When can babies eat okra?
Okra 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 okra
The entire okra plant is edible, however its seed pods are what most recipes call for when you see “okra” on a list of ingredients. Okra is a member of the mallow family, which includes cacao, cotton, and hibiscus—plants that have a tendency to toughen with age. That’s why okra seeds pods are typically harvested shortly after they’re produced by the plant to ensure tenderness and a mild, grassy flavor. With its ability to thrive in a variety of climates, okra is a beloved ingredient used by cooks around the world.
Is okra healthy for babies?
Yes! Okra offers lots of vitamin K (for healthy blood) along with a decent amount of folic acid (for cell growth), vitamin B6 (for metabolism), vitamin C (for immunity). It also contains soluble fiber, which fuels your baby’s gastrointestinal tract.
Is okra a common choking hazard for babies?
Yes. Okra can be a choking hazard for your baby. The seed pods can be stringy and tough—two qualities that increase the risk of choking for young eaters and the seeds themselves can be large and firm. Check out our suggested preparations by age.
Is okra a common allergen?
No. Okra is not a common food allergen, though there have been reports of skin irritation from farm workers handling okra leaves and pods.1 As with any new food, introduce a small quantity at first and watch closely as your baby eats. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity in following servings.
How do you prepare okra for 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: Serve cooked okra whole or sliced in half lengthwise and poke or scrape out any seeds. These shapes are easy for your baby to pick up, hold, and munch on with little assistance. Your baby may not consume much of the okra due to its tough consistency (but great for practice!), so serve okra alongside other foods your baby will be able to consume more easily.
9 to 18 months old: Once your baby develops a pincer grasp (where the thumb and pointer finger meet), serve cooked okra that’s been chopped into half-moon shapes as a finger food.
18 to 24 months old: At this age you can serve okra pretty much any way you like. Try serving the okra alongside other foods your baby can use as a dip, such as yogurt. Toddlers love to dip!
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
Minimize okra’s slimy ooze by adding a splash of lemon juice when cooking.
Recipe: Baked Okra Bites
- Corn meal
- Avocado or high-heat oil of your choice
- White pepper (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Wash a handful of okra. Use a sharp knife to cut off the stems, then chop the okra to create little circles. Cut each circle in half to create a half moon—a shape that minimizes the choking risk.
- Toss the okra in avocado oil or the high-heat oil of your choice. Set aside.
- Add a spoonful of corn meal to a mixing bowl (enough to coat the okra) plus a dash of white pepper if you’d like to add flavor. Stir to combine, then toss in the okra to coat.
- Spread the okra on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until lightly browned and soft.
Okra tastes good with corn, cornmeal (or garbanzo bean flour, which is a healthy swap in) tomato sauce, shrimp, and sausage.
- Matsushita, et al. Occupational dermatoses in farmers growing okra. Retrieved April 15, 2020