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Broccoli For Babies: Right Age, Benefits And Recipes

Broccoli For Babies: Right Age, Benefits And Recipes

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Broccoli has different varieties and comes in several colors, such as white, red, green, and purplish-green. Nutritionally, broccoli is rich in many micronutrients and phytochemicals that can benefit health over time.

The vegetable’s mild taste and crunchy texture make it a common ingredient in several healthy dishes, such as soups, stews, curries, and stir-fries. Many parents consider including this nutritious vegetable in their infant’s diet, but wonder how to do it. Is broccoli a good choice for babies?

This post tells you about when babies can eat broccoli, its possible health benefits, and some flavorful recipes to try.

When Can Babies Eat Broccoli?

According to the NHS, babies can consume broccoli from six months of age (1). You can begin feeding broccoli puree or mash to your baby and gradually blend the vegetable with other foods.

You can also make different dishes, such as broccoli soup and stew, once the baby adjusts to the broccoli’s taste and texture. Babies older than nine months can consume bite-sized thin slices of steamed or boiled broccoli florets as finger foods.

Nutritional Value Of Broccoli

Broccoli is a good source of vital micronutrients, such as vitamin K, B6, B2, B9, and C (2). 45g of raw broccoli can offer the following nutrients to support your baby’s daily nutritional needs (3).

Nutrients AmountRDA (7-12 months)
Water40.2g
Energy15.3kcal
Protein1.27g
Fiber, total dietary1.17g
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid40.1mg50mg
Vitamin B-60.079µg0.3µg
Folate, DFE28.4µg80µg
Vitamin A, RAE14µg500µg
Vitamin K (phylloquinone)45.7µg2.5µg

Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Possible Health Benefits Of Broccoli For Babies

The regular consumption of broccoli as part of a balanced diet could provide the following benefits to a baby (4).

  1. Supplies vital micronutrients: Vitamin A, E, K, B9, C, iron, calcium, selenium, magnesium, and potassium are some vital micronutrients broccoli contains in abundance (3) (5). These nutrients are essential for several physiological functions, such as regulating enzymatic reactions. These physiological functions help a baby grow and stay healthy.
  1. Aids bone health: 45g of raw broccoli offers 21.2mg calcium, 9.45mg magnesium, 29.7mg phosphorus, and 142mg potassium (3). These nutrients are necessary for healthy bone development and maintenance.
  1. Promotes gut health: Broccoli offers considerable amounts of dietary fiber that could help maintain a healthy bowel and keep constipation at bay. Besides, it contains bioactive compounds, such as glucosinolates, that benefit the gut microbiota, promoting gut health in the long term (6). Maintaining gut health from an early age is vital to support proper digestion and optimum absorption of nutrients.
  1. Supports immunity: Research notes that broccoli exhibits anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and cardioprotective properties. Several nutrients, such as selenium and vitamin C, and phytochemicals, such as isothiocyanates, sulforaphane may confer these benefits by boosting immunity over time (7) (8) (9) (10).
  1. Supports skin health: Vitamin C helps the body to produce collagen, which supports body cells, organs, and the skin.

How To Select And Store Broccoli?

You can buy broccoli from stores or the local farmer’s market.  You could consider the following steps to select and store broccoli properly.

Tips for selecting broccoli:

  • Pick fresh broccoli with bright green or purplish-green heads. Avoid broccoli with yellow florets, wilted leaves, and rubbery, brown, or dried out stems. These are the signs that the broccoli is stale.
  • Select fresh produce with a firm head, tightly closed florets, small and firm stalks, and crisp leaves.
  • The broccoli should feel heavy for its size. The cut ends of the stalks should be fresh and moist-looking.

Tips for storing broccoli:

  • Store fresh broccoli unwashed in a loose or perforated plastic bag in the fridge’s crisper shelf or drawer. It will stay fresh for three to five days. Rinsing broccoli before storing can cause it to get stale quickly.
  • You can freeze fresh broccoli in plastic bags or airtight glass containers for 12 to 18 months after blanching. Blanching preserves the bright green color and tasty flavor. To blanch broccoli, cook broccoli in water for two to three minutes and then immediately dip it in ice-cold water.

Broccoli tastes good and offers optimum nutrition when eaten fresh or stored for a brief period.

Precautions To Take While Feeding Broccoli To Babies

The following precautions could make broccoli-eating a safe experience for your baby.

