Baby Led Weaning & Broccoli: Nutrients, Benefits, & Easy Baby Food Recipes
“The more you eat green, the more you get lean.” – Dr. Joel Fuhrman
Broccoli is a superfood that contains numerous vitamins and minerals that growing babies need. Each broccoli floret is rich in vitamins A, C, K, B6, and folate. It also contains iron and zinc, essential for your baby’s optimal growth and development. (1)
Broccoli is one of the best first solid foods to introduce in baby-led weaning. It’s a super nutritious food, versatile, and offers a fun texture for babies to explore. Serving broccoli is also a good way to add more greens to your baby’s first foods.
In this article, we’ll talk about ways to prepare and cook broccoli for baby-led weaning and share yummy broccoli recipes, too! We’ll also discuss all the natural goodness and health benefits of broccoli to ensure your baby gets all of its benefits early on.
BLW (baby-led weaning) is a self-feeding approach where your child feeds themselves with the healthy food choices you prepared, according to Dr. Gill Rapley, a generally acknowledged pioneer of BLW. (2)
When Can Babies Eat Broccoli?
The AAP (The American Academy of Pediatrics) states that a child can begin eating solid foods at six months old or when they start showing signs of readiness for solids. (3)
What’s more, your baby’s first solid foods can include small pieces of food like meat or other proteins, grains, cheeses, yogurts, and more. (4)
Can I Give Broccoli To My 5 Month Old Baby?
Most babies are ready for solids by four to six months of age. (5)
Just be sure to get the all-clear from your baby’s pediatrician before serving solid foods to your baby, especially before they’re six months old.
Can I Feed My 6 Month Old Baby Broccoli?
As soon as your baby is ready for solid foods, which often happens when a baby is around six months old, you can try serving them broccoli (cooked to a soft consistency) along with other nutritious baby foods.
Is Broccoli Good For An 8 Month Old Baby?
Yes. There are numerous ways to prepare broccoli according to your child’s age, and this green veggie makes a perfect finger food option for your little one once you start introducing solids.
Top Reasons To Serve Broccoli In BLW
9 Health Benefits Of Broccoli
1. It’s an antioxidant.
Broccoli florets have a high concentration of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects. (6)
2. Prevents cancer.
Regular consumption of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli reduces cancer risk due to its high levels of glucosinolates (a natural plant compound that blocks the cancer cell cycle) and flavonoids (phytonutrients that protect cells). (6)
3. It’s a natural antibiotic.
Broccoli sprouts contain sulforaphane, a potent antibiotic against the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). (7)
4. It can cleanse the intestines.
Broccoli is high in total dietary fiber, which helps maintain a healthy gut. (1) (8)
5. It’s a great source of fiber.
Fiber can also help in lowering cholesterol levels and controlling blood sugar levels. (8)
6. Keeps skin healthy
Broccoli is full of vitamins and minerals for healthy skin, including zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Broccoli also contains lutein that helps protect the skin from sun damage. (9) (10)
7. It can maintain a healthy heart.
A 2020 study published in The British Journal of Nutrition has shown that regular intake of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli may help promote heart health. (11)
8. It’s rich in calcium for strong bones. (1)
9. It can help protect your baby’s eyes.
Lutein and zeaxanthin shield the eyes from harmful UV rays and can help protect against cataracts and AMD (age-related macular degeneration). (12)
Food Safety With Broccoli
Is Broccoli A Choking Hazard?
Broccoli is not one of the most common choking hazards, especially when cooked properly. Even so, it’s still best to prepare broccoli according to your baby’s age and follow choking prevention tips.
Is Broccoli An Allergen?
Broccoli allergy usually means sensitivity to salicylates, a natural chemical found in various foods, including: (13)
Common broccoli allergy symptoms can include: (14)
- Tingling in the mouth
- Swelling of lips
- Anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms usually include loss of consciousness, a drop in blood pressure, skin rash, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, a rapid, weak pulse, nausea, and vomiting.
Food Safety Risk With Broccoli
Up until 2019, there have been multiple broccoli and broccoli-containing product recalls because of potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. This bacterium causes one of the most serious types of food poisoning called Listeriosis. (15)
Symptoms of Listeriosis can include mild, flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, diarrhea or upset stomach, and muscle aches.
