Low-sodium broths and stocks made from meat or poultry may be introduced in meals or as a drink as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. When serving bone broth as a drink, limit the amount to less than 4 ounces (118 milliliters) a day before the first birthday, even when baby is sick.
Simmer bones covered in water, with plants and seasonings if you like, until the liquid is rich with collagen and full of flavor. Humans have been endlessly adapting this time-honored recipe for thousands of years, since our ancestors first used a pot to boil water, or even before—using natural containers like animal stomachs to hold and heat the liquid. In modern times, cooks use different names for the warm elixir. Often, it is known simply as broth, an ancient word used to describe liquid boiled with any ingredient. Others call it stock, the name popularized by famed French chef, Auguste Escoffier. These terms are often used interchangeably, though others draw distinctions between the two.
William, 8 months, drinks bone broth from an open cup.
Julian, 13 months, drinks bone broth from an open cup.
Callie, 18 months, uses a spoon to drink bone broth.
Yes, although as a drink, it should only be offered in small amounts after 6 months of age. If you’d like to serve bone broth on its own, be sure to only offer it in an open cup during a meal (1-2 ounces per meal is a good rule of thumb and no more than 4 ounces per day) and never put bone broth in a baby’s bottle. Babies can become quite efficient with bottles and are at risk for drinking a large volume of bone broth, which can displace the desire for more nutritious intake, like breast (human) milk or formula. Starting the habit of serving drinks like bone broth in a cup or with a straw sets the precedent that meals are the main event and the drink is secondary.
Nutrients in bone broths and stocks depend on various factors: cook time, whether or not acid was added, bone type, animal type, the animal’s diet, and any additional ingredients like spices or vegetables. In general, bones are mineral-dense, so small amounts of a variety of minerals may be present, including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Bone broths also offer small amounts of protein and fat.
When serving store-bought broth to babies, opt for low-sodium versions (less than 100 mg of sodium per serving). Bone broths and stocks can be very high in sodium, which can be unhealthy for babies and toddlers when consumed in excess. Lastly, look for containers labeled “BPA-free” or “BPA-NI." Bisphenol A (BPA) is in many food storage containers, and studies show that frequent exposure to this chemical may affect neurological development.
★Tip: When making broth at home, adding an acid such as apple cider vinegar or lemon juice helps healthy minerals leach out of the bones and into the liquid. Additionally, the longer you cook animal bones (up to 12 hours), the more nutrients will be available in the broth.
No, bone broth is not a common choking hazard. That said, thin liquids like broth are commonly aspirated. Aspiration occurs when something enters the breathing tube, and from there, the trachea and lungs. To reduce the risk, serve small volumes of broth in a small open cup or straw cup. As always, make sure to create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of baby during mealtime. For more information on choking, visit our sections on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.
No. Bone broth made from meat or poultry (and the animal meat that may linger on the bones used to make it) is not a common allergen, though in theory, an individual can be allergic to any food. While uncommon, allergies to beef, chicken, and pork have been reported. Finally, bone broth can be high in histamine, especially if it is cooked for an extended period of time. For some individuals, eating foods high in histamine can result in symptoms that mimic those of an allergic reaction.
As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity for the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.
Recommended Guide: Introducing Allergens
Yes, although the same limits on daily amount apply, whether baby is sick or not. For babies under 12 months of age, offer up to 4 ounces (118 ml) of bone broth per day in an open cup with meals (never in a bottle). Bone broths have traditionally been used as remedies for colds and to improve immunity and are often considered to be collagen-boosting and healing for the gut. While broth does contain proteins (which are some of the building blocks for gut health) and they are generally nutritious foods, there is currently little evidence supporting these specific claims.
From pot au feu to mocotó to pho, bone broth serves as the foundation for lots of delicious dishes. When introducing bone broth to baby, try lightly poaching vegetables or boiling grains in bone broth to infuse them with flavor. Mix bone broth into mashed vegetables to add creaminess, or use it to make gravy or sauce. Share the flavors with younger babies by cooking beans or lentils in bone broth, then mashing some of the flavor-infused legumes to serve to baby. For toddlers and older children, invite the child to help season bone broth with favorite herbs and spices—then serve it as a drink.
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience.
Use low-sodium bone broths and stocks as desired in your cooking. If you’d like to introduce bone broth as a drink, take care to offer only small amounts. Treat broth like water: limit to 1-2 ounces (28-56 ml) served with a meal (no more than twice daily) and only offer in an open cup (never a bottle) at the table. At this age, the only drinks baby should be consuming are breast/human milk or formula, and, if desired, small amounts of water or broth.
Use low-sodium bone broths and stocks as desired in your cooking and offer up to 4 ounces (118 ml) of bone broth per day in an open cup with meals (never in a bottle).
Continue to use low-sodium bone broths and stocks as desired in your cooking. Offer up to 8 ounces (236 ml) of low-sodium bone broth per day in an open cup as a drink alongside the toddler’s meal. You can also invite the child to help season bone broth with favorite herbs and spices, which can help engage a toddler’s interest and build positive experiences around food. As you work bone broth into your cooking routine, remember to minimize a toddler’s sodium consumption.
If you've got a sick baby on your hands, check out our list of 50 Foods to Support Baby’s Immune System.
J. Truppi, MS, CNS. Certified Nutrition Specialist®
V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP. Board-Certified Pediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist
K. Tatiana Maldonado, MS, CCC-SLP, CBIS, CLEC. Pediatric Feeding Therapist
K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT. Pediatric Feeding Therapist
Dr. S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)
Dr. R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist
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