Eggplant

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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Common Allergen: No
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Introducing eggplant to babies

When can babies eat eggplant?

Your baby is ready to eat eggplant as soon as they are ready for solids, which is generally around 6 months old. Serving eggplant can introduce your baby to bitter tastes—a huge boon for developing your baby’s palate. Eggplants are widely considered vegetables even though they are technically a fruit. Their spongy flesh soaks up liquids, making it a nice partner for tomato sauce, garlic oil, and cheese.

Zeke, 11 months, eats roasted eggplant for the first time.

Is eggplant healthy for my baby?

Compared to other fruits and vegetables, eggplant does not top the charts in nutrition. It does contain low quantities of potassium, vitamin A and folate, and reseachers are just learning about the antioxidant and DNA protective qualities of eggplant varieties. There are many varieties of eggplants, and they don’t differ much in nutritional value, so explore them all. Italian and white eggplant varieties tend to be less bitter and a touch sweeter so those may be good options if your baby is wrinkling their nose at the taste. Experiment to determine which varieties tastes best to you and your baby. Think of eggplant as one option to expand your baby’s palate, and serve it with iron-rich and nutrient-dense foods to boost the meal’s nutritional value. 

If your baby has recently had an allergic reaction, avoid serving eggplant until their body has adjusted. Eggplant is high in histamines, the chemicals released by our cells when our immune system detects harmful substances in our bodies. Histamine responses may mimic allergy symptoms, such as a rash, sneezing, or a runny nose. While not a common food allergen itself, eggplant may stimulate your baby’s allergies if they recently had an allergic reaction or if they are sensitive to histamines.

Is eggplant a choking hazard for my baby?

While virtually any food can pose a choking risk if not cut or prepared properly for babies, eggplant is not a common choking hazard. That said, eggplant skin can pose a risk, so consider removing it prior to serving.

To safely serve eggplant to your baby, cook the eggplant to soften it, then mash it up or serve it in strips—similar in size to a zucchini stick.

Is eggplant a common allergen?

While eggplant is not on the lists of common food allergens, they do cause itching or tingling in the mouth for some people with Oral Allergy Syndrome. Eggplant is also high in histamine, the natural chemical that is responsible for allergic reactions. While not a common food allergen itself, if your baby has recently had an allergic reaction, you may want to avoid eggplant and other high histamine foods. 

How do you prepare eggplant for babies with baby-led weaning?

6 to 12 months old: Roasted eggplant sticks (recipe below) will be easiest for your baby to hold (your baby will scrape the flesh away from the skin). though finger painting with baba ganoush will probably be more fun! If a recipe calls for salting the eggplant to sweat the moisture out, just skip that step. 

12 to 24 months old: Explore a variety of cuts, textures, and preparations of cooked eggplant. At this age there is no need to refrain from salting the eggplant to sweat it before cooking. Eggplant can be easily prepared as either a dip (like baba ganoush), or sliced into sticks and then roasted or sautéed.

★ProTip: Many eggplant recipes call for salting the eggplant prior to cooking. When cooking for babies, it is best to hold the salt.

Recipe: Eggplant Sticks for Babies

Ingredients

  • 1 Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil

Directions

  1. Cut the stem and base from the eggplant.
  2. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the skin. Slice the eggplant lengthwise, then cut the halves lengthwise. Continue cutting the sections until you have sticks about the width of two adult fingers.
  3. Set the raw eggplant sticks on a paper towel, and let them sit for about 30 minutes to drain any bitter juices. (If you don’t have time, just skip this step and all will be okay!)
  4. While the eggplant is resting, add a generous pour of olive oil to a wide, flat skillet pan, and place over medium heat. Add one clove of garlic. Once the oil begins to bubble, reduce the heat to low and cook gently for a couple minutes to infuse the garlic flavor in the oil.
  5. Remove the garlic clove from the oil, and add the eggplant sticks so they are evenly space in the pan. Cook on medium heat and flip the sticks every couple minutes, until the eggplant is tender, but not limp.
  6. Remove the eggplant from the pan and let it cool completely before serving.

Flavor Pairings

Eggplant pairs well with garlic, tomato sauce, cheese, and sesame, among other flavors. Once you have safely introduced eggplant on its own, try making baba ganoush, which contains sesame, a common food allergen. As with all food allergens, start in small quantities and work your way up to larger portions.