When can babies eat mint?
Fresh herbs like mint may be introduced as soon as your baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.
Background and origins of mint
Mint is an easy herb to grow at home. It’s a perennial, meaning it returns year after year, and the plant flourishes in pots and garden patches alike. In fact, it acts like a weed, quickly taking over whatever space you give it. There are many varieties to try—from chocolate mint to orange mint to pineapple mint. Most recipes call for spearmint, a milder and sweeter variety than peppermint, the kind of mint that gives chewing gum and toothpaste a distinctive menthol flavor.
Is mint healthy for babies?
Yes. With it’s refreshing smell and bright taste, mint has been used medicinally for thousands of years in tinctures and other therapeutic concoctions. It’s believed to aid digestion, so try adding a little minced mint to fruit and yogurt. As a flavor-forward food, a very little amount of mint goes a long way and your baby is not likely to consume enough of the herb to get a ton of nutritional value from it. Nonetheless, mint does contain folate, iron, and vitamins A, C, and K.
Is mint a common choking hazard for babies?
When chopped, mint should not pose any significant risk, though it’s common for flecks of the leaves to cling to the back of the throat, which can cause a bit of coughing. If this happens, offer your baby a drink from an open cup to help wash it down. Drinking from an open cup (rather than a straw cup) tends to be more helpful in these situations.
Is mint a common allergen?
No, though mint allergies are not unheard of. If your child is sensitive to oregano or thyme, however, take care when introducing mint as these plants are closely related.1
As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity of mint for the first couple of servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future mealtimes.
How do you prepare mint for babies with baby-led weaning?
Every baby develops on their own timeline. The preparation suggestions below are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional, nutritionist or dietitian, or expert in pediatric feeding and eating. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
6 to 12 months old: Incorporate finely minced mint into patties, such as lamb or lentil burgers. Add mint to relishes or sauces to serve alongside fish, grains, or steamed vegetables. Mix into creamy foods like ricotta or yogurt for added flavor.
12 to 18 months old: Mix finely minced mint into bean and lentil dishes. Sprinkle on buttered peas, roasted potatoes, fruit salad, andcubed watermelon.
18 to 24 months old: This is a great age to serve mint with grain salads like quinoa and other whole grains as your toddler becomes more adept at eating these foods. Incorporate mint into pesto and other sauces and dips, such as a garlicky, minty yogurt. Add to smoothies and refreshing drinks like watermelon-mint agua fresca.
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
Treat a bundle of mint like a bouquet of flowers to extend its shelf life. Clip a little off the stem end and place in a cup. Add water until the stem end is submerged in water, and store on the countertop. The mint will last for a week or so, and may even sprout roots in the water.
Recipe: Watermelon with Goat Cheese & Mint
- 2 cups cubed or crushed watermelon
- 2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
- Fresh mint
- Add the watermelon to a mixing bowl.
- Sprinkle the goat cheese on the watermelon.
- Finely mince a few leaves of fresh mint and add to the bowl with the watermelon.
- Mix gently before serving.
Add mint to any fruit or vegetable dish for bright flavor. The zippy herb tastes particularly delicious with spring vegetables like asparagus, fava beans, and peas, as well as artichokes, avocado, potatoes. It also balances the heartiness of red meats like beef, elk, venison, and of course, lamb—a beloved pairing. Try mixing mint with other herbs like basil and parsley in salads, salsas, and creamy dishes like whipped ricotta, soft goat cheese spread, and yogurt.
- Szema, A. and Barnett, T. (2011). Allergic reaction to mint leads to asthma. Allergy Rhinol. (Providence), 2(1), 43–45. Providence, RI: Oceanside Publications. doi: 10.2500/ar.2011.2.0008. Retrieved May 25, 2020