When can babies eat chives?
Chives may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.
Background and origins of chives
Chives are an allium from the family of plants that includes leeks, scallions, shallots, and other onions, but their dainty green stems are milder and sweeter in taste. The entire plant is edible, including the roots and flowers, which smell like garlic. Chives are widely used as a culinary herb all over Asia, Europe, Southwest Asia, and more. It adds bright grassy flavor to dishes, and some cultures even treat the aromatic stalks as medicine thanks to their diuretic and antibacterial qualities.1 2
Chives are so delicate that they are often served raw because they lose their flavor when dried or cooked. Check out our ideas on how to introduce this beloved herb during baby’s solid foods journey.
★Tip: Chives about to wilt in your fridge? Mince them and mix with soft butter, then freeze it. A scoop of frozen chive butter works wonders for chicken, fish, rice, and steak dishes. It’s also delicious slathered on toasted bread or mixed into scrambled eggs!
Are chives healthy for babies?
Yes. Chives contain fiber, folate, and vitamins A, C, and K, as well as trace amounts of calcium, copper, and iron. Their flowers even contain a little vitamin E—an important antioxidant. It also contains an amazing plant compound called kaempferol, which may have anti-cancer properties, amongst many other beneficial phytonutrients such as carotenoids, polyphenols, and more.3 4 5 6 That said, chives probably won’t pack a big nutritional punch in your little one’s diet because they are often served in small quantities as a garnish. But while chives may not be a superfood, they do have a superpower: chives (like all herbs) are a great tool to enhance flavor without adding salt.
★Tip: Chives are easy to grow and even store-bought chives store well in the fridge. Since only small quantities typically are eaten at one time, here’s how to preserve the rest for up to a week in the fridge: store extra unwashed chives in a towel or paper towel, placed in a plastic bag, rolled to eliminate excess air but with the end of the bag partially unsealed (to prevent them from becoming mushy). Alternatively, place the roots in a jar of water on your counter.
Are chives a common choking hazard for babies?
No. Chive stems should not pose any unusual risk, though chive flowers could if not chopped or pulled apart before serving. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment, stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meals, and check out our age-appropriate serving suggestions.
Are chives a common allergen?
No. Allergic reactions to chives are rare, but not unheard of.7 8 People who are sensitive to garlic or onions may also be sensitive to chives as they are members of the same family of plants, the lily family.9 While information on Oral Allergy Syndrome and chives is limited, individuals with Oral Allergy Syndrome (also called pollen fruit syndrome), and in particular, those with sensitivities to grass pollen or mugwort pollen (a weed), may also be sensitive to other vegetables within the lily family.10 11 Oral Allergy Syndrome typically results in short-lived itching or burning in the mouth and is unlikely to result in a dangerous reaction.
As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity for the first couple of servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.
How to serve chives for babies with baby-led weaning?
Every baby develops on their own timeline. The preparation suggestions below are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional, nutritionist or dietitian, or expert in pediatric feeding and eating. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
6 to 9 months old: Fold minced chives and/or minced chive flowers into soft, scoopable foods like congee (rice porridge), egg frittata, mashed vegetables, or yogurt.
9 to 18 months old: This is the time to boost the herbs and spices in your dishes, as many food preferences start taking root during this stage. Use chives and chive flowers liberally in your cooking, and don’t forget about breakfast. Minced chives in scrambled eggs or mascarpone cheese spread on toasted bread are two delicious options!
18 to 24 months old: Around this time, children may develop strong food preferences, but try not to cave by only serving favorite foods. Continue to cook with chives and offer what the rest of the family is eating. Chives can add onion flavor in many dishes, including dumplings, eggs, lentil salad, meatballs, quick breads, and noodles to name a few. They can also be used as a garnish to add bright color and flavor to spreads and finished dishes.
Dinnertime fast approaching and all out of ideas? Our dinner guide has 100 baby- and toddler-friendly recipes that are easy to make, each accompanied with gorgeous photos.
Recipe: Chives Meatballs + Dip
Yield: 10-12 meatballs
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Age: 6 months+
- 1 pound (453 grams) ground beef, chicken, lamb, or pork
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (30 grams) minced chives
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) coconut aminos
- 1/2 cup (48 grams) almond flour or breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup (60 grams) Greek yogurt or yogurt of choice (optional)
This recipe contains common allergens: egg, wheat (optional), tree nuts (optional), and dairy (optional). Only serve after these allergens have been safely introduced.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius). Line a sheet tray with parchment paper.