These symptoms may appear up to 2 months after eating foods with Listeria. (16)
Other Safety Issues
Broccoli and other fresh produce may be contaminated with untreated manure, and other unclean conditions, including dirty water, the presence of animals, infected workers, or even during transportation.
Make sure to wash broccoli with clean, running water or soak it in water with apple cider vinegar before consumption or cooking. Consume broccoli within 3-5 days. (17)
Can Broccoli Upset A Baby’s Stomach?
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that contains FODMAPs, which can cause gas and bloating. (18)
FODMAP is short for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. These are short-chain carbohydrates that the small intestine cannot effectively digest and are then fermented by gut bacteria in the colon.
Is Broccoli Bad For Breastfed Babies?
Breastfed babies can be allergic or sensitive to the food and drinks their mothers consume, including foods that cause gas and bloating like broccoli, beans, and cauliflower. (19)
Serving Broccoli In BLW According To Your Baby’s Age
How Do You Cut Broccoli For A 6-Month-Old?
Cut a big piece of broccoli, including the stem and “head.” Steam until soft, then serve it to your baby with the head down and stem up to encourage your little one to grab the stem and eat the head.
How Do You Cut Broccoli For 7-9-Month-Olds?
At this time, your baby may be starting to develop their pincer grasp or the ability to hold something using their thumb and index finger. You can now cut a broccoli floret into smaller sizes.
How Do You Cut Broccoli For 10-12-Month-Olds?
As your baby masters their eating skills, you can try removing the stem and cutting the broccoli floret into bite-size pieces.
How To Inspire Your Kid To Eat More Broccoli
- By making it fun – Use broccoli florets to decorate your child’s plate.
- By mixing it with other veggies.
- By eating broccoli together.
- By being patient – It takes at least 15 tries to develop a taste for new food. Keep at it, mama!
- By trying different ways to prepare broccoli – You can stir-fry it or mince it and sprinkle it onto pasta with some olive oil and parmesan cheese. Roasted broccoli with some spices is also a good idea.
How To Cook Broccoli For Baby Led Weaning?
- 8 Minutes – Still firm, but the head is softer and more suitable for baby-led weaning
- 10 minutes – Broccoli stem is softer and easier for baby to gnaw, but still firm enough to hold. The broccoli head is also soft and easy to munch on.
- 20 Minutes – At 425°F or until tender when pricked with a fork.
- 8-10 Minutes – Large broccoli florets are soft but not mushy.
- 2-3 Minutes – Per side over medium heat.
3 Ways To Serve To Lessen The Bitter Taste
- Blanching or cooking broccoli in boiling water.
- Roasting and sauteing.
- Pair it with foods rich in flavors like olives and garlic.
How To Choose And Store Broccoli
- When buying broccoli, look for those with a firm head with dark green crowns and tightly-closed buds.
- When storing broccoli, wrap it first in dry paper towels to keep moisture away, then put it in an unsealed plastic bag before storing it in the fridge.
- To shorten prep time and cook time, you can buy precut broccoli florets. If you do so, trim off the stems as those can turn brown while packed at the store.
Note: Because precut produce has an increased risk of contamination, it’s a good idea to thoroughly soak broccoli in water, vinegar, and even a few drops of lemon or any citrus organic essential oil for 15-20 minutes to kill potential pathogens.
2 Super-Quick & Easy Recipes To Try With Broccoli
Here are two quick and easy gluten-free broccoli recipes to try:
2-Minute Broccoli Puree – This recipe only requires two cups of thoroughly cooked broccoli and sweet potato, two cups of heated bone broth, a tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil, a tablespoon of coconut yogurt, and ground cumin. Blend until smooth and serve warm.
Tip: Double the ingredients if you want to prepare this egg-free recipe in large batches.
Broccoli & Egg Cups – Preheat the oven to 350F. Whisk six eggs and two ounces of breast milk or formula (exclude if your baby has dairy allergies) until fluffy. Sprinkle the muffin tin with a teaspoon of coconut oil, then pour the egg mixture up to half of each section. Chop thoroughly cooked broccoli head, tomato, and bell pepper, then arrange chopped veggies into the muffin pan. Bake for 25 minutes, then cool before serving.
Other Helpful BLW Tools For Mealtime