Cucumber

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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Poop Friendly:Whether a food has qualities that promote healthy pooping patterns. Yes
Common Allergen: No
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a cucumber, cut in half, before being prepared for babies starting solid food

When can babies eat cucumber?

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.

Background and origins of cucumbers

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.

Is cucumber healthy for babies?

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).1

Note: Cucumbers contain cucurbitacin, an organic compound that can sometimes cause burping and abdominal discomfort.2 3 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.4

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.

Is cucumber a common choking hazard for babies?

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.

Is cucumber a common allergen?

No. Allergies to cucumbers are rare, though individuals with Oral Allergy Syndrome who are allergic to ragweed may be sensitive to cucumber.5 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 do you prepare cucumber for babies with baby-led weaning?

6 to 9 months old: 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.

9 to 12 months old: 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.

12 to 24 months old: 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.

a hand holding two large cucumber spears for babies 6 months+
Long cucumber spears with the skin still on for babies 6 months+
a hand holding four long, very thin, wide slices of cucumber for babies 9 months+
Ruler-thin slices of cucumber for babies 9 months+
a hand holding four cucumber rounds for children 12 months+
Thin cucumber rounds for children 12 months+

Find out if your baby is ready to start solids on our Readiness to Start Solid Food FAQ page.

Recipe: Cucumbers & Dilly Dip

slices of cucumber with a side of Greek yogurt mixed with flaxseed oil, topped with fresh dill

Serving Size: 2 tablespoons / 30 ML
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Age: 6 months+

Ingredients

  • 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)

Directions

  1. Wash and slice the cucumber according to our age-specific instructions.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Flavor Pairings

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.

Reviewed by

E. Cerda, MSN, CNS, LDN

A. Gilbaugh, RD, CNSC

K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT

S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)

R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist

  1. Rolnik A, Olas, B. (2020). Vegetables from the Cucurbitaceae family and their products: Positive effect on human healthNutrition, 78, 110788. DOI: 10.1016/j.nut.2020.110788. Retrieved April 27, 2021
  2. Rolnik A, Olas, B. (2020). Vegetables from the Cucurbitaceae family and their products: Positive effect on human healthNutrition, 78, 110788. DOI: 10.1016/j.nut.2020.110788. Retrieved April 27, 2021
  3. Lerner, R. Bitter cucumbers a temporary problem. Purdue University. Retrieved April 27, 2021
  4. Myers, Jim. (2010). Cucumber bitterness explained. OSU Extension Service. Retrieved April 27, 2021
  5. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) or Pollen Fruit Syndrome (PFS). Retrieved April 21, 2021