- Add the pork, ¼ cup of minced chives, egg, coconut aminos, and breadcrumbs or almond flour to a mixing bowl.
- Use a wooden spoon (or your hands!) to combine the ingredients.
- Form the pork mixture into meatballs that are approximately 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Evenly space the meatballs on the sheet tray.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the meatballs to brown the other side. Bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Mix the yogurt and remaining 1 tablespoon (16 grams) of minced chives together while the meatballs are baking.
- Serve the meatballs with the chive dip on the side. Encourage the child to self-feed with their hands and dip the meatballs in the chive yogurt. Eat your meal alongside the child to show them how it’s done!
To Store: Leftover meatballs and dip can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Cooked meatballs can also be frozen for up to 2 months.
Chives have a delicate onion flavor that enhances savory foods. Try pairing chives with mild proteins like chicken, eggs, fish, and pork; mixing into creamy foods like goat cheese, mascarpone cheese, and Greek yogurt; folding into hearty grains and legumes like chickpeas, lentils, and rice; and sprinkling on fresh produce like artichoke, asparagus, avocado, corn on the cob, and tomatoes. Try stirring chives together with some sesame oil for an easy dipping sauce for vegetables.
J. Truppi, MSN, CNS
V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP
K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT
S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. (allergy section)
R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist
- Strati, I. F., Kostomitsopoulos, G., Lytras, F., Zoumpoulakis, P., Proestos, C., & Sinanoglou, V. J. (2018). Optimization of Polyphenol Extraction from Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum through Response Surface Methodology. Foods, 7(10), 162. DOI: 10.3390/foods7100162. Retrieved April 7, 2021
- Mnayer, D., Fabiano-Tixier, A. S., Petitcolas, E., Hamieh, T., Nehme, N., Ferrant, C., Fernandez, X., & Chemat, F. (2014). Chemical composition, antibacterial and antioxidant activities of six essentials oils from the Alliaceae family. Molecules, 19(12), 20034–20053. DOI: 10.3390/molecules191220034. Retrieved April 7, 2021
- Imran, M., Salehi, B., Sharifi-Rad, J., Aslam Gondal, T., Saeed, F., et al. (2019). Kaempferol: A Key Emphasis to Its Anticancer Potential. Molecules, 24(12), 2277. DOI: 10.3390/molecules24122277. Retrieved April 7, 2021
- Nicastro, H. L., Ross, S. A., & Milner, J. A. (2015). Garlic and onions: their cancer prevention properties. Cancer prevention research, 8(3), 181–189. DOI:10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-14-0172. Retrieved April 12, 2021
- Larsen, E., & Christensen, L. P. (2005). Simple saponification method for the quantitative determination of carotenoids in green vegetables. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 53(17), 6598–6602. DOI: 10.1021/jf050622+. Retrieved April 12, 2021
- Lenková, M., Bystrická, J., Tóth, T., & Hrstková, M. (2016). Evaluation and comparison of the content of total polyphenols and antioxidant activity of selected species of the genus Allium. Journal of Central European Agriculture, 17(4), 1119–1133. DOI: 10.5513/JCEA01/17.4.1820. Retrieved April 12, 2021
- Kobayashi, T., Ito, T., Egusa, C., Maeda, T., Numata, T., Okubo, Y., & Tsuboi, R. (2015). A case of contact urticaria inducing anaphylaxis due to Liliaceae vegetables in a hand eczema patient. Allergology International 64, 211-213. Retrieved April 7, 2021
- Moneret-Vautrin, D. A., Morisset, M., Lemerdy, P., Croizier, A., & Kanny, G. (2002). Food allergy and IgE sensitization caused by spices: CICBAA data (based on 589 cases of food allergy). Allergie et immunologie, 34(4), 135–140. Retrieved April 7, 2021
- Garlic. (2018). Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed). Retrieved April 7, 2021
- Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) or Pollen Fruit Syndrome (PFS). Retrieved April 12, 2021
- Armentia A, Martín-Armentia S, Pineda F, Martín-Armentia B, Castro M, Fernández S, et al. Allergic hypersensitivity to garlic and onion in children and adults. Allergol Immunopathol (Madr). 2020;48(3):232-6.