Bone Broth

Food Type:
Age Suggestion: 6 months +
Nutrition Rating:How nutritious a food is with a focus on the specific nutrients babies need for optimal growth. The more nutritious a food, the more stars it will have.
Prep Time:How much time a food takes to prepare safely for a baby. The more time-consuming a food is to prepare safely, the more clocks it will have.
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Poop Friendly:Whether a food has qualities that help baby poop. Yes
Common Allergen: No
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a small glass container filled with bone broth on a plain background

When can babies have bone broth?

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.

How long have humans made bone broth?

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.

Is bone broth healthy for babies?

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.1 2

★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.3 Additionally, the longer you cook animal bones (up to 12 hours), the more nutrients will be available in the broth.4

Can you give bone broth to babies when they are sick?

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.5 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.6

Is bone broth a common choking hazard for babies?

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.

Is bone broth a common allergen?

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.7 8 9 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.

How do you introduce bone broth to babies with baby-led weaning?

6 to 9 months old: 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.

9 to 12 months old: 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).

12 to 24 months old: 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.

What are recipe ideas for cooking with bone broth?

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.

Recipe: Bone Broth for Babies

a glass filled with pale brown broth next to a tiny glass cup of the same liquid

Yield: 2 liters (2 quarts)
Cook Time: 6 hours
Age: 6 months+

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken carcass (or the bones of any animal)
  • 1 large carrot (optional)
  • 1 large onion (optional)
  • 2-inch knob fresh ginger (optional)
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)

Directions

This recipe calls for a slow cooker. If you do not have one, you can make bone broth with a large pot set on low heat on the stovetop for the same amount of time.

  1. Chop the carcass into 2 or 3 sections, which will allow it to fit better in the slow cooker and encourages the release of collagen during cooking.
  2. Peel and halve the carrot, onion, and ginger if using, and then add them to the pot.
  3. Add the herbs, if using, then pour in enough water to cover the ingredients by 2 inches. Cover and set the slow cooker on low heat. Cook for 2 to 6 hours.
  4. Strain out and discard the solid ingredients, then let the bone broth cool slightly.

To Serve: Use as an ingredient in meals, or serve up to 4 ounces (118 ml) of bone broth per day in an open cup with meals (never in a bottle).

To Store: Slow Cooker Bone Broth keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 days or in the freezer for 2 months. If freezing, portion bone broth in 1- or 2-cup containers so you have easy access to small quantities needed when cooking. Take care to leave 1 to 2 inches of space at the top for the liquid to expand as it becomes solid.

★ Tip: As bone broth cools, it can turn gelatinous depending on the types of bones used in the recipe. This is normal, and once the broth is reheated, it will liquify again.

Flavor Pairings

Bone broth pairs well with the flavors of bell pepper, garlic, onion, potato, rice, and tomato.

Reviewed by

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

  1. Rochester, J. R., & Bolden, A. L. (2015). Bisphenol S and F: A Systematic Review and Comparison of the Hormonal Activity of Bisphenol A Substitutes. Environmental health perspectives, 123(7), 643–650. DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1408989. Retrieved April 25, 2022.
  2. Braun J. M. (2017). Early-life exposure to EDCs: role in childhood obesity and neurodevelopment. Nature reviews. Endocrinology, 13(3), 161–173. DOI: 10.1038/nrendo.2016.186. Retrieved April 25, 2022
  3. Hsu, D. J., Lee, C. W., Tsai, W. C., & Chien, Y. C. (2017). Essential and toxic metals in animal bone broths. Food & nutrition research, 61(1), 1347478. DOI: 10.1080/16546628.2017.1347478. Retrieved April 25, 2022.
  4. Hsu, D. J., Lee, C. W., Tsai, W. C., & Chien, Y. C. (2017). Essential and toxic metals in animal bone broths. Food & nutrition research, 61(1), 1347478. DOI: 10.1080/16546628.2017.1347478. Retrieved April 25, 2022.
  5. Rennard, B. O. et al. (2000). Chicken Soup Inhibits Neutrophil Chemotaxis In Vitro. CHEST, Volume 118, Issue 4, 1150 – 1157. DOI: 10.1378/chest.118.4.1150. Retrieved April 25, 2022.
  6. Ke, L., Wang, H., Gao, G., Rao, P., He, L., & Zhou, J. (2017). Direct interaction of food derived colloidal micro/nano-particles with oral macrophages. NPJ science of food, 1, 3. DOI: 10.1038/s41538-017-0003-3. Retrieved April 25, 2022.
  7. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. (2019). Alpha-gal and red meat allergy. Retrieved April 26, 2022
  8. Wilson, J. M., & Platts-Mills, T. (2018). Meat allergy and allergens. Molecular immunology, 100, 107–112. DOI: 10.1016/j.molimm.2018.03.018. Retrieved April 26, 2022
  9. Zacharisen MC. (2006). Severe allergy to chicken meat. WMJ. 105(5):50-2. Retrieved April 26, 2022.