Okra

Food Type:
Age Suggestion: 6 months +
Nutrition Rating:How nutritious a food is with a focus on the specific nutrients babies need for optimal growth. The more nutritious a food, the more stars it will have.
Prep Time:How much time a food takes to prepare safely for a baby. The more time-consuming a food is to prepare safely, the more clocks it will have.
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Common Allergen: No
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3 okra pods on a table before being prepared for babies starting solid food

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.

Kalani, 9 months, eats okra.
Max, 15 months, eats okra pieces. To decrease the risk of choking, you can serve in half moon pieces.

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.

For more information, visit our section on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with common choking hazards.

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?

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

several diced fresh okra rings and a whole raw okra, next to a pile of small half-circles of cooked okra coated in cornmeal

Ingredients

  • Okra
  • Corn meal
  • Avocado or high-heat oil of your choice
  • White pepper (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. 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.
  3. Toss the okra in avocado oil or the high-heat oil of your choice. Set aside.
  4. 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.
  5. Spread the okra on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until lightly browned and soft.

Flavor Pairings

Okra tastes good with corn, cornmeal (or garbanzo bean flour, which is a healthy swap in) tomato sauce, shrimp, and sausage.

  1. Matsushita, et al. Occupational dermatoses in farmers growing okra. Retrieved April 15, 2020