It is not wheat despite its name. Buckwheat is technically a fruit that produces grain-like seeds (also called groats) that are free of gluten—unlike wheat berries which are full of the stuff. In fact, buckwheat can be eaten by people with Celiac Disease, wheat allergies, and wheat sensitivities. The groats are a favorite food and ingredient in many parts of the world, including China, Japan, Korea, Nepal, Russia, Ukraine, and beyond. Their nutty, earthy flavor is the star of many popular dishes, from kasha and crepes, to soba noodles and vegetarian burgers. They are even used to make gluten-free bread!
Maya, 6 months, eats strips of buckwheat pancake.
Callie, 11 months, eats buckwheat porridge.
Hannah, 15 months, eats buckwheat soba noodles.
As soon as your baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. If your baby is just starting to eat solid food, you may find it easiest to serve buckwheat in a porridge or risotto-style dish. Check out our age-appropriate serving ideas!
Yes! Buckwheat offers plenty of zinc, copper, magnesium, and manganese; as well as some iron and selenium – all essential minerals to help your baby’s growth and development. It also has a low glycemic index, which means buckwheat can help regulate blood sugar levels. Buckwheat is also rich in flavonoids, which are plant compounds that boost the body’s immune system by acting as antioxidants and extending the impact of vitamin C. To top it off, buckwheat contains protein (including all amino acids!) and lots of fiber and lignans to support a healthy and happy gut.
No. Buckwheat is not a common choking hazard, but, in theory, one could choke on any food. As always, stay near your little one during mealtime… and check out our suggestions for introducing buckwheat to your baby!
No. While evidence indicates that buckwheat allergies may be on the rise in Asia, particularly in Japan, it is not currently considered a common food allergen in the Western hemisphere. Though uncommon, buckwheat is a potent allergen for those few children who do develop allergy to it, and can cause severe allergic reactions from ingestion or inhalation of the flour.
Contrary to its name, buckwheat actually has no relation to wheat and can be eaten in its pure form by people with Celiac disease, wheat allergies, and wheat sensitivities. However, buckwheat flour is commonly blended with wheat flour (a common food allergen) and can also sometimes be contaminated with gluten as it is processed. If wheat or gluten need to be avoided in your little one’s diet, be sure to read the labels and double check the ingredient list just in case.
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience. Your child is an individual and may have needs or considerations beyond generally accepted practices. In determining the recommendations for size and shape of foods, we use the best available scientific information regarding gross, fine, and oral motor development to minimize choking risk. The preparation suggestions we offer are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for child-specific, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional or provider. It is impossible to fully eliminate all risk of a baby or child choking on any liquid, puree, or food. We advise you to follow all safety protocols we suggest to create a safe eating environment and to make educated choices for your child regarding their specific needs. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
Cooked buckwheat groats are tough to pick up at this stage, so try preparing buckwheat groats as a porridge or risotto for easy hand-scooping, which will be possible around 7 to 8 months of age when baby’s raking grasp develops. (A raking grasp is a hand motion where baby uses all of their fingers, but not the thumb, like a rake to bring objects toward themselves.) You can also offer strips of buckwheat pancake or consider mixing cooked buckwheat groats into meatballs or veggie burgers for added nutrition and explore recipes utilizing soba noodles.
Time for utensil practice! Hand scooping is just fine, but as your toddler’s dexterity develops, start offering buckwheat porridge, buckwheat risotto, buckwheat salad, and soba noodles along with utensils or training chopsticks, pre-loading as needed. Buckwheat flour is also a great gluten-free flour alternative for baking. Just be sure to read the labels as buckwheat flours are sometimes a blend of wheat flours.
While it’s not necessary, soaking helps. Place the buckwheat groats in water for an hour (or overnight) to reduce cooking time and help make the nutrients easier to absorb. Soaking also makes the groats stickier—a boon for little ones who are learning to feed themselves!
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
1 cup buckwheat groats
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (about equal to one 15-ounce can)
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, cherries, or fruit of choice
Rinse the buckwheat groats in a colander. Place in a medium pot set on moderate heat.
If you’d like to enhance the flavor, toast the buckwheat groats for a minute or two until they are fragrant. Otherwise, add the coconut milk and bring the mixture to a boil.
As soon as the liquid starts to boil, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot.
Wash the blueberries (and defrost if using frozen fruit) then add to the pot after 10 minutes of cooking time. Stir to combine.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the buckwheat groats have softened and the blueberries have burst, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Measure 1 cup of porridge into a bowl that suctions to the table. Store the rest in an air-tight container in the fridge for future meals.
Serve with a spoon placed on the side to encourage utensil practice, but know that hand-scooping is just fine, too!
J. Truppi, MSN, CNS
V. Kalami, MNSP, RD
K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT
S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. (allergy section)
R. Ruiz, MD Board-Certified General Pediatrician and Pediatric Gastroenterologist
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