When can babies eat potatoes?
Potatoes may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. For clarity, the information here refers to golden, creamy-colored, and white-fleshed potatoes. Check out our entries on purple potato and sweet potato for specific information on these two incredibly nutritious branches of the potato family tree.
Need more ideas for baby’s first solid foods? Check out our guides.
Background and origins of potatoes
In the 1950s, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda wrote an ode to the starchy tuber of his homeland, heralding the potato as the “tesoro interminable de los pueblos” or interminable treasure trove of the people. His hyperbole celebrates the diversity and ubiquity of the potato—a staple food around the globe, including in South America, where Aymara and Quechua farmers first learned to cultivate the native plant thousands of years ago. Spanish colonizers brought the hardy tuber to Asia and Europe, where potato became an essential food that is still enjoyed at breakfast, lunch, and dinner today. There are thousands of different varieties to seek out, each with a unique color, shape, and taste, but two types dominate the world market: starchy russet potatoes and waxy-fleshed potatoes. These are the potatoes used to make favorite foods like chips, dosas, dumplings, fries, latkes, puffs, samosas, and more.
Are potatoes healthy for babies?
Yes. Potatoes are an energy powerhouse for growing babies, with essential nutrients like folate, iron, vitamin B6, and zinc.1 2 The tubers also contain other B vitamins, vitamin C to boost the immune system, and choline—an important nutrient for brain development. An important type of fiber called “resistant starch” in potatoes helps grow beneficial gut bacteria to support a baby’s body.3 4
To peel or not to peel? Potato skins are loaded with antioxidants and beneficial plant nutrients. However, like most root vegetables, potatoes soak up metals in the soil where they grow. This is true for both organic and conventionally grown potatoes and is the result of soil pollution from pesticide usage from decades ago. This is why you may have read that commercial baby food (which is often made with sweet potatoes) can contain heavy metals.5 To minimize the risk, peel potatoes before cooking as metals from the soil and pesticides tend to concentrate in the skin.6
★Tip: Toss any potatoes that have sprouted and peel away or carve out any “eyes” (the common name for those dark spots) before cooking and serving. Sprouted potatoes contain more of the tuber’s natural toxin called solanine, which can be harmful when consumed in large amounts.7 Cooking potatoes at high heat can significantly decrease its solanine content.8
Are potatoes a common choking hazard for babies?
No. Potato is not a common choking hazard when it has been cooked and prepared in an age-appropriate way. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meals.
Are potatoes a common allergen?
No. Potato allergy is uncommon, although not unheard of.9 Some babies and toddlers who have eczema and/or pre-existing food allergies may be more at risk of sensitivity to potato.10 11 Also, individuals with Oral Allergy Syndrome (also called pollen-food allergy syndrome) may be sensitive to potatoes, especially if eating the peel or if the potatoes are raw or undercooked.12 In particular, individuals who have birch, grass, or mugwort pollen allergies may be more sensitive to potato.13 14 15 16 Oral Allergy Syndrome typically results in short-lived itching in the mouth and is unlikely to result in a dangerous reaction.
Although severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to cooked potato are uncommon, there have been isolated reports of contact hives and rash after contact with raw potato.17 Some individuals with pre-existing allergy to natural rubber latex develop a cross-reactive allergy to potato.18
As you would when introducing any new food to a baby, start by serving a small quantity during the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the amount over future meals.
How do you prepare potatoes 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 months +: Offer large wedges of cooked potato (or even whole potatoes) that baby can grab and munch. Make sure the potato has been cooked all the way through and mashes readily when pressed between two fingers. If offering a whole potato, the potato should be substantially larger than baby’s mouth, but small enough that baby can hold it on their own. No need to remove the skin, unless it makes you nervous. Alternatively, you can offer mashed potato that baby can scoop with hands or eat from a pre-loaded spoon. Too boost nutrition, consider stirring in breast (human) milk, formula, your milk of choice, fresh ricotta cheese, or unsweetened whole milk yogurt and drizzle with a healthy oil or a sprinkle of ground nut. Mashed potatoes are an excellent base for hard-to-scoop foods like amaranth, lentils, quinoa, and rice to minimize the mess and make it easier for baby to eat these foods.
