Cucumbers. People tend to love ’em or hate ’em, but either way, they do have a lot going for them. So can you give them to your baby?
The short answer is yes! So let’s take a look at when your little one can have their first taste of cucumber, if this is a safe veggie for teething, and the best way to prepare cucumbers for your baby.
So, when can you give your baby cucumber, and in what form? Experts usually agree — around the same age range when you start introducing solids. But it shouldn’t be the first food. While most babies begin eating solids around 6 months of age, cucumbers shouldn’t be added to the diet until around 9 months old.
And at that age, cucumber should only be given in a pureed or mashed form. This is because cucumbers have a substance called
If you want to give your little one raw cucumbers, wait until they’re at least 12 months old, when they not only usually have more teeth but also have a better-developed digestive system.
So, what’s the big deal with cucumbers, and why are some parents so keen to give them to their mini-me? The truth is that cucumbers offer a wide range of health benefits for people of all ages.
Even though cucumbers are slightly tasteless veggies by some people’s standards, they contain essential nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, potassium, magnesium, silica, and manganese.
Keep in mind though that studies pointing to the nutritional value of cucumbers are usually conducted on adults and focus on eating an adult serving size — roughly a third of a cucumber. So, while these vegetables are nutrient-rich, they’re not a substitute for giving your baby a balanced diet to ensure proper nutrition.
Additionally, experts usually recommend eating cucumbers in their raw, unpeeled form to get the most nutritional and fiber benefits. So, for 9-month-old babies eating cooked cucumbers that are pureed or mashed, the total nutritional benefits are going to be significantly limited.
Hydration and antioxidants
Still, cucumbers are rich in antioxidants and can be a
You may know that many brands promote
So, now you know why cucumbers are beneficial and when you should introduce them — and in what form — to your baby’s diet. But if you’ve never made baby food before, you might feel a little overwhelmed.
Regardless of which age range you’re feeding, always test the cucumber first to make sure that it’s not too bitter.
Cucumbers for a 9-month-old
If you remember, we noted that 9 months is the earliest you should introduce cucumbers to a baby. And if you choose to do so, the cucumber should be mashed or pureed.
Always start by thoroughly washing the vegetable. It’s up to you whether or not you want to peel the cucumber first, but if you’re concerned about increasing the nutritional value, leave the peel on.
Steam or boil the cucumber for 10 to 15 minutes or until it’s soft enough that you can poke it with a fork and the fork easily spears it. Depending on the blender or mixer you have, you can put the cucumber in whole, or chop it into large sections. Blend the cucumber on high for a puree, and add water as needed to create a smooth consistency.
For mashed cucumbers, you can opt for a chunkier texture, but you may still want to add water for a slightly smoother texture that isn’t too gritty.
If this is the first time that you’re introducing cucumbers, be sure to slowly add it into your little one’s meals.
Cucumbers for 12 months and older
With a 12-month-old, you can begin to introduce raw cucumbers. For these tots, the prep process is significantly easier and would be no different than if you were cutting up cucumbers for yourself.
Make sure that the cucumber has been thoroughly washed, and again test a piece to ensure it’s not bitter. For maximum nutritional value, leave the peel on and cut the cucumber into small enough pieces that won’t pose a choking risk.
It’s important to remember that cucumber can be one of those polarizing vegetables that some people will never like as a solo dish. You might want to consider creating puree blends — especially for infants younger than 12 months — if you have your heart set on adding cucumbers to your baby’s diet.
Popular blends like pears and cucumbers or even apples and cucumbers can help to mask the bland yet slightly bitter taste that many people feel the vegetable has.
Baby-led weaning is exactly as it sounds. Rather than waiting until an arbitrary time, you can begin to introduce purees or finger foods to your baby as soon as they exhibit signs of readiness. This includes:
- being able to sit upright
- good head and neck control
- curiosity around table foods during mealtime
- the ability to hold food in their mouth as well as chew it
The truth is there’s a disconnect here between scientific and many parenting communities regarding cucumbers and baby-led weaning.
While the scientific community recommends not serving raw cucumbers to babies under 12 months because of the risk of digestive upset, many parenting groups will say that it’s perfectly OK because it’s a hard, crunchy, tactile food that’s easy for little ones to grasp.
We recommend waiting to introduce raw cucumbers until your baby is at least 12 months old. Ultimately, you’ll need to decide if the potential for upset stomach or gastrointestinal discomfort is too much or not enough of a concern when it comes to introducing cucumbers to your baby.
But if your child has struggled with tummy issues before introducing solids, it’s probably a good idea to cut cucumbers from a baby-led weaning plan.
On the other hand, if you’re not a fan of teething toys, cucumbers can be a popular solution for teething. A common option is to make chilled cucumber rings. This is an easy-to-make teething relief hack in which sliced cucumber rings are dredged in a tasty fruit puree (as your baby may reject a plain cucumber slice) and then frozen until needed.
Before giving the cucumber rings to your baby, be sure to let them thaw a bit at room temperature so that there’s no risk of a frozen ring sticking to your baby’s tongue or mouth.
Likewise, you should always supervise your child while they use a cucumber teether since there’s a chance that gumming at it for a while could cause pieces to break off and pose a choking risk.
Are cucumbers the most high-nutrient food your child will ever eat? Most likely, the answer is no. But when prepared the right way, they’re a great way to help diversify your baby’s diet and add essential hydration.
While the jury is out on whether or not they’re a great idea for baby-led weaning, they can also be natural remedies for irritated gums during teething.