When can babies eat artichokes?
Artichokes may be introduced as soon as your baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.
Background and origins of artichokes
Artichokes are a domesticated variety of the wild cardoon—a thistle in the sunflower family that is native to grassy fields around the Mediterranean Sea. The plant has been cultivated by humans for food and decoration since Roman times, and today there are more than 100 varieties whose artichokes range in size and vary in color from pale green to deep purple. The part of the plant that we call an “artichoke” is actually a flower, and behind its tough outer petals lies a tender bud or “heart” that has a mild herbal taste with a meaty texture. Artichoke hearts are a beloved ingredient in cooking, but the tough petals are also edible and fun to eat with older toddlers. Kids love to dip, and the petals are great vehicles for smooth sauces like aioli, salsa verde, and herb butter.
Are artichokes healthy for babies?
Yes! Artichokes are loaded with critical nutrients that developing babies need. Of note, the edible flower offers iron and vitamin C, along with copper, folate, magnesium, vitamins B and K, and zinc. To top it off, artichokes are a great source of antioxidants, healthy fats, and protein.
Artichokes are available fresh, frozen, or packaged in marinades or water. Fresh or frozen artichokes offer more nutrition, but canned, jarred, or tinned artichokes in water are a great choice, too. Just be sure to check the labels: some brands add lots of salt and other preservatives that are not great for babies… or adults for that matter!
Is artichoke a common choking hazard for babies?
If cooked to a soft consistency, artichoke hearts and the fleshy part of the petals should not pose any unusual risk. That said, an individual can choke on any food in theory. Always stay near your baby during mealtime and check out our age-appropriate serving suggestions.
Is artichoke a common allergen?
No. Allergy to artichoke is rare.1 In theory, however, an individual can be allergic to any food. As with all new foods, start by offering a small quantity of artichoke for the first couple of servings and watch closely. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.
How to prepare artichoke for babies with baby-led weaning?
Every baby develops on their own timeline. The preparation suggestions below are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional, nutritionist or dietitian, or expert in pediatric feeding and eating. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
6 to 12 months old: For our littlest ones, whole, steamed artichoke hearts are fun for babies to hold and munch on. To serve, peel the artichoke petals, cut away the hairy fuzz (or choke), and remove any tough woody parts on the stem, then cook the heart until its completely soft. The heart can be served whole, sliced into strips, or mashed. As your baby develops their pincer grasp (where the pointer finger and thumb meet), try offering smaller, bite-size pieces of the heart.
12 to 18 months old: Offer bite-size pieces of steamed or roasted artichoke hearts, either as finger food or with an age-appropriate fork. The flesh of a cooked artichoke heart is soft enough to easily pierce, but it will also hold up to lots of jabbing from babies as they learn to use utensils. If your baby needs help, try pre-loading the fork and resting it on the edge of the bowl for your baby to pick up. You can also hand the fork over in the air for your baby to grab. This is also a great time to fold artichoke hearts into grain dishes, pastas, spreads, and stews.
18 to 24 months old: Time to play! At this age you can either go back up in size to the full artichoke heart for your toddler to bite from, offer small bite-size pieces, and explore how to eat the other parts of the artichoke. Once your child understands how to follow directions, try modeling how to eat the petals by scraping the soft flesh away from the base with your teeth. Using a different color plate as a “discard” plate may help your child understand that some parts of the leaf are for eating and some not.
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
Like the flesh of apples and potatoes, artichoke hearts begin to brown as soon as they are exposed to air, but acid can slow down the process. Place a bowl of ice water with sliced lemons while you’re preparing fresh artichoke hearts. Once the petals and chokes are cut away, set the hearts in the bowl until you’re ready to cook.
Recipe: Lemony Artichoke Hearts
- 1 package frozen artichoke hearts
- 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon minced chives
- Defrost the artichoke hearts, then remove form the package and rinse in a colander.
- Place a steamer basket in a large pot. Add the juice from one half of the lemon and enough water so that the liquid reaches the base of the basket. Place the artichoke hearts in the basket and cover the pot. Bring the pot to boil, then reduce the heat to create a steady simmer.
- Steam until the artichoke hearts are soft and easily pierced with a knife. Steaming time can range between 10 and 20 minutes depending on how the artichokes were prepared before freezing. Some brands are pre-cooked while others are flash frozen.
- Remove the artichoke hearts from the steamer basket and transfer to a cutting board. Cut the artichoke hearts in an age-appropriate way as suggested above.
- Transfer your baby’s serving to a small mixing bowl. Place the rest in an air-tight container and sprinkle with the juice of ¼ of the remaining lemon. Cover the leftovers and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Heat up the butter and add the juice from the remaining lemon. Whisk to combine and pour over the chopped artichokes. Stir to combine.
- Serve the artichokes on their own in a bowl that suctions to the table, or spread on a slice of toast. Sprinkle chives on top if you’d like to add a little flavor.
Artichokes are versatile! The heart and petals of the flower taste great on their own or paired with creamy foods like butter, cheese, and mayonnaise; with fatty foods like anchovy or bacon; and with starchy vegetables like peas and potatoes. The herbal flavor complements light proteins like chicken and shellfish but also tastes great with bold meats like beef and lamb. Try adding fresh herbs for flavor—basil, chives, and mint are a few of our favorites!
- Romano, C., Ferrara, A., & Falagiani, P. (2000). A case of allergy to globe artichoke and other clinical cases of rare food allergy. Journal of investigational allergology & clinical immunology, 10(2), 102–104. Retrieved July 8, 2020