Are Pickles Safe For Babies To Eat?

There's something special yet satisfying about biting into a crunchy, salty pickle. These sour green spears seem to show up just about everywhere too. From family picnics to Disneyland, it's understandable why you'd want to share this pickled cucumber with your baby. Not to mention, pickles also support digestion, fight diseases, and potentially calm muscle cramps, according to WebMD. But is it safe for a baby to join in on this pickle frenzy? Let's weigh the pros and cons.

When it comes to introducing foods to your little one, age plays a huge role. The American Academy of Pediatrics says it's safe to start incorporating solid foods at six months old. Doctors recommend including various types of healthy foods that range in both texture and taste. And luckily, pickles fall into both categories. Pediatric dietitian Grace Shea explains to Healthline, "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." Just be sure to watch your child carefully as they eat to prevent choking. The experts at Cleveland Clinic recommend cutting it into smaller pieces and removing seeds. But if you're still worried, removing the tough outer skin helps too, points out Healthline.

What happens when babies eat pickles?

One of the many advantages of babies eating pickles is to help with their teething (per Healthline). The cool texture of the spear might be the perfect thing to distract those gnawing gums as they teeth or improve their pincer grasp. If the pickle is fermented it offers even more health benefits. Fermented foods actually improve gut bacteria. This applies to little ones as well. For safety reasons, be sure the fermented pickles you give your baby are pasteurized too.

Nonetheless, pickles do have one major flaw. They're high in sodium. And, babies don't need much salt. According to the Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium, the daily sodium requirement for infants aged between 7 to 12 months is 370 milligrams. When infants consume foods with high salt content it can overwork their kidneys, points out Healthline. As a result, pickles are only appropriate as a snack from time to time. Consuming too frequently can lead to reflux or stomach pain.

So if you're still in a pickle about whether pickles are safe for babies to eat, talk to your pediatrician — that way you can feel at ease before introducing your baby to a new tangy treat.