When can babies eat oyster mushrooms?
Babies may be introduced to edible mushrooms as soon as they are ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.
Background and origins of oyster mushrooms
More than 2,000 known species of edible fungi grow on our planet, and oyster mushrooms are one of most widely cultivated.1 Pleurotus ostreatus (the fancy Latin name for the oyster mushroom) grow wild on decaying trees in forests during cool, wet months, but the majority of the beauties that you see for sale at farmers markets and grocery stores are cultivated indoors under controlled conditions all year long.
Lore suggests that the oyster mushroom gets its name from its shell-shaped cap and the steely grey color of one of the most widely available varieties. In fact, there are more than 200 species of oyster mushrooms, and they come in a spectrum of colors: white, cream, yellow, brown, blue, and even pink.2 Some even say the oyster mushroom tastes like seafood or anise, but most that we’ve tried have a mild, earthy, and ever-so-slightly sweet flavor.
Can babies eat raw mushrooms?
Yes. However, raw mushrooms can be difficult for little tummies to digest. Cooking mushrooms eases digestion, plus heating the fungi helps increase the bioavailability of the nutrients, meaning your baby’s body will absorb more of the mushroom’s goodness.3
Are oyster mushrooms healthy for babies?
Absolutely. Mushrooms have a superpower: they offer nutrients that are found in both plants and animals. Oyster mushrooms have lots of protein and fiber, plus they’re one of the only plant sources of vitamin D, which helps your baby absorb calcium to grow healthy bones. Oyster mushrooms also have lots of B vitamins, copper, folate, iron, and zinc—all critical nutrients that babies need to thrive. To top it off, oyster mushrooms also possess potent immune-boosting properties.4
Always purchase mushrooms from a trusted source to minimize potential toxic exposure and the accidental ingestion of poisonous mushrooms. Fresh oyster mushrooms will have a bright, not dull hue; firm, springy caps; and no excess moistness or dark spots.
Are oyster mushrooms a common choking hazard for babies?
No. That said, an individual can choke on any food so be sure to create a safe eating environment and always stay close to your baby during mealtime.
Are oyster mushrooms a common allergen?
No. As an edible food, oyster mushroom allergy is rare.5 However, the spores released by oyster mushrooms are allergenic and can cause problems for people with respiratory issues or sensitivities to airborne allergens.6
How do you prepare oyster mushrooms 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 oyster mushroom caps sautéed in a healthy oil such as olive or avocado oil. If your baby breaks off a large piece, stay calm and let your baby try to work the food forward independently. At this early stage, babies have some muscle memory of their tongue thrust reflex that should naturally push some food forward but also a very strong gag reflex to protect them from food that is too big or not chewed.
9 to 12 months old: At this stage, your baby’s pincer grasp (where the thumb and pointer finger meet) is developing, which makes it a great time to offer smaller pieces of food. Serve bite-size pieces of cooked oyster mushroom or mushroom folded into other dishes, like lentils, pasta, or quinoa. Incorporate mushrooms as often as you like—they’re super healthy for babies!
12 to 24 months old: Offer cooked or raw oyster mushrooms and explore using them liberally in recipes that call for soy sauce (as a replacement for the salty condiment) or meat. The flavor and texture of mushrooms is similar to fatty meats, making the fungi an ideal substitute in most recipes.
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
Commercially grown mushrooms contain less vitamin D than wild-harvested fungi, but exposing them to just 15 minutes of sunlight can dramatically increase levels of this vital nutrient.7 Bring on the sun!
Recipe: Oyster Mushroom Ramen
- Oyster mushrooms
- Olive oil
- Ramen noodles, Chinese noodles, or Japanese curly noodles
- Parmesan cheese (12 months+)
- Bring a large pot of water to boil.
- While the water is heating, prepare the mushrooms by cutting the caps and stems from their solid base if there is one. Discard the base.
- Peel and finely chop four cloves of garlic.
- Place a large skillet on medium heat, and add a splash of olive oil. Lower the heat, and add the garlic. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and stir to coat. Cook until the mushrooms soften, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat.
- Open 2 to 3 packets of the noodles (setting aside any flavor packets for another use). Once the water is boiling, add the noodles and cook until soft, about 7 minutes. Drain.
- Melt 1 stick of butter in the pot that was used to cook the noodles. Add the noodles, garlic, and mushrooms and stir to combine. Add some Parmesan cheese if your baby has reached 12 months of age; the salty cheese has too much sodium for younger eaters.
- Place a scoop or two into a bowl that suctions to the table, and cut the noodles into pieces using kitchen shears to make it easier for your baby to swallow the food. Serve and encourage hand-scooping. Store the rest for future mealtimes. The noodles will keep for several days in a sealed container in the fridge.
Oyster mushrooms have a mild, earthy flavor that pairs well with fatty foods like butter, cheese, creamy sauces, eggs, pork, and salmon; hearty grains like brown rice, farro, and quinoa; and starchy vegetables like squash and potatoes. Try serving with seasonings like fresh flavor-forward herbs such as basil, chives, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, or thyme and bold spices like cumin, coriander, garlic, ginger, onion, and turmeric.
- Valverde, M., Hernández-Pérez, T., Paredes-López, O. (2014). Edible Mushrooms: Improving Human Health and Promoting Quality Life. International Journal of Microbiology. doi.org/10.1155/2015/376387. Retrieved April 25, 2020
- MycoSupply. All About Oyster Mushrooms. Retrieved April 25, 2020
- Oregon Mushrooms. Beech Mushrooms. Retrieved August 31, 2019
- Jo Feeney, M., Miller, A. M., & Roupas, P. (2014). Mushrooms-Biologically Distinct and Nutritionally Unique: Exploring a “Third Food Kingdom”. Nutrition today, 49(6), 301–307.
- Koivikko, A. and Savolainen, J. (1988). Mushroom allergy. Allergy, 43(1), 1-10. DOI: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.1988.tb02037.x. Retrieved April 25, 2020
- Betz, B. (1990). Respiratory tract diseases in oyster mushroom cultivators. Pneumologie, 1, 339-340. Retrieved April 25, 2020