Basil may be introduced as soon as your baby is ready for solids, which is generally around 6 months old. Contrary to popular belief, babies do not need to start with bland foods, and you may introduce most spices and herbs right away. Basil is a member of the mint family, and its fresh leaves will add a bright flavor and smell to your baby’s meal.
Amelia, 8 months, eats chicken with basil and garlic....
Hawii, 13 months, eats pasta with basil....
Max, age 2, eats bread with pesto and tastes pesto sauce on its own....
While basil offers scant amounts of vitamin C, calcium, and iron, it’s an incredible source of vitamin K, which is important for growth, bone formation, and blood clotting. Additionally, basil contains beta-carotene, an antioxidant that converts to vitamin A, which is necessary for your baby’s eye health and vision. But the best reason, in our opinion, to introduce this tasty herb is its bright green color. Introducing leafy greens and herbs early on will broaden your baby’s palette and help stave off picky eating later on.
Basil stems, while edible, can be bitter and woody, especially if they were harvested toward the end of the plant’s growing season. When introducing basil to your baby, just use the leaves and chop them finely. Save yourself time and hassle by rolling the leaves together into one big roll, then slicing thinly to julienne the leaves. A mezzaluna (a half-moon shaped herb cutter) also works well with leafy herbs and greens like basil.
If served as a whole leaf, yes—basil can pose a choking risk. So, as long as it is chopped up, basil is safe for your baby to eat.
Yes, though basil allergies are uncommon. If your baby is sensitive to mint, however, then be careful because basil is a member of the mint family.
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience.
Pesto is probably your best bet! At this age, flat, wide egg noodles are easy for babies to self-feed. You may also spread pesto on a baby cracker, thin rice cake, or toast.
This is a great age to introduce fresh basil. While there’s no one right way to introduce basil, you may find that mixing it into other foods, such as ricotta, goat cheese, or a tomato salad may help your baby take interest in the taste and prevent little leafy parts from getting stuck to the back of the throat. And by all means, continue with pesto, spreading it on chicken, fish, and pasta dishes.
Use basil liberally in your dishes and when you have it fresh, offer some thinly sliced basil in a little bowl for your toddler to sprinkle on their own meal.
Mix up your kitchen routine with ideas from our guide, 100 Dinners for Babies & Toddlers.
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