Can Babies Eat Onions?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

So many delicious foods start with a bit of onion. Casseroles, tacos, salsa, soups — onions are in everything! With all the tasty concoctions you can make with this classic ingredient, you may be especially eager to introduce onions to your favorite little person: your baby.

The when and how of feeding your child solids can sometimes feel confusing or overwhelming. Fortunately, starting your baby on onion is relatively simple. We’ve got the details on including this aromatic veggie in your little one’s diet.

Age when it’s OK to introduce onions

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With their firm texture and strong taste, onions may not be a top contender for your child’s very first solid food — but, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there’s no perfect order in which to introduce various types of solids.

“Onions can be safely given to babies as they begin solid foods, starting around 6 months old,” confirms pediatric dietitian Grace Shea, MS, RDN, CSP.

According to the AAP, signs of readiness for solid foods include:

  • holding their head up
  • moving food from a spoon into their throat
  • opening their mouth as food approaches
  • doubling birth weight to around 13 pounds

When your child displays these indicators, you can consider giving them their first taste of cooked onions.

Benefits of onions for babies

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Onions are a healthy food for people of all ages — and that includes babies!

“Onions are packed with nutrients beneficial for babies, like fiber and prebiotics, which support digestion,” says Shea. One small onion contains about 1 gram of fiber. This may not sound like much — until you consider that babies only require about 5 grams of this nutrient per day.

Additionally, onions are a significant source of vitamin C at 5 milligrams (mg) per small onion. (This is about 10 percent of the recommended daily intake of 50 mg for infants 7 to 12 months.) Getting enough vitamin C can help your child’s body create collagen, combat damaging free radicals, and maintain immunity.

In smaller amounts, onions also provide folate, vitamin B6, and potassium.

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We know your baby isn’t going to eat even one small onion daily. But besides their nutrition benefits, onions offer the perk of adding flavor to baby’s food without sodium or anything artificial.

How to prepare onions for your baby

It’s a rare breed of person — whether infant or adult — who enjoys eating onions raw. Just like you probably don’t chow down on a Vidalia like an apple, your baby isn’t likely to gravitate toward the taste and texture of raw onions.

When introducing onions, start by including them in a cooked dish, such as a purée with other veggies. You can also consider meatballs, casseroles, or an omelet if your baby is accustomed to solids already.

If you choose to feed your child onions on their own, it’s important to serve them cooked and cut into small pieces. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pieces of hard raw vegetables remain a choking hazard until babies reach 12 months of age.

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To bring out onions’ natural sweetness — which may increase the chances of your child enjoying them — try roasting or pan-sautéing them in a bit of olive oil.

Onion water for colic

Leave it to the internet to come up with off-the-wall uses for onion. One rumored remedy for colic in babies is to boil an onion in water, then put the cooled, pungent “tea” in baby’s bottle.

If this sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

“Although onion water and onion tea have been touted as a curative for colic and upset tummy in babies, there’s no scientific evidence to support their effectiveness,” says Shea.

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Plus, infants and any kind of “tea” shouldn’t mix. “Babies under the age of 1 shouldn’t be given fluids other than breast milk or formula,” Shea notes.

Onions and teething

Ah, teething — that challenging time when your little one is extra fussy and drooling like a fire hose.

Similar to the advice you may read about onions and colic, you may hear onions touted as a solution for babies’ teething woes. Give your little one a bit of frozen green onion (or even raw white onion) to gnaw on, say proponents, and watch their fussiness disappear.

So are onions a legit teething remedy? It’s possible your child may enjoy the soothing sensation of anything frozen when teething, but tales of onions as a curative for gum pain are anecdotal at best.

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However, it’s certainly not wrong to give your child onions while teething. “Onions are safe to feed babies when they’re teething, and parents can mix cooked onions into foods as they normally do,” says Shea.

“Babies’ appetites and the amount of food they normally eat is typically lower during teething times, so parents shouldn’t be surprised if their baby doesn’t want onions from time to time.”

Precautions and allergies

Other than onions’ strong flavor, you may wonder if you should hold off on feeding them to your child for other reasons, such as food allergies.

“Onions aren’t considered a common food allergen; however, babies can be allergic to any food,” says Shea. “When introducing onion, start by offering a small amount for their first couple of introductions, watching closely for adverse reactions.”

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There’s one other potential pitfall of feeding your baby onions: gas. Fortunately, a simple fix can reduce the likelihood of your little one tooting up a storm after a dinner of onion soup. “Serving cooked onions, rather than raw, may be easier on digestion, as well as more palatable to babies,” says Shea.

The bottom line

With their savory, aromatic flavor and tons of health benefits, onions can be a healthy, tasty addition to your baby’s diet.

To prevent gas and reduce choking risks, just be sure to serve them cooked — not raw — and in small pieces.

And don’t worry if your littlest eater turns up their nose at onions the first few times. The more you experiment with offering onions in various packages, the better the chances you’ll soon get a smile (and a bit of baby onion breath) upon serving these veggies.

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