When can babies eat ghee?
Ghee may be introduced as soon as a baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Ghee is a dairy product, and dairy is a common allergen, so take care when introducing ghee and other dairy products like cow’s milk, which should be reserved until after the first birthday. See Milk FAQs for more information.
Ghee can sometimes contain honey, which is associated with an increased risk of infant botulism—a rare but potentially fatal condition caused by Clostridium botulinum spores, which colonize a baby’s gut and produce toxins that attack the nervous system.1 2 Read labels closely and look for ghee with few ingredients on the label, ideally, just “clarified butter” or “milk fat”, and, in some cases, “lactic acid.” Avoid ghee that contains added salt, sugar, or honey.
Ghee or butter – which is better for babies?
Both butter and ghee are fine foods to serve to babies as part of a balanced diet. In fact, ghee is among the first foods introduced to babies in some parts of the world. Rich in fat and flavor, ghee is a type of clarified butter, or in other words, milk fat that has been rendered of milk solids and water – a process that deepens the nutty flavor and extends the shelf life of the dairy product.
Ghee originated in South Asia, where it has held special significance in ceremonial practices and everyday cooking for centuries. Cooks use ghee because its high smoke point (482 Fahrenheit or 250 Celsius) makes it a great alternative to cooking oils that turn rancid at high temperatures. It also enhances taste; simply stirring melted ghee into a dish adds delicious flavor. For example, in India, the world’s largest producer of ghee, the staple food seasons myriad dishes, from celebratory biryani to weekday dals to khichdi, a hearty blend of moong dal, rice, and spices toasted in ghee.
Is ghee healthy for babies?
Yes. Ghee has a good amount of vitamin A for vision, skin, and immunity and traces of vitamin E to power a baby’s growth and development. Ghee is also packed with saturated fat – the most abundant type of fat in breast milk. In recent years, saturated fat has been scrutinized for its association with heart disease in adults, but research shows that it has its place as a part of a balanced diet, and that it may have a more neutral impact on the heart than previously thought.3 4
Wondering if you need to buy organic ghee? Instead of worrying about organic versus non-organic dairy, use ghee that is available to you and try diversifying the fat in a baby’s diet by occasionally swapping ghee for oil, such as avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil, peanut oil, or sesame oil, which are all high in healthy fats. Rest assured that ghee made from either organic and non-organic cow’s milk delivers plenty of nutrients to nourish a growing a baby. What is most important is balance: serving an array of fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods with healthy fats and proteins is best for growing babies and toddlers.
★Tip: Ghee can be kept in the fridge, where it solidifies and lasts for at least 1 year or in a pantry at room temperature for up to 6 months.5 Ghee may melt at room temperature, but it is still good as long as it doesn’t smell rancid.
How much ghee can babies and toddlers eat?
For children under the age of two, fat intake should not be restricted because it provides plenty of energy to fuel the rapid growth of their brains and bodies.6 7 The key is to offer ghee as a part of a balanced diet – and let baby lead the way on how much food is eaten.
Is ghee a common choking hazard for babies?
No. Ghee is not a common choking hazard, though, in theory, an individual can choke on any food. As always, make sure to create a safe eating environment, stay within arm’s reach of baby at mealtime, and check out our age-appropriate serving suggestions. For more information on choking, visit our section on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.
Is ghee a common allergen?
Technically, yes. Ghee is often made from cow’s milk, which is a common food allergen in young children and accounts for about 20% of all childhood food allergies.8 Ghee made from milk of other mammals (such as buffalo, goat, sheep, or yak) may provoke similar allergic reactions to ghee made from cow’s milk.9
The good news is that milk allergy often resolves with time; research shows that the majority of children with cow’s milk allergy will outgrow it by age 6, and that many babies with milder symptoms of milk protein allergy (which can show up as painless blood in stool) are able to successfully reintroduce cow’s milk as early as the first birthday, with the guidance of the appropriate pediatric health professional.10 Ghee is thought to be less allergenic than other dairy products since the milk solids (or proteins, which promote milk allergy) are removed. However, production methods can vary, so ghee may not be 100% free of milk solids. Talk to an allergist for more information on this topic.
More good news: children with lactose intolerance can often eat ghee because it has minimal lactose content.11
If you suspect your baby may be allergic to dairy products, consult an allergist before introducing ghee. As with all allergens, start by serving a scant quantity on its own at first. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the amount served over future meals.
How do you introduce ghee to babies with baby-led weaning?
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.
