Whether it’s a classic dish like corn on the cob, sweet corn, or even something yummy like corn muffins—corn is a favorite veggie for kids and adults alike. But can babies eat corn? Here’s what you need to know before giving your baby corn for the first time.
Yes, babies can eat corn, according to Dr. Whitney Casares. “Once babies start eating solid foods (at about four to six months of age), it's perfectly fine for them to eat corn,” she says.
However, babies cannot eat the vegetable in just any form. The doctor cautions against giving babies hard corn kernels until they are capable of chewing them thoroughly. She says, “This usually occurs at about twelve to eighteen months of age.”
Much like any food you serve a baby, especially for the first time, it’s crucial to properly prepare it. “When prepared in an age-appropriate method, corn can be a nutritious first food for babies,” says Katie Thomson, MS, RDN, co-founder and CEO of Square Baby.
So, while babies might look interested when they see other people chomping on large cobs at your next family barbeque or gathering—it can be dangerous to just let them dig in without making it the right way so they can eat it safely.
Yes, babies can digest corn, but not the entire kernel. “The outer shell of corn is made up of a tough fibrous shell of cellulose and isn’t digestible,” explains Thomson. “However, the inside of a corn kernel, which is nutrient-packed, is digestible.”
Dr. Cascares notes that if you feed your baby or toddler corn, you can see shells in their stool. However, this is pretty common and nothing to be concerned about.
It can feel as if just about everything is a choking hazard for babies. Unfortunately, you need to add corn to this list. “Given the small size and firm and slippery exterior, it’s not recommended to give babies whole, loose corn kernels as it’s a common choking hazard for babies under 18 months of age,” says Thomson.
Dr. Casares warns that you shouldn't serve corn until baby is ready for solids. “Once your child is ready to begin solid foods and you want to offer corn, start with the pureed variety. Once your child can completely chew solid foods (at about 12 months to 18 months), it's safe to offer whole kernels of corn,” she says.
This doesn’t mean you can’t give corn to a baby, as long as they don’t have corn allergies, but you need to cook corn and serve it in a way that’s safe and easy for them to eat. After all, you want baby to be excited about trying new foods.
It’s a great idea to serve infants various foods, and corn can certainly be on the menu. However, just like any other food, it must be prepared correctly. The easiest and best way to do this is by pureeing corn.
Fortunately, this isn’t too difficult a process. All you need is a good blender. “As a dietitian who has made over 100,000 meals by hand in a commercial kitchen — including pureeing hundreds of corn kernels, I can share that a good blender can help create the perfect consistency when pureeing corn,” says Thomson. “Once it’s a smooth consistency, load it up on a spoon and have your baby dig in.”
If you don’t have a blender, don’t fret. A decent food processor or hand blender can get the job done. Just check that the corn is thoroughly pureed before giving it to baby.
Remember that whether they are eating corn or another vegetable, it’s important to ensure babies are always supervised while eating to prevent choking.
Corn can be a good source of essential nutrients. “Corn is a nutrient-packed starchy vegetable high in carbohydrates, fiber and other nutrients,” says Thomson. “It’s also high in antioxidants, specifically in lutein and zeaxanthin that promote eye health.”
According to Dr. Casares, “Four to six months old is when most children start solid foods. It's also a great age to try feeding your little one corn as part of a varied diet.” However, she advises always checking with your child's pediatrician before beginning the solid food journey.
Yes, you can feed cornbread to a baby, but it shouldn’t contain whole kernels until they are 18 months old. There are other caveats to consider as well. “Cornbread can be dry and crumbly, which can be difficult for baby to chew and swallow,” says Thomson. She suggests topping it with plain yogurt, Greek yogurt, or ricotta cheese that’s low in sodium to add some moisture.
Lastly, whether cornbread is store-bought or homemade, Thomson says to always check the ingredient list or nutrition label. “Per the USDA's ‘Birth to 24 months’ guideline, it’s recommended to avoid or limit added sugar and salt, and completely avoid honey (raw or cooked).”
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