When can babies eat ramps?
Ramps may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.
Background and origins of ramps
Ramps are a rare treat that are mainly foraged in the upland woods of Canada, Appalachia, and the northern regions of the United States. They are an allium—a plant family that includes onions, leeks, shallots, and garlic. In fact, to some, they are “wild leeks” or “wild garlic” instead of “ramps,” which is the Appalachian name for the plant. Ramps are an important part of Cherokee cooking, valued both for their medicinal properties and flavor.
When you see ramps at farmers markets, grocery stores, and restaurants, don’t wait to try them. They have an incredibly short growing season—just a few weeks starting in the early spring. Throughout Appalachia, the arrival of ramp season is celebrated with festivals and conventions. Ramps are slightly sweet with a distinctive onion flavor and a smell like garlic, so pick up a bundle and use them as you would other alliums. Pickled ramps, ramps kimchi, ramps pasta, ramps pesto, ramps pizza, ramps with eggs, ramps with fish, ramps corn bread, ramps with butter on toast—the list goes on!
Are ramps healthy for babies?
Yes. Ramps likely have a nutritional profile similar to other allium plants (leeks, chives, and scallions), though the data on their specific nutrient content is lacking.1 Wild ramps contain vitamin A and folate, nutrients that support your baby’s vision and healthy development. Ramps also take up minerals from the soil in which they grow, including iron. Ramps also contain fiber, which is great for digestion, and powerful phytonutrients that have antibacterial, antioxidant, and antiviral properties to help keep you and baby healthy.2
Are ramps a common choking hazard for babies?
No. Ramps, when chopped and incorporated into other foods, are not a common choking hazard, though in theory, an individual can choke on any food. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment, stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meals, and check out our age-appropriate serving suggestions.
Are ramps a common allergen?
No. Allergies to ramps are rare, though there is some evidence that allergies to plants in the onion family are increasing.3 Of note, some allergens in foods in this family are sensitive to heat, meaning that well-cooked ramps might be well-tolerated in an individual who is sensitive to raw ramps. Individuals with Oral Allergy Syndrome (also called pollen fruit syndrome), and in particular, those with sensitivities to grass pollen or mugwort pollen (a weed) may also be sensitive to ramps.4 5 Oral Allergy Syndrome typically results in short-lived itching or burning in the mouth and is unlikely to result in a dangerous reaction.
As you would when introducing any new food, start by serving a small quantity for the first couple of times. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future servings.
How do you prepare ramps for babies with baby-led weaning?
Every baby develops on their own timeline. The preparation suggestions below are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional, nutritionist or dietitian, or expert in pediatric feeding and eating. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
6 to 12 months old: Mix a small amount of sautéed ramps into scrambled eggs or quiches, and try using them in place of onions in meatballs and patties. You can also sauté ramps in butter or olive oil and spread the oniony sauce on bread, chicken, or fish or mix it into pasta or a grain dish for little ones to scoop with their hands.
12 to 18 months old: This is a great age to introduce ramp butter! Blend raw ramps with butter and start small; ramps can be a bit tough on the belly, just like garlic. Ramp butter is a delicious topping for bread, green beans, fish, and chicken dishes.
18 to 24 months old: At this age your baby may be getting quite selective with food choices, but there is one food that most babies love: mascarpone cheese. Stir minced ramps into mascarpone cheese and spread on toast, fold into sauces, and mix into quiches.
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
Like leeks and other onions, ramps benefit from a slow, steady sauté. Cook on medium low heat in some butter or olive oil until completely soft and translucent.
Recipe: Ramp Pasta with Peas
Yield: 3 cups pasta
Time: 20 minutes
Age: 6+ months
- 8 ounces (225 g) of a large tubular pasta such as rigatoni or penne
- 4 ramps
- 4 tablespoons (60 g) unsalted butter
- 1 cup (130 g) frozen peas
- ¼ cup (60 g) Parmesan cheese (12 months+)
- Optional: freshly ground black pepper
- Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Before you drain the pasta, save ½ cup (120 g) of pasta cooking water.
- Wash the ramps. Separate the bulbs and leaves. Mince the bulbs and leaves, keeping them separate.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Sauté the bulbs until fragrant and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the cooked pasta, frozen peas, and the minced ramp leaves to the butter and toss to combine. Add a tiny splash of the pasta cooking water to help create a sauce that will stick to the pasta. If baby is over 12 months, add parmesan cheese if desired. Garnish with black pepper if desired.
- Serve: If baby is younger than 9 months of age, flatten the peas in the pasta you serve with the back of a fork to minimize the choking risk. For babies 9 months and up, it should be fine to leave the peas whole but trust your gut. Cutting pasta in half will help older babies and toddlers consume more and spit less out. Serve the pasta in bowl and let baby eat with their hands. Alternatively, pass baby a pre-loaded fork with a small piece of pasta or a pea in the air for them to grab from you.
To Store: Keep sealed in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
This recipe contains a common allergen: wheat, dairy. Only serve to the child after this allergen has been safely introduced.
E. Cerda, MSN, CNS, LDN
A. Gilbaugh, RD, CNSC
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
- Klausner, A. (2018, April 23). Like onions? Try ramps! Berkeley Wellness. Retrieved April 16, 2021
- Dabeek, W. M., Kovinich, N., Walsh, C., & Ventura Marra, M. (2019). Characterization and quantification of major flavonol glycosides in ramps (Allium tricoccum). Molecules, 24(18). DOI: 10.3390/molecules24183281. Retrieved April 16, 2021
- Cantisani, C., Visconti, B., Paolino, G., Frascani, F., Tofani, S., et al. (2014). Unusual food allergy: Alioidea allergic reactions overview. Recent Patents on Inflammation & Allergy Drug Discovery, 8(3):178-84. DOI: 10.2174/1872213×08666141107170159. Retrieved May 13, 2020
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) or Pollen Fruit Syndrome (PFS). Retrieved April 12, 2021
- Armentia A, Martín-Armentia S, Pineda F, Martín-Armentia B, Castro M, Fernández S, et al. Allergic hypersensitivity to garlic and onion in children and adults. Allergol Immunopathol (Madr). 2020;48(3):232-6.