It’s best to wait until after your baby’s first birthday to serve food with miso and even then, to limit consumption. This is because miso is extremely high in sodium, which in excess can lead to hypernatremia, a condition of having too much salt in the blood, which affects body-water balance. Symptoms of hypernatremia may exacerbate into increased heart rate, muscle spasms, and possibly more severe conditions such as coma, brain damage or even death. Early and excessive exposure to sodium is thought to play a role in hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.
Miso is a deliciously salty paste that’s been used in Japanese cooking for centuries and increasingly shows up in all sorts of foods—from bread and baked goods, to soups and stews, to salads and pickles, even pizza! Miso is typically made of salt, soybeans, and kōji—the Japanese word for Aspergillus oryzae fungus which breaks down the beans into fats and sugars that give the paste a distinctive umami taste. The paste ranges in color from deep red to rusty orange to earthy brown to pale yellow depending on fermentation time and ingredients. Some miso contains grains like barley or rice, and there’s a growing trend of making miso with alternatives to soybeans, such as adzuki beans and chickpeas.
While your toddler’s miso consumption needs to be kept in check, fermented foods can be a terrific way to expand your child’s palette. Check out our serving suggestions.
Callie, 13 months, eats miso tofu for the first time.
Max, 15 months, tastes miso for the first time with cooked tofu.
It’s complicated. On one hand, miso offers lots of protein, plenty of nutrients like vitamins B and K, and a robust dose of probiotics—beneficial bacteria that foster a strong gut. On the other hand, miso is exceptionally high in sodium, which in excess, is unhealthy at best. If you want to offer your child food prepared with miso, take care to minimize the amount of sodium during other meals that week.
Miso is typically used as a flavor enhancer in dishes. It should not pose any choking risk when mixed into other foods, though the foods it is mixed with could certainly pose a risk.
For more information, visit our section on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with common choking hazards.
Yes. Miso is typically made of soybeans—one of the most common food allergens, especially in babies and young children. As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a very small amount to your baby during the first couple servings and watch closely. If there are no signs of an allergic reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future servings. Note that reactions do not always occur on the first exposure.
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.
Avoid due to sodium levels. A small taste of mommy’s miso soup or dad’s tofu is fine, but be forewarned: your babe may want more!
At this age you may small amounts of miso in your cooking. Explore Japanese recipes, try adding a little miso to pan fried tofu cubes, cooked eggplant, or even just a thin smear of miso butter on toast.
Miso soup time! If your toddler is struggling with self feeding soup, encourage your child to sip directly from the bowl. You may also thicken soups by adding some cooked rice or mashed tofu.
White miso is the mildest and versatile, while red miso is the saltiest. If you’re new to miso, start with white and explore how it enhances your food.
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
1 package extra firm tofu
1 teaspoon white miso
2 tablespoons peanut oil, avocado oil or coconut oil
Pat the tofu with a paper towel or tea cloth to dry it. On a cutting board, cut the block into bite-size squares. Set aside.
Place miso and 1 tablespoon of oil in a mixing bowl and blend with a fork into a smooth sauce. Add the tofu and gently mix to coat in the sauce. Let rest in the marinade.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a nonstick pan on medium-high heat. Add the tofu and stir gently with a spatula ever few minutes until golden, about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool. Serve as a finger food or with a fork.
* This recipe contains common food allergens: peanut and soy. Be sure to introduce each allergen on its own before serving. If your baby is allergic to peanuts, try substituting the peanut oil with avocado or coconut oil.
Miso is versatile! Think of it as a substitute for salt in recipes—and try working it into marinades and sauces to accompany proteins like chicken, fish, or tofu; meaty vegetables like eggplant; nuts like cashews or peanuts; flavor enhancers like citrus, garlic, seaweed, or sesame; and sweet fruits like apples, dates, nectarines, or pears.
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