6 to 9 months old: Stir a scoop of ghee into baby’s food, such as cooked vegetables or porridge. A little goes a long way! If using salted ghee, offer in moderation to avoid excess sodium to baby’s diet. Plant-based babies can opt for oils such as olive and coconut for an extra boost of fats. At this age, you can also offer a salt- and sugar-free pancake or other baked good made with ghee.
9 to 12 months old: Continue adding a small scoop or so of ghee to baby’s meals. As the body grows and activity and appetite increase, baby’s intake of ghee may naturally rise as a result. Fats, such as those from ghee, provide an excellent source of energy for growing babies. Try offering ghee on toast, vegetables cooked in ghee, or ghee mixed into rice or other grains.
12 to 24 months old: Play around with ghee as a condiment! Explored adding spices like cumin, mustard seed, or turmeric to ghee – an excellent way to infuse more flavor into meals and expand a child’s repertoire of flavors.
Dinnertime approaching and all out of ideas? Our dinner guide has 100 easy baby- and toddler-friendly recipes to try.
Recipe: Rice Flavored with Ghee and Spice
Yield: ½ cup (100 grams)
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Age: 6 months+
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) ghee
- 1 pinch ground cinnamon or spice of choice (optional)
- ½ cup (100 grams) cooked Basmati rice
- ½ cup mashed vegetables, unsweetened whole milk yogurt, or fortified plant-based yogurt (optional)
This recipe contains a common allergen: dairy (ghee and yogurt). Only serve to a child after this allergen has been safely introduced.
- Warm the ghee in a small pot set on medium heat.
- When the ghee shimmers, add the rice and stir to coat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is coated and lightly toasted, about 2 minutes.
- If you like, stir in the spice.
- Scoop some rice into the child’s bowl. Exact serving size is variable. Let a child’s appetite determine how much is eaten.
- If you like, mix the mashed vegetables or yogurt into the rice, which can make the food easier to scoop. You can also form a rice ball which will be easier for baby to pick up.
- Serve and let the child self-feed by scooping with hands. If you’d like to encourage the use of a utensil, simply pre-load a spoon and rest it next to the bowl for the child to try to pick. Alternatively, pass it in the air for the child to grab from you.
To Store: Cooked rice keeps in an air-tight container in the fridge for 2 days or in the freezer for 1 month.
Ghee adds creamy, nutty flavor to foods. Use ghee to add richness to cooked fruits and vegetables, toast grains and seeds, and flavor proteins like beef, chicken, chicken liver, egg, pork, salmon, steak, trout, or venison. Try mixing seasonings like fresh herbs and spices into ghee as a way to introduce new flavors.
J. Truppi, MSN, CNS
V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP
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
- Wikström, S., & Holst, E. (2017). Spädbarnsbotulism – skäl att inte ge honung till barn under ett år [Infant botulism – why honey should be avoided for children up to one year]. Lakartidningen, 114, ELMF. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
- Cox, N., Hinkle, R. (2002). Infant Botulism. American Family Physician, 65(7), 1388-1393. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
- Micha, R., Mozaffarian, D. (2010). Saturated fat and cardiometabolic risk factors, coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes: a fresh look at the evidence. Lipids, 45(10), 893–905. DOI:10.1007/s11745-010-3393-4. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
- Pimpin, L., Wu, J. H., Haskelberg, H., Del Gobbo, L., Mozaffarian, D. (2016). Is Butter Back? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Butter Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, and Total Mortality. PloS one, 11(6), e0158118. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0158118. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
- United States Department of Agriculture. FoodKeeper App: Ghee. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
- Uauy, R., Dangour, A. D. (2009). Fat and fatty acid requirements and recommendations for infants of 0-2 years and children of 2-18 years. Annals of nutrition & metabolism, 55(1-3), 76–96. DOI:10.1159/000228997. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. (n.d.) Retrieved July 9, 2021.
- Warren, C.M., Jhaveri, S., Warrier, M.R., Smith, B., Gupta, R.S. (2013). The epidemiology of milk allergy in US children. Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunolology, 110(5),370-374. DOI:10.1016/j.anai.2013.02.016. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
- El-Agamy, Elsayed. (2007). The challenge of cow milk protein allergy. Small Ruminant Research, 68(1-2), 64-72. DOI:10.1016/j.smallrumres.2006.09.016. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
- Mukkada, V. (2019). GI Kids : Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy. North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN). Retrieved May 26, 2021.
- Portnoi, P. A., MacDonald, A. (2015). The lactose and galactose content of milk fats and suitability for galactosaemia. Molecular genetics and metabolism reports, 5, 42–43. DOI:10.1016/j.ymgmr.2015.10.001. Retrieved May 27, 2021.