  1. Introduce boiled or steamed broccoli puree or mash to your baby. Remove the stalk and use only the florets to prepare the puree or mash. Gradually shift to feeding baked, grilled, and roasted broccoli.
  1. Initially, feed a teaspoon or two of broccoli puree or mash in a meal and gradually increase the intake to a tablespoon and then to two. You may serve it alone or as a part of a dish.
  1. Broccoli can cause flatulence and gas in some babies. If the baby looks uncomfortable after ingesting broccoli, discontinue feeding, and try feeding small quantities later. If the problem persists, consult a pediatrician.
  1. Broccoli allergy is rare but possible. Its symptoms may arise immediately after eating broccoli (11). Skin rash (hives), mouth-tingling, itching, wheezing, vomiting, and diarrhea are some common symptoms of food allergy.
  1. Broccoli shows cross-reactivity with the Brassicaceae family members, such as cabbage, mustard, radish, and turnip. It also exhibits pollen-fruit allergy syndrome (or oral allergy syndrome) due to cross-reactivity with tree pollens, such as mugwort and birch pollen (12). If the baby has a family history of food allergies, then consult a doctor before introducing broccoli.
  1. For older babies and toddlers, serve thinly sliced or bite-sized, small pieces of well-cooked broccoli finger foods to prevent choking. Mash the stalk with a spoon before serving until the baby seems capable of biting it.
  1. As your toddler grows, serve them steamed, boiled, and stir-fried broccoli. Research says, steaming, boiling, and stir-frying are the best cooking methods to cook broccoli and conserve its nutrients (13).

Healthy And Tasty Broccoli Recipes For Babies

1. Broccoli puree (6 months+)

Broccoli puree (6 months+)

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • ½ cup broccoli (stalk removed)
  • 1tbsp breast milk or formula

How to prepare:

  1. Boil water in a saucepan over a medium flame. Place chopped broccoli florets in it. Cook for about eight minutes until the broccoli turns tender. For a smoother puree use only the florets. Alternatively you can also steam it until soft.
  2. Drain the water and blend the broccoli into a mash using a blender. Ensure no lumps are present.
  3. Add a tablespoon of breast milk or formula to make the mixture smooth. Set aside for ten minutes to cool and feed.
  4. Freeze any leftovers in clean, BPA-free plastic boxes or ice trays.

2. Broccoli soup (7 months+)

Broccoli soup (7 months+)

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 8-10 broccoli florets
  • 1 small potato (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2tbsp onion (finely chopped)
  • 1tbsp ghee or clarified butter
  • 1tbsp plain Greek yogurt
  • Salt and black pepper powder, to taste

How to prepare:

  1. Heat ghee in a saucepan over a medium flame.
  2. As the ghee begins bubbling, add onions and garlic and saute until the onion turns translucent.
  3. Add potato and broccoli and cook until the broccoli and potato turn tender. Add a tablespoon of water if the potato sticks to the saucepan.
  4. Once broccoli and potato look tender, blend them into a smooth paste using an immersion blender. Set aside for ten minutes to cool.
  5. Add yogurt, salt, and pepper. Blend again and ensure no lumps are present. Feed the baby while the soup is still warm. Take care to strain it before serving.

3. Broccoli rice (8 months+)

Broccoli rice (8 months+)

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 1 cup plain rice (cooked)
  • ½ cup broccoli florets (finely shredded)
  • 2 scallions (diced)
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 2tbsp fresh cilantro (chopped)
  • 1tsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper powder
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

How to prepare:

  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over a medium-low flame.
  2. Add cumin seeds, broccoli shreds, chopped scallions, garlic, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Cook the mixture for five to eight minutes until broccoli shreds and scallions wilt.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in lemon juice.
  4. Pour in cooked rice and mix well until the rice coats evenly with the mixture.
  5. Transfer some rice to the feeding bowl and feed the baby. You can add more veggies and cheese to this dish to add flavor, texture, and nutrients.

4. Broccoli frittata (9 months+)

Broccoli frittata (9 months+)

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 50g zucchini (finely chopped)
  • 40g broccoli (finely chopped)
  • 15g cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1tbsp plain flour
  • 1tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1tsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp Italian herbs mix

How to prepare:

  1. Preheat the oven to 356°F (180°C). Grease a baking tin with some oil and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped zucchini and broccoli and fry for four to five minutes or until the veggies turn soft.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, add eggs, cheese, flour, sesame seeds, and herbs mix. Mix the ingredients well.
  4. Add the cooked vegetables to the egg mixture and mix well until everything is well combined.
  5. Pour this mixture into the greased tin and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside on a wire rack to cool.
  6. Cut into small square pieces and let your baby enjoy this healthy finger food.

5. Broccoli smoothie (12 months+)

Broccoli smoothie (12 months+)

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 1 frozen banana (chopped)
  • 1 frozen mango (chopped)
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • ½ cup frozen broccoli chunks
  • ½ cup frozen strawberries
  • ¾ cup water

How to prepare:

  1. Blend all the ingredients into a smooth-flowing fluid. Ensure no lumps are present.
  2. Pour the smoothie into a serving cup and feed.
  3. You can add a handful of powdered nuts and some seeds like flax to make this recipe healthier.

Broccoli is a nutritious vegetable that babies can consume from the start of their weaning journey. Broccoli puree, mash, stew, curry, and soups are some recipes that you can feed in small amounts to your baby across meals. Broccoli consumption offers long-term health benefits and helps your baby adapt to more food flavors and textures.

References:

MomJunction's health articles are written after analyzing various scientific reports and assertions from expert authors and institutions. Our references (citations) consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.