The Goodness of Garlic for Baby

Posted on Nov 6 2009 - 2:44pm by Christine

We often list garlic as an ingredient in our baby food recipes and that sometimes prompts messages from our visitors. Some are from parents wondering if it’s really OK to feed babies garlic – and others are from parents saying they’re surprised just how much their little ones enjoy recipes with garlic added to them!

Garlic and baby food

If you’re undecided about whether or not to include what seems to be such a sophisticated ingredient in your baby’s meals, then today’s post may tempt you into giving it a go.

PLEASE NOTE: You should always check with your doctor before introducing garlic, or any new food, into your baby’s diet. You should also treat garlic as a ‘new food’ – which means you should offer it for the first time with a food your baby is ALREADY safely enjoying.That way, if the garlic causes any digestive discomfort or allergic reaction, then you’ll easily be able to identify it as the cause.

Babies seem to like garlic even BEFORE they start solids…

Studies back in 1991 showed that babies nurse better when their mothers have eaten garlic!

In one experiment to determine the effect of second-hand flavours on nursing infants, breastfeeding mums were given garlic pills and then fed their babies between 1 1/2 to 3 hours later, Β when the garlic odour in the breastmilk had reached its peak. Researchers Julie Mennella and Gary Beauchamp from the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia found that the babies spent longer attached to the breast as a result.

And whilst parents in some cultures may feel trepidation about introducing garlic to their tots, it’s worth remembering that babies in other cultures may begin eating garlic as soon as they start solids, often enjoying traditional foods prepared with a variety of other herbs and spices, too!

Indeed, some experts conclude that any reservations about including garlic in baby food recipes are usually based on cultural reasons rather than medical ones. We were very pleased when this article did the rounds back in 2005, because it really exploded the myth that babies can and will only enjoy bland food!

So – aside from enhancing flavour – what makes garlic such a desirable addition to your homemade baby food recipes?

  • Garlic helps protect the body against infection and may even help prevent the common cold – or at least help the body recover more quickly. This is due mainly to the compound allicin, which has both anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties (and is also responsible for garlic’s strong smell!).
  • Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties, meaning it may help protect against conditions like arthritis in later life and may also reduce the symptoms of asthma.
  • A diet rich in garlic may help protect the body against many forms of cancer. The allicin in garlic acts as a powerful anti-oxidant and more and more studies are showing just how important garlic may be in the fight against this disease.
  • Garlic supports heart health – it may help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risks of high blood pressures, strokes and heart attack in later life.
  • Garlic contains a range of useful nutrients, including lots of vitamin C, plus vitamins B6 and B1, manganese, selenium, potassium and iron.

In order to ensure that your baby gets the maximum benefits from eating garlic, try to use fresh garlic as opposed to powdered or paste.

You should then crush or chop the garlic before cooking with it, as this aids the production of the allicin that makes garlic such a healthy addition to the diet. Experts actually recommend leaving the garlic to ‘sit’ for 10 minutes after crushing it, but before cooking it, to allow the allicin to develop fully. It’s also a good idea to cook the garlic only lightly, to preserve its healthy properties (just as you would with fresh fruits and vegetables).

Only introduce a little garlic to your baby at first – and do bear in mind that some varieties are far stronger than others. We once ate garlic in Spain that was so spicy it made our eyes water. Though very tasty, it would have been far too hot for our little one’s palate had we served it in a large quantity!

You can add garlic to just about any savoury dish, as it only seems to enhance the flavour of whatever it’s added to! You’ll find many recipes on our site that list garlic as an ingredient – and to get you started this link lists all the garlic-containing recipes on our blog (plus a couple of useful articles).

What about the smell?

It’s always easy to tell when someone’s been eating garlic, as that unmistakable aroma tends to hang around for a day or two! It’s an unfortunate side effect of eating this healthy food and – although the smell is more noticeable after eating raw garlic – it occurs whether or not the garlic is cooked.

