Garlic may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months old. Many people believe that bland foods are best for babies, but there is no evidence to support this cultural myth. In fact, people around the world introduce alliums like garlic and other flavorful foods early in their solids journey. One study even found that babies nurse longer and ingest more breast milk from mothers who have ingested garlic.
Garlic is native to Central Asia, where it has long been used for a variety of medicinal purposes—from improving respiration to alleviating diarrhea. In cooking, most recipes calling for “garlic” are referring to the aromatic white cloves that make up the bulb. The cloves can be prepared and used in many ways, from raw to roasted to pickled. The stalk of fresh garlic (called the “scape”) is edible, too. The long, curly green stems pop up at greenmarkets at the beginning of the growing season, when farmers cut them in an effort to prevent the plants from growing the scapes instead of plumping the bulb. Scapes are considered to be less assertive and more herbal than the cloves, making them a good alternative when cooking for loved ones who are sensitive to traditional garlic cloves. Garlic scapes also keep for weeks when stored in the fridge.
★Tip: Garlic in its whole, bulb form does not like humidity. To extend your garlic bulb’s life, keep it out of the fridge and store it in a paper bag in a cool, dry area – such as the pantry.
Eunoia, 6 months, eats roasted garlic on a piece of baguette
Hawii, 11 months, eats roasted garlic
Callie, 13 months, eats garlicky bread
Absolutely. Garlic is rich in nutrients that are critical for babies at this stage in their development, notably vitamins B6, C, and calcium, as well as copper, manganese, phosphorus, and selenium. What’s more is that garlic varieties abound with phytonutrients like sulfur-based compounds including allicin, ajoene, alliin, and many more. Collectively, these nutrients offer anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anticancer effects; plus, garlic may promote healthy cholesterol levels and heart health, as determined in plenty of studies. Garlic – both raw and cooked – also is particularly beneficial for the gut due to its natural prebiotic content – in other words, fuel for beneficial gut bacteria. When pinched for time, garlic powder or granulated garlic is a totally appropriate alternative for flavoring foods, and still offers plenty of nutrients.
When it comes to first offering garlic to baby, consider starting slow and small. Sometimes too much of a prebiotic-rich food all at once can lead to gassiness and discomfort. And if you come across black garlic, buy it! Black garlic is aged garlic and contains a number of beneficial antioxidants. In general, regular intake of garlic has a host of benefits, so don’t let its pungent flavor deter you from experimenting – baby’s palate also may thank you.
No. Unless a child manages to get a whole clove of raw garlic off the counter, garlic, including whole roasted garlic cloves, should not pose any unusual risk. That said, in theory an individual can choke on any food. 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.
No. Allergic reactions to garlic are rare, but not unheard of and, notably, when they have occurred, they have tended to be severe. People who are sensitive to onions or other members of the lily family may also be sensitive to garlic. Of note, some allergens in foods in this family are sensitive to heat, meaning that well-cooked garlic might be well-tolerated in an individual who is sensitive to raw garlic. Individuals with Oral Allergy Syndrome (also called pollen fruit syndrome), and in particular, those with sensitivities to grass pollen and mugwort pollen (a weed) may also be sensitive to garlic. Oral Allergy Syndrome typically results in short-lived itching or burning in the mouth and is unlikely to result in a dangerous reaction. Skin contact with raw garlic has been associated with the development of hand eczema.
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.
Grate fresh garlic cloves to create a paste, briefly saute the paste to mellow its strong flavor, and mix the paste into other soft, scoopable foods, like mashed vegetables, beans, lentils, or grain dishes. Depending on baby's comfort level, start with small amounts to minimize the possibility of digestive upset and allow baby to get used to the flavor. Alternatively, feel free to use granulated garlic or powder to add flavor to baby's meals.
Continue to use fresh, cooked garlic, grated or finely chopped, in baby's dishes. The options are endless: in marinades, mixed with roasted or steamed vegetables, roasted and mixed into hummus, or sautéed in butter or oil for a simple pasta sauce.
Continue using garlic liberally in dishes and explore more garlic-forward recipes, such as a garlic scape pesto, black garlic bread, or aglio e olio – a garlicky pasta dish. For toddlers who love the taste of garlic, feel free to experiment with very small amounts of fresh, grated raw garlic spread onto or mixed in other foods. Make sure to let them know to expect a strong flavor before they take a bite!
For more information on how to store garlic safely for the whole family, check out our FAQs here.
1 ¼ cup
5 minutes active, 40 minutes total
1 head of garlic
1 tablespoon (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 sticks (1 cup / 230 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
Cut the top off the head of garlic, just enough to expose the garlic cloves. Place the head of garlic on a square of aluminum foil and drizzle the exposed cloves with oil. Wrap the foil around the garlic and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the cloves are totally tender and light golden brown.
When cool enough to handle, squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skin and transfer it to a large bowl. Use a fork to mash the garlic to a paste, then stir in the butter.
Serve: Mash into potatoes, plantains, or sweet potatoes. Stir into scrambled eggs. Spread on toast. Exact serving size is variable. Let the child's appetite determine how much is eaten.
To Store: Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Freeze small portions in an ice cube tray, then pop the cubes into a bag for up to 5 months. To use, allow a cube to come to room temperature in the refrigerator, or throw straight onto a hot baking sheet or skillet and stir into roasted vegetables, etc.
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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