Can Babies Eat Pickles?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

With their sour flavor and crunchy bite, pickles aren’t likely to be the first food you offer your baby. But there’s no denying these brined cucumbers make a tasty sandwich side or salty snack (and they’re pretty ubiquitous at barbecues).

When the situation calls for pickles, is it OK to let your baby join in?

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Here’s the lowdown on when and how you can feed your little one pickles.

At what age can babies eat pickles?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies can begin solid foods around 6 months.

Signs of readiness include:

  • holding up the head
  • sitting up straight
  • doubling their birth weight
  • demonstrating interest in table foods

You may be surprised to learn that there’s no particular order in which food groups must be introduced when a child starts solids.

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So you’ve got your camera all ready as your 6-month-old sits in the high chair for a first bite of solid food. Should it be…pickles?

“Children can eat pickles as soon as they start solids, usually around 6 months old,” says pediatric dietitian Grace Shea, MS, RDN, CSP, LDN.

“Pickle spears are easy for babies to hold and are the perfect shape for baby- led weaning — although it’s likely they will mostly gnaw or suck on the spear rather than consume it.”

Later, as your kiddo develops their pincer grasp (around 9 months), you can try offering chopped or diced pickles, Shea says. Worried that pickle skin could be a choking hazard? Simply remove the outer skin and serve the softer flesh (also diced or chopped into small chunks).

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As with any raw veggies, be sure to watch your child closely for signs of choking as they eat pickle pieces.

Concerns about feeding pickles to babies

Other than the puckered-up face your baby may give you upon sampling a sour, briny spear, you may be concerned about the sodium content in pickles.

Sodium is a nutrient most Americans get too much of, and babies require even less of it than adults. The daily adequate intake of sodium for infants age 7 to 12 months is just 370 milligrams (mg).

“I recommend going easy on sodium with babies because of their immature kidneys,” says Shea.

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“They likely can’t handle large amounts of sodium, but that doesn’t mean you have to eliminate salt from their diet completely. Because of this, and pickles’ high sodium content, it’s best to give every now and then, but I wouldn’t serve them daily.”

Different varieties and preparations of pickles contain varying amounts of sodium, so check sodium on nutrition facts labels. In fact, 1 ounce of pickles can vary from around 140 mg to 260 mg of sodium or more. Look for pickles marked as low sodium and offer a small serving, such as one tablespoon.

Some babies’ stomachs may also be especially sensitive to acidic foods like pickles. Too much acid from foods can trigger reflux or an upset tummy. If your child has reflux or other digestive issues, talk to your doctor about whether you can include pickles in their diet.

Potential benefits of pickles for babies

Although they may not be right for every baby — and they do contain a lot of sodium — pickles aren’t a dietary devil! Since they’re essentially just brined cucumbers, they actually offer some health benefits.

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Some pickling methods use fermentation to create acidity. Eating fermented foods has been linked to healthier gut flora, which promotes better digestion and increased immunity.

“Most pickles on the shelves of grocery stores aren’t fermented; however, if you can find fermented pickles, they have great probiotic qualities and are great for babies’ guts,” says Shea.

(However, for safety, only serve your baby fermented pickles that have been pasteurized.)

Another unexpected benefit of pickles for babies? Their cool sensation can feel soothing on teething gums. The novel taste and refreshing sensory experience of a few bites of pickle might be enough to distract your little one from gum pain.

Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

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Introducing your baby to a variety of flavors and textures in their first year of life can have lasting positive effects. In fact, research shows that early introduction of a wide range of foods — especially fruits and vegetables —leads to greater food acceptance and dietary range later on.

Then again, this can have influence both for good and for ill. Other research has indicated that eating too many salty foods early in life can lead to craving more salt in older childhood.

Don’t let concern over baby’s potential dislike of pickles’ strong taste stop you from letting them relish a bit of relish. Just be aware that, because of high sodium content, a little bit of pickles goes a long way, and they shouldn’t be an everyday food.

Do pickles cause diaper rash?

A breakout on baby’s delicate bottom isn’t just uncomfortable for them; it can also be tough for you as a parent to diagnose. Was it the new wipes you just started using? Or the giant handful of strawberries your kid downed at lunch? Sometimes the cause remains a mystery.

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However, strange as it sounds, it’s possible for pickles to cause diaper rash. Acidic foods may irritate some babies’ skin. Or, if your child’s sensitive GI tract is disturbed by acidic foods, pickles might cause diarrhea, increasing the risk of diaper rash.

If you suspect pickles are the culprit behind the red bumps on your baby’s bum, remove them from your child’s diet and reintroduce them at a later date.

The takeaway

When barbecue season rolls around or a creamy dip calls for a hint of something sour, pickles can be fair game for babies. Keeping in mind sodium content, you can feel free to let your little one savor pickles’ zesty flavor here and there.

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