Broccoli For Babies: Health Benefits, Food Ideas And Nutrition
Broccoli is a superfood which contains vital vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and antioxidants. Read on to find out how you can introduce this nutritious vegetable in your baby's diet.
By Shirley Johanna
For the first 6 months of life, infants are exclusively breastfed. After 6 months, weaning foods are introduced to meet their nutritional needs. Introducing solid food to babies is called complementary feeding or weaning. Usually, weaning begins with introducing puréed fruits and vegetables (without salt or sugar) in a child’s diet, one at a time. While weaning, it is advisable to wait between three and five days before introducing a new solid food.
For weaning, one of the many vegetables you can choose is broccoli for babies. Broccoli can be introduced in your child’s diet once he is 8 months old.
This cruciferous vegetable is loaded with vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. It is packed with vital nutrients like beta-carotene, lutein zeaxanthin, thiamine, riboflavin, Vitamins A, C, E and K, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and phosphorus. So, including broccoli in your child's diet can ensure his proper growth and development.
Unfortunately, not many children like broccoli because of its bland taste. But, you can get your child used to broccoli by introducing it during weaning and by adding broccoli to different combinations of vegetables to add variety.
Here we have listed some benefits of broccoli, its nutritional value and some broccoli baby food combination ideas.
Health benefits of broccoli for babies
- Improves vision: Broccoli contains beta-carotene, which is a type of vitamin A. This vitamin plays a critical role in improving vision and maintaining eye health. Other nutrients found in broccoli like zeaxanthin, phosphorus, Vitamin B complex and E are good for eye health as they repair the damage caused by radiation.
- Boosts bone and teeth health: Broccoli is a good source of calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin K, which are essential for healthy bone development. Vitamin K, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and calcium found in broccoli help maintain strong teeth. Vitamin K is essential for the formation of osteocalcin, which helps improve bone mineral density and reduces the risk of fracture. You would be surprised to know that a cup of broccoli provides 101.6mcg of Vitamin K.
- Prevents anaemia: Iron and folic acid are two key vital nutrients that help prevent anaemia. Broccoli is a good source of both iron and folic acid. Vitamin C in broccoli also helps in the absorption of iron, thus preventing anaemia.
- Reduces inflammation: Bioactive compounds in broccoli help reduce inflammation. Kaempferol is a flavonoid found in broccoli that demonstrates anti-inflammatory properties.
- Builds immunity: A strong immune system supports the overall health of the baby by building resistance to illnesses. Broccoli is a good source of Vitamin C, which helps improve immunity and protects the child from infections. A cup of broccoli provides the same amount of Vitamin C as an orange.
- Supports healthy brain development: Broccoli is rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid. ALA is crucial for brain growth and development in infants. Omega-3 fatty acid helps improve attention and decreases hyperactivity, impulsiveness, restlessness and aggression in children who exhibit attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Nutritional value of broccoli (100g)
- Calories 34 kcal
- Fat 0.37g
- Carbohydrate 6.6g
- Protein 2.8g
- Dietary fibre 2.6g
- Vitamin A 623IU
- Vitamin C 89.2mg
- Vitamin K 101.6mcg
- Vitamin B6 0.18g
- Folate 63mcg
- Calcium 47mg
- Iron 0.73mg
- Magnesium 21 mg
- Phosphorus 66mg
- Potassium 316mg
- Sodium 33mg
- Zinc 0.41mg
Data based on USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) - National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
Broccoli baby food ideas
Broccoli can be introduced in your child's diet either alone or in combination with a variety of vegetables. The best broccoli baby food for weaning is broccoli purée. Here are some other interesting broccoli baby food ideas that you can try.
Broccoli for infants (7 – 11 months)
- Broccoli purée
- Broccoli soup
- Broccoli and carrot soup
- Avocado-creamed broccoli
- Broccoli, spinach and cauliflower purée
- Broccoli potato purée
- Broccoli and carrot purée
- Broccoli garlic purée
- Sweet potato and broccoli purée
- Broccoli and peas purée
- Broccoli and potato mash
- Broccoli and cauliflower purée
- Sweet potato and broccoli purée
- Broccoli and summer squash purée
Broccoli for toddlers (1-year-old)
- Broccoli, spinach omelette
- Roasted broccoli with ginger
- Broccoli dosa
- Broccoli poha
- Popcorn broccoli
- Grilled broccoli
- Tomato and broccoli soup
- Potato and broccoli soup
- Broccoli and cauliflower bites
- Baked broccoli bites
- Broccoli and spinach soup
- Steamed broccoli
- Broccoli cheddar soup
Broccoli for toddlers (2-year-old)
- Savoury broccoli pancakes
- Broccoli pakora
- Broccoli cakes
- Broccoli muffin
- Broccoli walnut pasta
- Broccoli stir fry
- Broccoli slaw with raisins
- Broccoli cornbread
- Broccoli casserole
- Broccoli chicken casserole
- Roasted broccoli and tofu salad
- Broccoli mac and cheese
- Cheesy broccoli bites
- Broccoli and cheese quiche
- Broccoli bread
- Broccoli and cauliflower sauté
- Broccoli rice
- Broccoli cutlet
- Broccoli-quinoa salad
- Grilled mustard broccoli
- Broccoli and cheddar cheese nuggets
- Broccoli cheddar quinoa bars
- Broccoli and paneer tikki
- Roasted broccoli and potato dip
- Creamy broccoli and apple slaw
A word of caution
Although broccoli offers a wide array of nutritional benefits, one downside of this vegetable is that it can cause bloating and indigestion. Thus, it is always best to give broccoli in moderation.
How to select and store broccoli
When you select broccoli, check the florets. They should be of a rich, dark green colour. If the florets are yellow, the broccoli isn't fresh and has poor nutritive value. While storing broccoli, keep the vegetable in an open plastic bag in the refrigerator. This helps preserve broccoli's vitamin C content. Also, do not wash broccoli before storing, as it will reduce the shelf-life of the vegetable.
Broccoli is one of the most nutritious vegetables packed with vital vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. So, introduce this superfood in your baby's diet for his overall well-being.
About the expert:
Reviewed by Ryan Fernando on 9 October 2019
Ryan Fernando is an award-winning celebrity sports nutrition coach who is also the co-founder & CEO of India's largest chain of nutrition clinics.
About the author:
Written by Shirley Johanna on 20 September 2019; updated on 15 October 2019
The author is a nutritionist, aspiring teacher and a researcher who currently works as a copy editor at ParentCircle. She loves formulating nutritious recipes that can treat common nutritional deficiencies in children and adolescents.
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