Can Babies Have Eggnog?

a small glass filled with creamy yellow eggnog with a cinnamon stick on a white background

Eggnog, coquito, and other beloved milk punches of the world have been enjoyed at celebrations for centuries. Naturally, this time-honored tradition is one that many caregivers look forward to sharing with children. But eggnog doesn’t quite fit the bill for a baby-friendly drink thanks to its raw eggs, high sugar content, and optional alcohol. So how about for toddlers? Let’s dig in.

Bennett, 13 months, tastes eggnog for the first time.
Oliver, 14 months, enjoys a taste of eggnog.
Cooper, 19 months, drinks egg nog.

When can babies have eggnog?

After 12 months of age, if the eggnog is pasteurized and free of alcohol. While we generally recommend waiting until age 2 to introduce sugar into a toddler’s diet, a small taste of pasteurized, alcohol-free eggnog on a special occasion after a child’s first birthday is just fine. Babies under 12 months of age should not be given eggnog, or any drink other than breast/human milk, formula, or small amounts of water. For more on when babies can have cow’s milk, see our Milk FAQs.

What ingredients are in eggnog?

Eggnog recipes typically feature whole milk, heavy cream, raw eggs, sugar, spices (such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves), vanilla extract, and hard liquor (like brandy, rum, or bourbon).

Can babies have store-bought eggnog?

If the child is 12 months of age or older, and if the eggnog is pasteurized and alcohol-free, yes.  Before purchasing, just look at the ingredients list to make sure both the eggs and milk used are pasteurized and that there are no alcoholic ingredients (rum, etc.) Vanilla extract is fine.

Are nutmeg and other spices like cinnamon and cloves safe for babies?

Yes. While you may have heard that nutmeg can be harmful, nutmeg is recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, when used in small amounts for culinary purposes.1 2 When it comes to eggnog, the amounts of nutmeg and other spices used are generally small and safe for young children. Just remember that babies under 12 months of age should not have any drink other than breast/human milk, formula, or small amounts of water.

Can babies or toddlers have eggnog made with raw milk?

No. Raw milk is not safe for babies or toddlers. Raw milk can contain harmful bacteria and contaminants that can lead to foodborne illnesses, which can be severe or even fatal.3 Pasteurized milk and milk products, on the other hand, have been heated to high temperatures to kill off unfriendly germs, making the milk or milk product safe for consumption.4 5

Is homemade eggnog safe for babies?

If the eggs are fully cooked in the preparation, yes. See our recipe below. Raw or undercooked eggs pose an increased risk of Salmonella, a common bacterium that can lead to foodborne illness and symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and fever.6 Children under the age of 5 are especially susceptible, since their immune systems are still developing.7 For this reason, avoid eggnog featuring raw eggs.

If you’re concerned about sugar and are making your own eggnog, you can certainly modify the recipe to feature less sugar. That said, try not to view the holidays as a time where you need to dramatically alter your family’s traditions and dietary habits. While we generally recommend waiting until age 2 to introduce sugar into a toddler’s diet, small tastes of pasteurized, alcohol-free eggnog during a family celebration after a baby’s first birthday is just fine.

Important: Keep eggnog in the refrigerator

Any type of eggnog that’s been sitting at room temperature for more than 2 hours (which can happen easily at a family party) is not safe for anyone to consume, due to the possibility of bacterial growth and the heightened risk of foodborne illness.8

Recipe: Homemade Eggnog to Share with Toddlers

two small glasses photographed from above, each filled with creamy white liquid. the larger glass is sprinkled with a brown spice and a cinnamon stick is laid across the top

Yield: 6 cups (1 ½ liters)

Cook Time: 45 minutes + overnight chill

Age: 12 months+

Ingredients:

  • 6 large eggs
  • 4 cups (1 liter) whole milk
  • ¼ cup (60 milliliters) maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon (½ gram) kosher salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • ¼ cup (60 milliliters) whipped cream per person (optional) 
  • ¼ teaspoon (½ gram) nutmeg (optional)

This recipe contains common allergens: dairy (whole milk, whipped cream) and egg. Only serve to a child after these allergens have been safely introduced.

Directions:

  1. This is a good recipe to make when the kids are sleeping. Read Step 5 to learn why!
  2. To begin, grab a kitchen thermometer and a heavy-bottomed saucepan, which helps evenly distribute heat on the stovetop and keep the eggs from scrambling. If you don’t have these tools, just cook on the lowest heat setting and make sure to stir consistently. See video for a manual trick to test for doneness.
  3. Whisk the eggs, half of the milk, maple syrup, and salt until smooth. Make sure the egg whites and yolks are fully combined with no remaining streaks of egg white. Go ahead and use a non-dairy milk if you like; just be sure to select one with ingredients that have been safely introduced.
  4. Add the cinnamon stick. This step is optional. You can skip the spice or use whatever spices that you like—allspice, cardamom, clove, and nutmeg are all delicious!
  5. Place the saucepan on low heat and cook, stirring consistently with a whisk, until the mixture thickens. This process takes time, between 15 and 30 minutes depending on your stovetop, and unfortunately, there is no way to rush it. Warming the mixture over higher heat curdles the eggs. It’s also best to stay at the stovetop, whisking consistently and pushing the whisk to the edges of the saucepan so that the eggs do not scramble.
  6. Keep a close eye on the eggnog and do not let it simmer or boil—keep whisking to prevent the eggs from scrambling. The eggnog is ready when the mixture coats the back of a spoon and running your finger over the spoon leaves a trail. To test that the eggs are safely cooked, use a kitchen thermometer to check that the mixture has reached 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 degrees Celsius).
  7. Remove the saucepan from the heat and discard the cinnamon stick. Whisk the remaining milk into the eggnog. Cool at room temperature for 10 minutes, then transfer the mixture to an airtight container to store in the refrigerator. Eggnog tastes best after a day or two of rest.
  8. When you are ready to serve, pour a small amount (under ¼ cup / 60 milliliters) into a child-friendly open cup and scoop a dollop or two of whipped cream on top.
  9. Pour yourself some eggnog, and if you like, spike it with brandy or rum.
  10. Serve the eggnog and if you like, invite the child to garnish the drinks with a pinch of nutmeg. Drink alongside your child to model how it’s done!

To Store: Homemade Eggnog to Share with Toddlers keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Reviewed by:

V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP

Dr. R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist

  1. CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. (2021). U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved December 10, 2021
  2. Dolan, L. C., Matulka, R. A., & Burdock, G. A. (2010). Naturally occurring food toxinsToxins2(9), 2289–2332. DOI: 10.3390/toxins2092289. Retrieved December 10, 2021
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Raw milk questions and answers. Retrieved December 10, 2021
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Raw milk questions and answers. Retrieved December 10, 2021
  5. WHO Working Group (1988). Foodborne listeriosis. WHO Working Group. Bulletin of the World Health Organization66(4), 421–428. Retrieved December 10, 2021
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Salmonella and eggs. Retrieved December 10, 2021
  7. U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2021). People at risk: Children under five. FoodSaftey.gov. Retrieved December 10, 2021
  8. U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2019). What is the “2 hour rule” with leaving food out? AskUSDA. Retrieved December 10, 2021
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