Celery

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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Common Allergen: No
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three celery stalks on a table before being prepared for babies starting solid food

When can babies eat celery?

Celery and other raw, hard vegetables are common choking hazards and must be modified to be safe for babies starting solids. Cooked and finely sliced, however, may be introduced as soon as your baby is ready for solids, which is generally around six months of age.

Zuri, 10 months, explores a raw celery stick like a teether. Note: Raw vegetables are a choking hazard but can be great for furthering oral motor skills. See our Choking section for more detail and for how to minimize the choking risk.
Hawii, 12 months, eats raw celery sticks.
Max, 13 months, eats cooked celery slivers with beef.

Is celery healthy for babies?

Not really. While celery contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that benefit our gut and immune systems, the vegetable doesn’t offer the nutrition density that babies require in their early stages of development. Celery does pack a punch of vitamin K (for blood health) and offers some vitamin A and folate, which are certainly beneficial, but it’s unlikely your baby will eat enough of the vegetable to reap those benefits. And did you know that one medium stalk of celery has as much sodium as one Ritz cracker? Celery is a natural source of sodium, which can be harmful to babies in excess.

Is celery a common choking hazard for babies?

Yes. You won’t find celery on top choking hazard lists for babies, but as with any raw vegetable, it can certainly pose a risk. When serving celery to babies, be sure to slice it in half moons and cook it until soft.

For more information, visit our section on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with common choking hazards.

Is celery a common allergen?

No. Allergies to celery are rare, though it may trigger reactions in people with Oral Allergy Syndrome, a food-related allergy also known as “food pollen syndrome” that causes reactions to foods with similar protein structures to pollen.

How do you prepare celery for babies with baby-led weaning?

6 to 12 months old: Cut a stalk of celery on the bias into half-moon slivers, then sauté in unsalted butter until soft. From there you can incorporate into other foods (such as stuffing) to make it easier for your baby to consume. If you’d like to offer a raw celery stick purely for oral motor skills development, you may, just know that raw veggies like celery increase the risk of choking.

12 to 18 months old: Serve cooked or raw celery that has been sliced into half-moon slivers. Celery is great for fork practice too!

18 to 24 months old: At this age your child may be ready for celery sticks. Cut into thin matchsticks to aid chewing and so pieces are not too big to swallow. When serving raw vegetables (or any food, really), make sure your child is sitting and not running around and watch closely. Blanching the celery in hot water to soften the stalks slightly will reduce the risk.

For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.

Babies enjoy choice just like we do. When introducing a new food, try serving it two ways. Every child is different, and certain textures and shapes will appeal to your baby more than others.

Recipe: Celery Two Ways with Lamb

Ingredients

  • Celery root
  • Celery stalks
  • Onion or shallot
  • Ground lamb (or any ground meat!)
  • Butter, olive oil, or fat of your choice

Directions

  1. Peel the tough skin from 1 medium-sized celery root (about the size of a softball) and rinse under cold water to wash away the dirt. Chop the root then add to a large sauce pan.
  2. Cover with water and bring to a boil, then immediately turn down the heat to medium and gently simmer until the root is fully softened, about 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Use a fork or a potato masher to mash the celery root. Set aside.
  3. While the celery root is cooking, wash 3 celery stalks, and cut off and set aside the ends and any leafy greens. (They can be tossed in the freezer to be used for future smoothies for yourself.)
  4. Use a vegetable peeler to peel away any tough strings on the outside of the celery stalks, then use a sharp knife to chop the prepared stalks into fine half-moon pieces.
  5. Finely chop 1 medium-sized onion (about the size of a baseball) or 2 shallots. Sauté the onion and celery in butter or the fat of your choice until they are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add 1 pound of ground lamb or the ground meat of your choice and cook until it is well done, about 15 minutes.
  6. Scoop a dollop or two of mashed celery root in a bowl that suctions to the table, then add a heaping spoonful of the celery stalk-meat mixture on top. If your baby is younger than 12 months or needs greater assistance with eating, mix the celery stalk-meat mixture into the mashed celery root. Encourage self-feeding by pre-loading a spoon for your baby to pick up.

Flavor Pairings

Celery is a fascinating and unusually salty flavor for a vegetable, and tends to pair well with apple, carrots, fennel, onion, garlic, potato, walnut, tahini, plain yogurt, goat cheese, egg, beef, chicken, lamb and shellfish. And also grandma’s Thanksgiving stuffing!