Having just the right texture for your little one is important. Too crunchy and they will struggle to “gum” it. Too soft and it will disintegrate in their little hand. So just how should you cook broccoli for baby-led weaning?

Cut the broccoli into florets, with enough of the stem for your baby to use as a “handle”. If steaming the broccoli, steam for 6-7 minutes over boiling water, until soft but not mushy. Alternatively, drizzle olive oil over the broccoli and roast it at 425F for 20 minutes. 


What size should I cut broccoli for my baby to eat as a finger food?

As your baby grows and develops, so do their fine motor skills mature. How small you cut the broccoli will depend on your baby’s fine motor skill development. 


6 month old

Broccoli_with_varying_stemsIf you are introducing broccoli to a baby who has started sitting and is just beginning to explore the world of foods, they will need a bigger broccoli floret that they can hold with their entire hand. So, be sure to cut a bigger piece of broccoli (one stem and the “head”).

Serving the broccoli with the “head” down and the stem up will encourage your baby to grasp the broccoli by the stem and eat the top of the broccoli.


10-12 months

Small_pieces_of_broccoliBy 10-12 months your baby has started to master the art of grasping objects with their index finger and thumb, otherwise known as a pincer grasp.

This means that your little one can start experimenting with smaller foods. You may want to consider removing the stem and cutting the floret into smaller pieces. Having a mix of stems-on and stem-off will help give a variety of ways to explore and experiment. 


12-24 months

By this age your baby’s fine motor skills are well developed enough to manage most foods that they are presented with. Now you can start exploring with the amount of time the broccoli is cooked for. As teeth breakthrough, your little one will manage to chew firmer broccoli florets.

Whatever way you serve the broccoli, make sure that your little is able to eat it, as there is nothing more frustrating than being hungry and not being able to actually eat the food that is in front of you.

How long should I steam broccoli for my baby?

The softer and mushier the broccoli stem is, the harder it is going to be for your baby to grasp as it will probably just disintegrate in their palm.

Having said that, undercooked broccoli is going to be easier to hold but more difficult to eat with those gums. So, it is important to get the balance just right.

While I was making dinner for my family tonight, I did a little experiment, steaming broccoli for various lengths of time.

Steaming Time


broccoli steamed for 6 miniutes 6 minutes Broccoli still very firm and undercooked
broccoli floret steamed for 8 minutes 8 minutes Broccoli still firm but the head is softer and more suited for baby led weaning
broccoli steamed for 10 minutes 10 minutes Broccoli stem softer and easier for baby to gum but still firm enough for grasping. Head soft and easy for baby.  


So, going by this experiment, it seems that steaming broccoli for 10 minutes is ideal for ensuring just the right balance between firmness and ease of eating for your little one. Be careful of overcooking broccoli as it will lose some of it’s nutritional value.

Once the broccoli has finished steaming, run it under cold cold water. This will stop the broccoli from cooking and will help to cool it down for your little one.


How do you roast broccoli for baby-led weaning?

Roasted broccoli on baking sheetYou can roast broccoli as an alternative to steaming it. You do need to keep an eye on it as broccoli can burn quickly when roasting, making it very bitter and unappetizing for your baby.

It is easy to roast. Just sprinkle olive oil over a cup of broccoli florets and pop it in the oven at 425F for 20 minutes. Make sure that you turn the broccoli halfway through to prevent it from being burnt.


Can I boil broccoli for my baby?

You might not have the time to roast broccoli or a steamer to steam broccoli and you may be wondering if you could boil broccoli for your baby.

Boiling broccoli is not often recommended for babies. The boiling process causes the minerals and vitamins from the broccoli to leach into the boiling water and it doesn’t hold as high a nutritional value as either steamed or roasted broccoli.


Why should I offer my baby broccoli?

Broccoli has a lot of amazing benefits for adults and babies alike. If it is something that you and your partner or your family eat on a regular basis, it is definitely something that you should introduce to your baby early on in the baby-led weaning journey.

Apart from the fact that it is helpful for baby to eat what you, as a family eats, broccoli has numerous health benefits.

Broccoli is packed with vitamins and minerals, including:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Fibre 
  • Folate
  • And a lot more

Vitamin C found in broccoli also helps with the absorption of Calcium and iron, 2 minerals that are essential to your baby’s growth and development.

You can also explore and experiment with all of the different types of broccoli including purple broccoli, tenderstem (with a long stem for your baby to get a better grasp of), broccolini, etc.


Can Broccoli cause Gas in my Baby?

baby eating broccoliNow that you know how to prepare broccoli for your little one, you may have some other questions about your baby’s ability to cope with broccoli from a digestive point of view. If you have had a colicky baby, you may be nervous about introducing a gas-inducing vegetable like broccoli.

However, as your colicky baby has grown and increased in mobility, they are more able to deal with trapped gas in the digestive system and it is less likely to cause discomfort.

Also, when you first start with baby-led weaning, your baby will not be eating as much as a spoon-fed baby and this will actually help your baby’s digestive system learn to cope with any digestive issues associated with broccoli.


What if my baby-led weaning baby doesn’t like broccoli? 

Okay, so you have gone through all of this effort to get your broccoli just right for your little one and you present it to them with great anticipation.

And your little one just pushes it around, eats everything else BUT the broccoli, or even throws it on the floor (weaning is a messy business!)

Well, the rule of all weaning, whether you are taking a more traditional pureed approach or baby-led weaning, is that you offer your baby foods a number of times before deciding that baby doesn’t like it.

So, keep offering broccoli, experimenting with how long it is cooked for, or how big the pieces are. You may be surprised when broccoli becomes a favourite for your little one.


Summing it Up

Broccoli is a wonderful source of nutrition for your little one and can be made to suit your baby’s fine motor skills and tastes. 


I’m Tarryn Poulton, a former pediatric Occupational Therapist, qualified nutrition coach and mom to 2 kids. I did baby-led weaning with both of my children and I loved the experience and aim to share my knowledge with the rest of the world.

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