Celery may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Raw celery’s firm texture poses a choking risk, so take care when introducing this vegetable to babies.
Raw celery is a common choking hazard, so keep reading to learn more about safely introducing it to babies.
Celery’s wild ancestors originated in the fertile lands around the Mediterranean Sea, and humans have cultivated celery for thousands of years. This has led to a variety of cultivars, including celeriac (a variety specifically grown for its swollen, edible stem), leaf celery (common throughout Asia), Pascal celery (the kind that is common throughout markets and stores in North America), and many others. Celery enjoyed quite the fad in the 19th century United States, leading to an explosion of celery-based products. While celery soda is no longer the hot new thing, celery is still commonly pressed into juice, as well as cooked into diverse dishes, from gumbos, soups, to stews like khoreshte karafs.
Alex, 6 months, uses a raw celery stick as a food teether with a yogurt dip.
Mila, 10 months, eats cooked slivers of celery.
Juliet Rose, 15 months, eats raw slivers of celery.
Yes. Celery offers lots of vitamin K for healthy blood, some folate for baby’s development and growth, and plenty of carotenoids, many of which convert to vitamin A for skin, eye, and immune health. Plus, it contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that benefit the gut and immune system.
Celery stalks and leaves contain natural compounds called furanocoumarins, which are perfectly safe as part of a regular varied diet, but may be harmful when consumed in great excess. In moderation, these compounds may even benefit certain conditions thanks to their antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties.
Yes. Raw celery’s firm texture carries an increased risk of choking. To reduce the risk, slice the stalks crosswise into thin half-moons and cook until soft. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meals. For more information on choking, visit our sections on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.
No. Allergies to celery are uncommon, but are reported to be increasing in prevalence, with reactions ranging from mild to severe. Individuals with Oral Allergy Syndrome (also known as pollen food allergy syndrome), particularly those who are allergic to birch and mugwort pollen and/or are sensitive to other foods within the Apiaceae family, such as carrot and fennel, may also be sensitive to celery. Other spices that cross-react with celery include coriander, caraway seed, celery, chervil, cumin, dill, aniseed and parsley. Oral Allergy Syndrome typically results in short-lived itching, tingling, or burning in the mouth and is unlikely to result in a dangerous reaction. Cooking celery can help minimize the reaction, but some individuals may still be sensitive to cooked celery. Food-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis with celery has been reported when individuals consumed celery in the 4 hours before exercise.
As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity of celery for the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.
Yes. You may have heard that celery and other vegetables (like arugula, beets, carrots, lettuce, spinach, and squash to name a few) contain nitrates, naturally-occurring compounds which, if consumed in large amounts, may negatively affect oxygen levels in the blood. Babies younger than 3 months of age and/or those with health concerns may be more susceptible to the effects of nitrates. Organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the European Food Safety Authority view nitrates in vegetables as generally not a concern for most healthy children and that the benefits of eating these vegetables as part of a varied diet typically outweigh the risks of excess nitrate exposure.
No. Juice of any kind should not be given to babies under 12 months of age, unless directed to do so by a health provider in very specific circumstances. While celery juice is regarded as a popular health drink, even after 12 months of age, consider limiting or avoiding celery juice as it can be excessively high in nitrates. Small amounts of juice (less than 4 ounces, ideally diluted with water), may be offered on occasion but is not necessary. While celery juice is not sweet like fruit juices, offering celery in its whole form is still more nutritious.
Yes. Celery contains some fiber and water, which help to support healthy gut bacteria, bulk up poop, and hydrate the intestines for healthy digestion and bowel movements. Remember that pooping patterns can vary significantly from baby to baby. If you have concerns about baby’s pooping and digestive function, talk to your pediatric healthcare provider.
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.
Cut a stalk of celery crosswise into thin slivers, then cook until soft. From there, you can incorporate the cooked slivers into soft foods like porridge, ricotta cheese, or grain dishes for baby to scoop with their hands.
If you feel comfortable, you can also offer baby a whole stalk of raw celery as a food teether and as a dipper for other soft, scoopable foods. Munching on the stalk strengthens the jaw, helps the tongue learn to move food to the side of the mouth for chewing, and helps baby “map” the inside of the mouth. For babies with teeth and a strong jaw, it is possible (but unlikely) for them to bite off a piece of celery. If this happens, give baby a moment to spit it out, keeping your fingers out of baby’s mouth. Kneeling down in front of baby so they are looking down at you can allow gravity to help the food come forward in the mouth.
Serve cooked celery cut into thin slivers, either on their own as finger food or mixed into cooked grains and other dishes. Chopped celery cooked into soups, stews, and other family dishes is also fine at this age.
Serve cooked celery into thin slivers, and at this age, if you feel comfortable, you can also offer raw half-moon slivers of celery. Just make sure to keep the slivers thin and model good chewing for the toddler.
When a child is regularly showing mature eating skills (taking small bites, moving food to the side of the mouth to be chewed, chewing thoroughly, and not stuffing too much food in their mouth), they may be ready to practice eating long, raw celery stalks in a safe, supervised setting. Celery can pose a high choking risk because of its firm texture, so offer celery stalks when a child is seated, engaged in eating, and when you can supervise mealtime closely. Showing how to dip the stalk in a dip or sauce such as hummus, ranch dressing, or a bit of a nut butter for added flavor can encourage a resistant toddler to try it.
How to prepare celery for babies 6 months+
Learn all about making foods safe in our video Preparing Food for Baby.
Not sure how to introduce this food? Give this recipe a try. Feel free to substitute ingredients and flavor the food with your favorite seasonings.
Onion or shallot
Ground lamb (or any ground meat!)
Butter, olive oil, or fat of your choice
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
Pediatrician & pediatric allergist/immunologist
Pediatric occupational therapist, feeding & swallowing specialist, international board-certified lactation consultant
Speech-language pathologist, feeding & swallowing specialist
Pediatric registered dietitian & nutritionist
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