Mustard seed may be introduced into meals as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.
For more on the condiment, see our Mustard page.
Mustard seeds are the dried fruits of a family of herbs that originated in Asia, Europe, and Northern Africa. Several varieties are widely available: black mustard seed, brown mustard seed, and white mustard seed. Each variety is packed with distinctive flavor that adds heat and a bittersweet taste to savory foods, and all three are often used as whole dried fruits, cracked seeds, ground-up into powder, or pressed to make oil. They are also ground up to form a paste that is the base of mustard the condiment. Also known as rai and sarson, mustard seeds are used in a wide variety of dishes, from pickles to salads to tadka—a finishing seasoning of spices tempered in ghee or oil.
Yes. Mustard seed is generally recognized as safe in amounts typically used in cooking. Mustard seed essential oil should be avoided for babies, as limited research is available on its safety for infants and young children.
Yes. Mustard seed offers small amounts of various vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It also contains plant compounds like glucosinolates, which may have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anticancer properties.
Mustard seed essential oil should be avoided for babies, as limited research is available on its safety for infants and young children.
No. Neither mustard seeds nor finely ground mustard poses a high risk of choking, although whole mustard seeds could theoretically pose an aspiration risk (when something is breathed into the airway, but does not block it). To minimize the risk, do not serve loose mustard seeds on their own; instead, mix whole mustard seeds into sauces, soups, stews, or another dish. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meals. For more information on choking, visit our sections on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.
No, not in the United States and other regions, but mustard seed is designated as a common allergen in Canada, Europe, and India. In fact, it is considered the 4th most common food allergen in France, where mustard is a common ingredient in cooking. Note that certain spice blends that feature mustard seed may also contain other common food allergens, so make sure to read labels thoroughly. Mustard allergy has been reported to result in a variety allergic reactions, ranging from rashes to respiratory and severe life-threatening reactions (anaphylaxis).
Mustard seed is a part of the cruciferous vegetable family and individuals who are allergic or sensitive to other members of the cruciferous family, such as kale and broccoli, could theoretically be sensitive to mustard seed as well. Individuals with Oral Allergy Syndrome (also known as pollen food allergy syndrome), and in particular, those with sensitivities to mugwort pollen, may also be sensitive to mustard seed. Oral Allergy Syndrome typically results in short-lived itching, tingling, or burning in the mouth and is unlikely to result in a dangerous reaction.
Spices can also cause reactions similar to allergic symptoms. For example, inhaling a puff of mustard powder can irritate the nasal passageways and trigger sneezing and coughing, but this response may not necessarily be an allergic reaction.
Food that contains mustard may cause a harmless rash around the mouth while baby eats or may cause or worsen diaper rash. Applying a thin layer of barrier ointment (such as pure petroleum jelly or a plant-based oil/wax balm) to baby’s face and bottom before mealtime can help prevent contact rashes.
As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity for the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.
No. Mustard seed is not generally considered to be a food that directly helps with pooping. However, spices like mustard seed play a role in supporting baby’s rapidly developing gut microbiome (the bacteria and microorganisms in baby’s intestines), which can help support healthy digestion overall. Mustard seeds may be visible in baby’s poop after a meal, and this is totally normal, as many seeds are naturally resistant to digestion. Remember that pooping patterns can vary significantly from baby to baby. If you have concerns about baby’s pooping and digestive function, check out our page on knowing when to worry about baby’s poop and, as always, talk to your pediatric healthcare provider.
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience.
Mix a small amount of mustard powder into chutney, dal, or masala. Alternatively, use whole mustard seeds to make pickles or cook them into sauces, stir fries, and other dishes to share with baby.
Cook with whole mustard seeds and ground mustard as desired in meals to share with the child. Use it in combination with other ingredients to create flavorful sauces, marinades, pickles, spice rubs, and much more.
Look up any food and how to serve it for baby’s age on the Solid Starts app.
3 c (720 ml) florets + 1 ½ c (360 ml) raita
This recipe contains a common allergen: dairy (yogurt). Only serve to a child after this allergen has been safely introduced.
Prepare the Raita
Shred the cucumber.
Finely chop the cilantro leaves and tender stems.
Mix the cucumber and cilantro into the yogurt. Store in the refrigerator until mealtime.
Prepare the Cauliflower
Place a sheet tray in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 F (204 C).
Peel and finely chop the garlic.
Grind the seeds into powder.
Combine the garlic, spices, and olive oil in a mixing bowl. Add the cauliflower to the mixing bowl, then stir to coat the florets.
Remove the hot sheet tray from the oven. Evenly space the florets on the tray, drizzling any remaining oil and spices from the bowl over the top.
Roast the florets for 10 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven, flip the florets, and continue to roast until they start to brown, about 10 minutes.
Set aside some florets and raita for the child, then season the rest with salt to taste for yourself.
Serve the Florets
Offer cauliflower florets and raita and let the child self-feed.
If help is needed, swipe a floret in raita and hold it in the air in front of the child, then let them grab it from you.
Eat some cauliflower florets and raita alongside the child to model how it’s done.
Spiced cauliflower and raita work well alongside a protein and grain, such as stewed chickpeas and quinoa, chicken kabobs and rice, or stewed fish and millet.
Chop up leftover cauliflower to mix into egg strips, fried rice, or savory pancakes.
To Store: Leftover cauliflower and raita keep in airtight containers in the refrigerator for 3 days. They do not freeze well.
Pediatrician & pediatric allergist/immunologist
Pediatric occupational therapist, feeding & swallowing specialist, international board-certified lactation consultant
Speech-language pathologist, feeding & swallowing specialist
Pediatric registered dietitian & nutritionist
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