9 months +: At this age, babies begin to develop the pincer grasp (where the thumb and forefinger meet), which enables them to pick up smaller pieces of food. When you see signs of this development, try serving bite-sized pieces of cooked potato for baby to try and pick up. Leave the skin on or remove it, it’s your choice. Babies often chew on the skin and spit it out, and while this seems like waste, building familiarity with skin can help encourage a child to eat fruits and vegetables with the skin later in life. You can also continue to offer wedges of cooked potato for practice with biting and managing bigger pieces of food, as well as mashed potato.
12 months +: Offer small, bite-sized pieces of cooked potato as finger food or utensil practice (pre-loading the fork as needed), coaching how to spear the food with the fork. Don’t worry if the child is not interested in using a utensil and wants to continue eating with their hands. Many toddlers prefer to use their fingers to self-feed and toggle back and forth between using a utensil and their hands. This is age-appropriate and a healthy part of development. Try not to apply too much pressure—consistent and accurate utensil use will come in due time—probably between 18 and 24 months of age.
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
Recipe: Colcannon (Irish Mashed Potatoes)
Yield: 2 cups (4-8 child-sized servings)
Time: 30 minutes
Age: 6 months+
- 1 large russet potato
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 small onion
- 4 large stalks fresh kale or 1 cup frozen kale leaves
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
- ½ cup whole milk or plant-based milk of choice
- ¼ cup mascarpone cheese, fresh ricotta cheese, or unsweetened yogurt
This recipe contains a common allergen: dairy. Only serve to your child after this allergen has been safely introduced.
- Wash and peel the potato. Discard the skin. Chop the flesh into large chunks.
- Add the potato to a pot and cover with water by 1 inch.
- Bring to a boil, then cover and turn the heat to medium-low. Cook until the potato chunks are tender and a knife easily inserts into the thickest chunk, between 10 and 15 minutes. Drain.
- While the potato cooks, peel and mince the garlic and onion, and defrost and wash the kale. Pull the kale leaves from any large stalks. Finely chop the leaves. Discard or reserve the stalks for another use.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet set on medium heat. When it is done foaming, add the garlic and onion and stir to coat. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the kale to the skillet and stir to coat. Cook until the greens have wilted and brightened in color, about 3 minutes.
- Pour the milk into the skillet. When the liquid starts to simmer, add the drained potatoes and cheese or yogurt. Mash the mixture until mostly smooth. A little texture is okay as long as there are no large clumps of potato or kale.
- Remove the skillet from the heat. Cool to room temperature before serving.
- Serve: Scoop some colcannon into a baby bowl. Exact serving size is variable. Let baby’s appetite determine how much is eaten. Place the bowl in front of baby and let baby self-feed by trying to scoop with hands. If baby needs help, pass a pre-loaded spoon in the air for baby to grab from you.
To Store: Colcannon keeps in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3 days.
Common potatoes taste nutty, sometimes with a hint of sweetness, with a texture that soaks up seasoning. Try mashing potato with flavor-forward veggies like artichoke, beet, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, kohlrabi, parsnip, pumpkin, rutabaga, squash, or turnip. Stir in creamy foods like mascarpone cheese, ricotta cheese, quark, or yogurt to compliment the potato’s soft texture. Experiment with seasonings by mixing in capers, dill, garlic, horseradish, hot pepper, kimchi, lemon, lemongrass, parsley, sauerkraut, or tarragon. Play up the potato’s earthy flavor by serving alongside button mushroom or shiitake; hearty meats like beef, bison, lamb, pork, or venison; or seafood like haddock, halibut, pollock, sardine, scallop, tilapia, or trout.
