Broccoli is the perfect first food for BLW. It's rich in nutrients, fiber and antioxidants making it a great choice for your baby. Its bitter taste will help your baby get used to different tastes, and its texture is sort of fun for him. So follow up to learn more about how to prepare the broccoli for your little one, how to serve it, store it and more.
One of the first vegetables many parents choose to introduce to their babies, whether they follow the Baby-Led Weaning method or purées, is broccoli. This cruciferous vegetable is renowned as a superfood, packed with essential nutrients, and its slightly bitter flavor serves as a valuable way to introduce babies to a variety of tastes.
Since baby formula and breastmilk often have a naturally sweet taste, it's beneficial to introduce mild and slightly bitter vegetables to your baby when you begin introducing solid foods. This can help prevent them from developing a dislike for these flavors as they grow.
👩🏻🍳 Why We Love Broccoli For BLW
Broccoli is a great vegetable for your baby to try during those first weeks of starting solids. I think it's actually the first vegetable I offered to both of my kids when we started solids.
It's not sweet, it's very healthy, easy to hold and has a lot of texture that makes it interesting to your baby's little palette.
It's full of antioxidants and nutrients, including fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and potassium, making it a great option for babies, older kids and adults. An excellent, healthy green vegetable to have as a side to your main.
(Nutrients source from USDA)
⏲️ When Can Babies Eat Broccoli
You can offer broccoli to your baby from the start of his solids journey around 6 months. For the first couple of months, when your baby is still mastering his pincer grasp, he will be using his whole fist to hold fruits and vegetables.
Broccoli florets with their stem are great as they are easy to hold while your baby munches the top bit of the broccoli. So, for the first couple of months, between 6-8 months, you should offer them with a long enough stem to hold. After that, you could offer broccoli in smaller pieces, with or without the stem.
🛒 Shopping & Storage Guide
When choosing broccoli from your local store or farmer's market, pick one with a vibrant green color (or purple in some varieties) and avoid yellow spots on the florets. It's not that it isn't edible anymore, but the chlorophyll has started to break down and the broccoli is losing its nutrients. So for fresh broccoli, remember you want a bright green color and a firm stem.
If you don't plan to cook the broccoli immediately when going back home, it's best to store it in the fridge. Place it unwashed in a bag and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days before cooking it.
To prepare the broccoli, I first cut off all the florets off the main stem using my hands or a small knife. It's very easy to snap them and remove them off the main stem. Then I give them a good wash to remove any dirt and bugs.
If you get your vegetables from a market or if they are organic, you might often find little green caterpillars in them. A great way my mom taught me to get rid of them, is to put the broccoli florets in a big bowl with cold water and some vinegar. Then any little bugs will start floating and you can easily remove them with a spoon or your fingers.
🔪 Cooking Instructions
The simplest and easiest way to prepare the broccoli for BLW is to either boil or steam the florets. When you first introduce a vegetable to your baby, it's best if you offer it in its purest form to help your baby connect the way the veggie looks, with how it tastes and its texture when he puts it in his mouth. Later on, you can start incorporating it into other recipes like sauces, patties, fritters and many more.
Steaming The Broccoli
Steaming the broccoli florets is the best way to keep most of its nutrients. The broccoli should be soft enough to gnaw but not too soft to get mushy when you squeeze it between your fingers.
Your baby should be able to hold it by the stem without breaking it but at the same time soft enough to bite it and chew it.
Boiling The Broccoli
To boil the broccoli florets, I simply add lots of water to a pot and bring it to a boil. I add the broccoli in and in about 5-7 minutes it's ready. Again, it needs to be fork-tender and soft enough to gnaw for your little one to enjoy. Also, make sure it's cooled down completely before you offer it to your little one, as you don't want him to burn his little fingers.
🍽 Serving Suggestions
As I said, broccoli is one of my favorite first foods for BLW, but is also a side that we all enjoy with our main. For some extra flavor, since I'm not adding any salt when I prepare it, I like to drizzle the broccoli with some olive oil and lemon juice. The vitamin C from the lemon helps to absorb the iron and the olive oil is full of goodness and antioxidants.
So if you have a picky eater and you are having trouble convincing him to eat his broccoli, try to add some olive oil and lemon juice to boost its flavor and cover some of its bitterness. Don't forget that babies need to try new food at least 15 times to decide if they like it or not, so don't give up easily!
For a balanced meal, make sure you add some protein with the broccoli like some chicken strips. For a baby that just started solids, a floret of broccoli and some chicken should be enough as they are still exploring new foods and tastes. Check my detailed Baby-led Weaning post for more information on quantities and how to start.
If you have any leftover broccoli, you should store it in the fridge. The broccoli will soak in the olive oil and lemon juice and will taste even better the next day. You can keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Babies can have broccoli from 6 months old, whether you follow the Baby-Led weaning method or traditional purées. It's full of nutrients, fiber and antioxidants, making it a great choice for babies, older children and adults.
Place the broccoli in a steaming basket or pot and cook for about 5-7 minutes until it's soft enough for your baby to handle and chew safely. Before offering it to your baby, allow the broccoli to cool down completely.
Broccoli is not considered a high-allergy food for babies. In fact, it is generally regarded as a low-allergy food and is safe to introduce to most babies when they start solids, usually around six months of age. Every baby is different though, so if you notice any sensitivity, you should consult your pediatrician or healthcare professional.
Make sure you wash the broccoli thoroughly to remove any bugs and caterpillars. Then, pull the florets with your hands or a small knife, leaving some stem for younger babies, so it's easier to hold with their little hands. For older babies and kids, you could cut them into smaller bits.
Due to its fiber content and the presence of certain sugars, broccoli can cause gas in babies and adults. Cooking broccoli until it's soft and well-cooked can make it easier to digest and reduce the likelihood of gas. If you do however notice any excessive gas or discomfort, it's better to reduce the amount of broccoli you offer to your baby and consult with your pediatrician or healthcare professional.
How To Introduce Broccoli for Baby-Led Weaning
- 4 cups broccoli florets
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lemon
- Add water to a pot (about 2in or 5cm) and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli florets to a steamer basket and place in the pot.
- Cook for 5-7 minutes or until fork-tender and soft but not mushy.
- Drizzle with the olive oil and lemon juice before serving.
- Add water to a big pot and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli florets in.
- Cook for 5-7 minutes or until fork-tender and soft but not mushy. Remove the broccoli using a collander or slotted spoon and place in a bowl.
- Drizzle with the olive oil and lemon juice before serving.
- Steaming the broccoli helps to preserve most of its nutrients and goodness.
- Serving the broccoli with lemon juice that contains vitamin C, helps to absorb its vitamins.