Chewing fresh parsley helps reduce the smell a little (which is why you always see parsley on garlic bread) and you can certainly try stirring some into baby’s food if the smell bothers you.

A better option, though, is to eat some yourself – you never seem to notice it on anyone else if you’ve eaten it too!

Personally, we think that smelling of garlic is a small price to pay for all the benefits it brings – plus it helps keep the mosquitoes off (pretty important here in the Bahamas!).

Sources:
Dr Sears – 8 Foods That Boost Immunity
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine – Garlic
WHFoods

Does YOUR baby enjoy garlic in his food? Does he eat any other ‘sophisticated’ ingredients, or like his foods nice and spicy? Or do you think that adding ingredients like garlic to baby food is unnecessary?

Leave your comments below!

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27 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Preethi Nair January 8, 2010 at 2:36 am -

    My baby loves anything which is sauted with ginger and garlic paste, I started adding garlic to his food when he was 6 months, now he is 1 and still enjoys the food- especially kichdi- rice, veggies sauted with ginger garlic and presure cooked.

  2. anitha January 20, 2010 at 6:05 am -

    is it ok for my 11mth old to eat raw garlic,she seems to like it?

  3. Christine January 20, 2010 at 1:49 pm -

    Hi Anitha – if your baby is already eating raw garlic and enjoying it, then that’s great – its health benefits are more potent when served raw. For those thinking about introducing garlic to their babies, it’s worth bearing in mind that raw garlic tastes stronger than cooked and that the chance of allergic reaction is a little higher.

  4. anitha January 21, 2010 at 1:11 am -

    Thanks for your response πŸ™‚

  5. Rajitha March 12, 2010 at 6:32 pm -

    Anitha/Preethi,
    I have a 9 month old. I haven’t tried feeding him any spices yet. Can you pl give me the recipe for garlic-sauteed vegetables and Khichdi so i can try them with my baby? I greatly appreciate this.

    Christine,
    i was browsing online for home-made baby food and came cross your blog. I loved reading them. Thank you.

  6. Christine March 12, 2010 at 6:47 pm -

    You’re welcome Rajitha – I hope that Preethi sees this and has a recipe for you πŸ™‚

  7. M. Hinchey May 10, 2010 at 2:56 pm -

    My son cried every time I tried to feed him strained green beans. My mother-in-law suggested adding garlic and, wow, did that work. With just a shake of powered garlic, green beans turned from a food he hated to a food he loved. It will definitely be a staple in future!

  8. Christine May 10, 2010 at 5:09 pm -

    …And that’s a great tip there for anyone struggling with introducing green beans πŸ™‚

  9. h. devlin August 26, 2010 at 12:25 pm -

    I started my son on garlic when he first started solids, a tiny bit in his pureed carrots… and more and more as the veggies got introduced. He loves such a variety of foods and i believe thats from introducing garlic, people wow at what he eats… He’s healthy and loves his food! Garlic rocks…. preggers with twins now and will do the same, it’ll be interesting to see if it all pans out the same…. who knows but hope so!! here here to Garlic!! πŸ™‚

  10. h. devlin August 26, 2010 at 12:26 pm -

    p.s, hes mad for cumin too, a real nice flavour for his foods:)

  11. Christine August 26, 2010 at 3:43 pm -

    We’ll second that πŸ™‚ Best of luck with your pregnancy!

  12. Gauri November 11, 2010 at 2:51 am -

    Hi,

    When we are giving any vegetable or tomato soup to our 6 months or older baby then we just add only one garlic clove in the baby food. It really helps baby to digest the food.

  13. maya December 25, 2010 at 1:29 pm -

    my baby is 11 months n she is having a cold (lots of mucus)
    is it ok to add a fresh garlic to the yogurt ?

  14. Christine December 26, 2010 at 9:34 am -

    I’m sorry your little one is sick, Maya. Fresh garlic may certainly help ease her symptoms, but please take note of the points mentioned above: garlic should be treated as a new food and thus introduced separately, with the consent of your child’s doctor. AND raw, fresh garlic is stronger than cooked in terms of flavour and its ability to trigger allergic reaction, so please offer only a little until you can assess how it affects your baby.

