Cucumber may be introduced as soon as a baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Check out how to prepare cucumber for your baby's age, as it is a choking hazard.
Need ideas for the best first foods for babies? See our guides.
Native to Southeast Asia, cucumbers are easily grown by commercial farmers and home gardeners alike wherever the weather is sunny and warm. There are so many varieties to try—the small thin-skinned Persian cucumber, the extra-long Japanese cucumber, the round lemon cucumber, the seedless English cucumber, and the ubiquitous Kirby cucumber, to name a few. They range in taste, too; some are sweet, others are bitter, and nearly all are refreshingly cool. Ever wonder about the phrase, “cool as a cucumber”? The inside of a cucumber stays a few degrees below its surroundings because it is mostly made up of water, which takes a lot of energy to heat up.
Cucumber has even earned superstar status in baby-led weaning circles thanks to its cooling effect on little gums and the easy-to-hold shape when sliced into spears. But like many raw vegetables, cucumber is a choking hazard. Check out how to prepare cucumbers safely for baby’s age.
Kalani, 6.5 months, eats cucumber sections.
Cooper, 11 months, explores a cucumber cut into ruler-thin slices.
Callie, 18 months, takes bites from sliced cucumber rounds.
Yes, though there’s no superfood status here: cucumbers consist of 95 percent water!
Cucumbers contain small amounts of carotenoids—nutrients, including some that convert to vitamin A in the body, to support healthy vision. Small amounts of vitamin K, plus a little zinc, which are important factors for healthy bones and brain development, are also present in cucumber. They are also a good source of tannins (to promote wound healing) and phytosterols (to help lower cholesterol).
Note: Cucumbers contain cucurbitacin, an organic compound that can sometimes cause burping and abdominal discomfort. While there’s no reason to delay introducing cucumbers to babies, removing the skin (where the compound is most concentrated), will minimize the cucurbitacin content.
A note on pickles: Many pickled cucumbers (aka “pickles”) are submerged in salt and sugar. If you’d like to introduce pickles, wait until at least 12 months of age and try to choose pickles with the least amount of sodium and those that are sugar-free, or very low in sugar.
Yes. Raw vegetables that are firm or hard in consistency are a choking hazard for babies and toddlers. Pickles, and especially whole gherkins, can also be a choking hazard. 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.
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 cucumbers are rare, though individuals with Oral Allergy Syndrome who are allergic to ragweed may be sensitive to cucumber. 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.
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.
If you feel comfortable with it, offer large cucumber spears with the skin on to make it easy for baby to grab and munch on. Baby will not likely swallow much, potentially just small amounts of the flesh. Alternatively, you can consider cutting the cucumber into long, thin slices, which may yield more intake (but possibly more gagging). Either way, if baby breaks off a too-big piece, stay calm and give them a chance to work the food forward before intervening. You can model how to spit out by sticking out your own tongue while saying “ah” and/or tilt the child forward gently and put your hand underneath the chin to signal that they can spit out the food. At this age, babies have built-in reflexes to help keep food forward on the tongue and learning to spit out pieces of food is a critical skill. No matter what, refrain from sticking your fingers in your baby’s mouth, which can push food further back into the throat.
Offer cucumbers cut into long, wide and thin slices with the skin on or off and serve along a food high in protein or fat for a boost of nutrition. When baby has developed a pincer grasp, consider offering small bite-size pieces in addition to the long, thin slices for biting practice.
At this age, toddlers are able to pick up cucumbers cut into simple rounds. Coach the child to take small bites by modeling taking bites yourself in an exaggerated way. If you are comfortable with their eating skills, this is also a great time to move back up in size to spears, too.
How to prepare cucumbers for toddlers 12 months+
Find out if your baby is ready to start solids on our Readiness to Start Solid Food FAQ page.
2 tablespoons / 30 ML
1 medium cucumber
2 tablespoons (30 ml) Greek yogurt (plain, full fat)
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh finely chopped dill (or ½ teaspoon dried dill)
Wash and slice the cucumber according to our age-specific instructions.
Add the yogurt to a small mixing bowl and whisk in the olive oil for added fat and nutrition. Transfer to baby’s plate or bowl. Sprinkle the dill on top.
Serve: Place 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of dip in a small bowl. Cut the cucumber according to baby’s age (guidelines above). Demonstrate how to dip a cucumber into the dip and eat it. Let the baby go for it! Let the baby’s appetite be your guide - they can eat as much as they like by dipping a cucumber into the dip, or you can preload a spoon and hand them the spoon, or they can dig right in with their hands.
To Store: Store the dip in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
If you are stuck in a puffs and pouches rut, check out our guide, 100 Healthy Snacks for Babies & Toddlers.
The cool, refreshing taste of cucumber pairs well with tangy foods like goat cheese, tomatoes, and vinegar; heart-healthy foods like avocado, sardines, and shellfish; and other fresh fruits like melon and strawberries. Cucumbers easily pick up the flavor of other ingredients so try mixing them with your favorite alliums (chives! garlic! shallots!), fresh or dried herbs (basil! dill! lemongrass!), and earthy spices like ginger, coriander, and cumin.
Pediatrician & pediatric gastroenterologist
Pediatrician & pediatric allergist/immunologist
Pediatric occupational therapist, feeding & swallowing specialist, international board-certified lactation consultant
Speech-language pathologist, feeding & swallowing specialist
Speech-language pathologist & feeding therapist
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