour in the apple juice.
- Add butter and sage if you like. This step is completely optional, though the glazed apples and turnips can taste bland and benefit from seasonings in the stewing liquid.
- Cover and bring the skillet to a boil, then lower the heat to create a steady simmer. Steam the apple and turnip until a knife easily inserts into the thickest part of a piece, about 10 minutes.
- Set aside some apple quarters and turnip for baby. Exact serving size varies. Let the child decide how much to eat.
- Serve the apple and turnip as finger food and let baby self-feed. If you’d like to encourage baby to use utensils, pre-load a utensil and place it next to the food for the child to pick up. Alternatively, pass a pre-loaded utensil or a wedge in the air for the child to grab.
To Store: Glazed Apples and Turnips keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days or in the freezer for 2 months.
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
- Nor, N., Lignou, S., Bell, L., Houston-Price, C., Harvey, K., & Methven, L. (2020). The Relationship between Glucosinolates and the Sensory Characteristics of Steamed-Pureed Turnip (Brassica Rapa subsp. Rapa L.). Foods (Basel, Switzerland), 9(11), 1719. DOI: 10.3390/foods9111719. Retrieved May 11, 2022
- Mohd Nor, N. D., Houston-Price, C., Harvey, K., & Methven, L. (2021). The effects of taste sensitivity and repeated taste exposure on children’s intake and liking of turnip (Brassica rapa subsp. rapa); a bitter Brassica vegetable. Appetite, 157, 104991. DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2020.104991. Retrieved May 11, 2022
- Guo, N., Cheng, F., Wu, J., Liu, B., Zheng, S., Liang, J., & Wang, X. (2014). Anthocyanin biosynthetic genes in Brassica rapa. BMC genomics, 15(1), 426. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2164-15-426. Retrieved May 11, 2022
- Paul S, Geng CA, Yang TH, Yang YP, Chen JJ. Phytochemical and Health-Beneficial Progress of Turnip (Brassica rapa). J Food Sci. 2019; 84(1):19–30. Epub 2018/12/19. DOI: 10.1111/1750- 3841.14417. Retrieved May 11, 2022
- Cao Q, Wang G, Peng Y. A Critical Review on Phytochemical Profile and Biological Effects of Turnip (Brassica rapa L.). Front Nutr. 2021;8:721733. Published 2021 Jul 29. doi:10.3389/fnut.2021.721733. Retrieved May 11, 2022
- Sikorska-Zimny, K., & Beneduce, L. (2021). The Metabolism of Glucosinolates by Gut Microbiota. Nutrients, 13(8), 2750. DOI: 10.3390/nu13082750. Retrieved January 18, 2022.
- Tanaka S, Yamamoto K, Hamajima C, et al. (2017). Changes in Gut Microbial Ecology and Immunological Responses of Mice Fed the Insoluble Fraction of Brassica rapa L. that was Fermented or Not. Microbes Environ. 32(3):268-274. DOI:10.1264/jsme2.ME17059. Retrieved January 18, 2022
- Poikonen, S., Puumalainen, T. J., Kautiainen, H., Burri, P., Palosuo, T., Reunala, T., & Turjanmaa, K. (2006). Turnip rape and oilseed rape are new potential food allergens in children with atopic dermatitis. Allergy, 61(1), 124–127. DOI: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2005.00929.x. Retrieved May 11, 2022
- Blaiss, MS., McCants, ML., Lehrer, SB. (1987). Anaphylaxis to cabbage: detection of allergens. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunology, 58(4):248-50. Retrieved April 2, 2022
- 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 January 8, 2022
- Pereira C, Tavares B, Loureiro G, Lundberg M, Chieira C. Turnip and zucchini: new foods in the latex-fruit syndrome. Allergy. 2007 Apr;62(4):452-3. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2006.01313.x. Retrieved May 11, 2022
- Nor, N., Lignou, S., Bell, L., Houston-Price, C., Harvey, K., & Methven, L. (2020). The Relationship between Glucosinolates and the Sensory Characteristics of Steamed-Pureed Turnip (Brassica Rapa subsp. Rapa L.). Foods (Basel, Switzerland), 9(11), 1719. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9111719