J. Truppi, MSN, CNS
V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP
K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT
S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)
R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist
- Beluska-Turkan, K., Korczak, R., Hartell, B., Moskal, K., Maukonen, J., et al. (2019). Nutritional Gaps and Supplementation in the First 1000 Days. Nutrients, 11(12), 2891. DOI: 10.3390/nu11122891. Retrieved February 23, 2021
- Hilger, J., Goerig, T., Weber, P., Hoeft, B., Eggersdorfer, M., et al. (2015). Micronutrient Intake in Healthy Toddlers: A Multinational Perspective.” Nutrients, 7(8), 6938–55. Retrieved February 23, 2021 from: Hilger, Jennifer et al. 2015. “Micronutrient Intake in Healthy Toddlers: A Multinational Perspective.” Nutrients 7(8): 6938–55. DOI: 10.3390/nu7085316. Retrieved February 23, 2021
- Akyol, H., Riciputi, Y., Capanoglu, E., Caboni, M. F., Verardo, V. (2016). Phenolic Compounds in the Potato and Its Byproducts: An Overview. International journal of molecular sciences, 17(6), 835. DOI:10.3390/ijms17060835. Retrieved February 23, 2021
- Robertson, T.M., Alzaabi, A.Z., Robertson, M.D., Fielding, B.A. (2018). Starchy Carbohydrates in a Healthy Diet: The Role of the Humble Potato. Nutrients, 10(11), 1764. DOI:10.3390/nu10111764. Retrieved February 23, 2021
- Coding, E., Chaney, R.L., Green, C.E. (2016). Accumulation of Lead and Arsenic by Potato Grown on Lead–Arsenate-Contaminated Orchard Soils. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, 47(6), 799-807. DOI: 10.1080/00103624.2016.1146754. Retrieved February 23, 2021
- MacLean, K.S., Langille, W.M. (1918). Arsenic in orchard and potato soils and plant tissue. Plant Soil, 61, 413–418. DOI:10.1007/BF02182021. Retrieved February 23, 2021
- National Capital Poison Center. Are Sprouted Potatoes Safe to Eat? Retrieved February 23, 2021
- Zhou, X., Gao, Q., Praticò, G., Chen, J., Dragsted, L. O. (2019). Biomarkers of tuber intake. Genes & nutrition, 14, 9. DOI:10.1186/s12263-019-0631-0. Retrieved February 23, 2021
- Beausoleil, J.L., Spergel, J.M., Pawlowski, N.A. (2001). Anaphylaxis to raw potato. Annals of allergy, asthma & immunology: official publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, 86(1), 68–70. DOI:10.1016/S1081-1206(10)62359-9. Retrieved February 23, 2021
- Dogru, M., Ozmen, S., Bostanci, I., Keles, S. (2015). Clinical features of potato sensitivity in children with allergic disease. La Clinica terapeutica, 166(1), 12–15. DOI:10.7417/CT.2015.1794. Retrieved February 23, 2021
- De Swert, L.F., Cadot, P., Ceuppens, J. L. (2007). Diagnosis and natural course of allergy to cooked potatoes in children. Allergy, 62(7), 750–757. DOI:10.1111/j.1398-9995.2007.01368.x. Retrieved February 23, 2021
- American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) or Pollen Fruit Syndrome (PFS). Retrieved September 15, 2020
- Chiriac, A.M., Bourrain, J.L., Lepicard, E., Molinari, N., Demoly, P. (2017). Prevalence of sensitization and allergy to potato in a large population. The journal of allergy and clinical immunology. In practice, 5(2), 507–509. DOI:10.1016/j.jaip.2016.12.011. Retrieved February 23, 2021
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) or Pollen Fruit Syndrome (PFS). Retrieved February 23, 2021
- Mayo Clinic. Food Allergy. Retrieved February 23, 2021
- de Lagrán ZM, de Frutos FJ, de Arribas MG, Vanaclocha-Sebastián F. Contact urticaria to raw potato. Dermatol Online J. 2009;15(5):14
- de Lagrán ZM, de Frutos FJ, de Arribas MG, Vanaclocha-Sebastián F. Contact urticaria to raw potato. Dermatol Online J. 2009;15(5):14
- Reche M, Pascual CY, Vicente J, Caballero T, Martín-Muñoz F, Sanchez S, et al. Tomato allergy in children and young adults: cross-reactivity with latex and potato. Allergy. 2001;56(12):1197-201.