When served as cooked corn on the cob, corn may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months old. It is our professional opinion that cooked corn on the cob carries less risk than loose kernels for babies 6 months and older, as baby’s gnawing changes the kernel shape and reduces choking risk. Because of their small size, firmness, and slippery consistency, loose, whole corn kernels are a potential choking hazard for babies younger than 12 months of age.
Whole, loose corn kernels are a common choking hazard. Keep reading to learn how to safely introduce corn to babies.
Corn is an ancient grain with origins in Central and South America, where it evolved from a wild grass called teosinte. People living in the region learned how to cultivate the grain long before the arrival of Europeans, who introduced the plant overseas with its Taíno name, maize. For thousands of years, corn has represented life and sustenance for the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, who consider the plant to be sacred and the origin of all peoples.
Annika, 7 months old, eats corn on the cob
Callie, 10 months, eats corn on the cob
Bobbi, 16 months, eats corn on the cob
Yes. Sweet corn (the variety of corn typically available canned, frozen, and on the cob) is rich in carbohydrates and fiber, as well as a good source of folate, zinc, B vitamins, phosphorus and vitamin C–essential nutrients for baby’s growth. Sweet corn also contains phytochemicals that promote healthy vision and antioxidants to support baby’s immune system.
When fresh corn is not available, frozen or canned corn are good alternatives. Just look for canned corn marked “no salt added” or “low sodium” and opt for cans marked “BPA-free,” when available. Bisphenol A (BPA) is used to line the interior of some food containers, and studies show that frequent exposure can affect baby’s neurological development.
Yes. Whole, loose corn kernels are a potential choking hazard for babies. To reduce the risk, serve corn on the cob, as baby’s gnawing will mash the kernels, effectively changing both their round shape and slipperiness. Serving on the cob also prevents baby from scooping up lots of loose kernels at once and shoveling them into their mouth, where they can scatter and confuse the brain. However you serve, 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 section on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.
Corn allergies are uncommon, but have been reported, with symptoms ranging from short-lived oral allergy symptoms to anaphylaxis. Some individuals with allergy to lipid transfer proteins or chitinase may also have a corn allergy. Corn is known to cross-react with other cereal grains, especially rice, wheat, and barley. However, most individuals with corn allergy can safely consume other cereal grains, and vice versa.
As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity of corn on its own for the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.
Yes. Corn is very high in fiber, which increases stool bulk and promotes regular pooping. Additionally, corn has been shown to have specialized plant fibers that help the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Seeing what looks like undigested bits of corn in baby’s poop? This is normal, and baby is still getting valuable nutrition from the corn. The outer shell of corn is made from an insoluble fiber called cellulose, which is difficult to digest. When corn is seen in the stool, it is most often just this outer shell, as the inner contents are much easier to digest. Pooping patterns can vary significantly from child to child so talk to your pediatric healthcare provider if you have concerns about baby’s pooping and digestive function.
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.
Offer cooked corn on the cob cut into 2-inch (5 cm) rounds so baby can hold each piece with one hand. Avoid serving loose corn kernels as they are a choking hazard for babies. To lower the risk further, shave most of the kernels off and serve just the cob. While baby will get very little food in the belly this way, the activity of munching and gnawing on the cob can advance oral-motor development and strengthen jaw muscles.
Continue to offer corn on the cob in small rounds to make it easy for baby to get at the kernels, If you’d like to offer a whole large cob, that’s fine. Just know that baby may hold it vertically and may only eat the kernels off the tip of the cob.
At this age you may also introduce loose corn kernels on their own, but start with only a few at a time to discourage the toddler from shoveling lots of corn in their mouth. After you feel confident that your child is safely eating loose corn on its own, consider offering mixed into other dishes. Corn on the cob is also fantastic at this age, as it helps strengthen the jaw. At this age you can serve any size cob you like. If you'd like to offer canned baby corn, go ahead. Just cut each piece lengthwise so they are no longer round.
Get daily meal plans and recipes for babies starting solids in our First 100 Days Meal Plan.
1 tbsp (14 g) unsalted butter
1 lime (optional)
This recipe contains a common allergen: dairy (butter). Only serve to a child after this allergen has been safely introduced.
Peel the corn husks and silky threads from the cobs.
Cut off the ends of 1 cob, then slice the cob into 2 to 3 rounds (each about 2 inches or 5 cm long). Keep the other cob whole for yourself.
Steam or boil the corn cobs until the kernels are bright yellow and tender, about 4 minutes in the microwave or 10 minutes on the stovetop.
Corn cobs may be served with the kernels on the cob because the gums mash the kernels as baby munches. If you are worried, reduce the choking risk further by shaving the kernels from the cob, then offer the kernel-less cob as a teether and reserve the kernels for another use.
Before serving, spread melted butter and lime zest on the cobs.
How to Serve
Offer the corn cob rounds and let baby self-feed.
If help is needed, hold a corn cob round in the air in front of baby, then let the child take it from you.
Eat your corn cob alongside baby to model how it’s done.
To Store: Steamed corn cobs keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Pediatrician & pediatric gastroenterologist
Pediatrician & pediatric allergist/immunologist
Pediatric occupational therapist, feeding & swallowing specialist, international board-certified lactation consultant
Speech-language pathologist, feeding & swallowing specialist
Registered dietitian and public health/clinical nutritionist
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