    My only reservation would be in offering the yogurt, which has a reputation for being a mucus-forming food (as are other dairy products). The garlic might be more effective stirred into a simple vegetable dish, or as an ingredient in a warming broth.

    Please let us know how your little one gets on.

  15. Michelle March 27, 2011 at 5:02 pm -

    I’ve noticed that my son has been sick several times when he’s had a meal that contains garlic, is it likely he is allergic?? The thing is, he has had garlic bread before and been fine (he really enjoyed it!) but he had it once at nursery and was sick a few hours later. I always put garlic in spaghetti bolognaise too which has never caused him a problem as it isn’t so obvious in taste and smell but when I used it in his apricot and tomato chicken (I used the correct amount from the recipe instructions) it smelt and tasted very strong and he was sick later that night. I also used a garlic and herb cream cheese on sandwiches once which made him sick a few hours later, at the time I thought it was the cheese.
    It only seems to be when it is very strong that it causes a sickness, is this possible or do you think it could be something else?? I don’t want to stop using it completely so maybe I should just keep an eye not to use too much?

  16. Christine March 28, 2011 at 2:06 pm -

    Hmm – if it’s an allergy, then it’s more likely that he’s experience a reaction EVERY time he ate it. It could possibly be that he’s just a little sensitive to it – so in smaller amounts he can tolerate it – or, as you say, it may be something else entirely! How old is your little boy?

  17. Rachel July 3, 2011 at 2:10 pm -

    My seven-month-old son loves garlic hummus. He eats it by the spoonful and it gives him garlic breath. I put it on everything I want him to try, plus it’s great for protein!

  18. Alissa October 3, 2011 at 12:17 am -

    My baby is only 3 1/2 months old, but I’m very sick and it looks like she’s getting sick, too. Do you think it would be ok to use this recipe for me as well as her? I found it from http://www.learningherbs.com/garlic_remedy.html

    “Garlic on my feet. Yes, you read right. Here’s what I do: I crush a few garlic cloves, put them in a little jar or bowl, and cover it just so in olive oil.

    In about a half hour, I rub the oil on my feet. I do this on my kids as well when they have a bad cough or they have a chest cold. For me, I also put the garlic pieces between my toes (but not for kids).

    Then, I put socks on for the night and go to sleep. When I wake up, I have garlic breath, so I know it works! No kidding! Garlic enters your system and heads straight for the lungs.”

  19. Christine October 3, 2011 at 6:08 am -

    Wow, that’s an interesting idea! I’m afraid you’d need to ask your doctor if it’s safe for you and your baby, though, as she is still very young. We’d love to know what your doctor says!

  20. els November 1, 2015 at 3:08 am -

    I personally can’t understand why anyone WOULDN’T want to introduce garlic…is it not common knowledge how good it is for you not to mention the flavour it can give to any savoury dish…

  21. Aimee February 11, 2017 at 12:25 am -

    Im a FTM to a 9 month old boy. I was wondering how often is it ok to give him fresh garlic? He’s been eating real food since 6 months and I came across this site looking to see if I could give some parmesean bites I had for dinner (they had garlic sauce on top and he loved them)

  22. Christine February 13, 2017 at 11:28 am -

    Hi Aimee – if it doesn’t seem to upset him in any way, then he can eat is as often as he enjoys it πŸ™‚ We are big garlic lovers and our little ones ate it as often as we did (probably daily!)

  23. Revhin June 16, 2017 at 5:29 pm -

    I have 3 kids and trying to give fresh garlic everytime they have colds and its magic. After a day or 2 days they well already. I mixed on their fresh orange juice for my big one 2 crushed garlic put in one freshly squished orange fruit and for my baby (under 1 year old) im giving just 1 crushed garlic to his 1/2 squished orange fruit.

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