Garlic is a common ingredient in most recipes. It adds flavor, depth, and aroma to any dish it is added to, but is it safe for your baby? What are the risks of giving garlic to your baby? Are there any?
Garlic is safe to be given to babies 6 months old and older as long as it is prepared and served in an age-appropriate way.
Garlic makes an interesting addition for your baby – you just need to be mindful of the risks. In this article, we’ll discuss all you need to know about garlic and its introduction to your baby’s diet.
Is Garlic Safe for Babies? When?
Garlic is generally safe to be given to babies 6 months old and above. In fact, garlic contains great nutrients and offers some health benefits for your growing baby.
For the sake of this article, we are going to talk about the amount of garlic commonly found in food, and not supplements. You may also roast a garlic clove and offer it to your baby as an introduction to its flavor. Cooked garlic mellows out its taste. As there are plenty of ways to add garlic into your baby’s meal, let’s take a look at them one by one.
Garlic Powder– garlic powder is safe to be introduced to babies mixed with other foods. It should not be served to a baby as is. Powdered garlic still contains the same nutrients as that of fresh garlic. It is even seen to decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases (Source: NutritionReasearchandPractice).
Garlic Bread– garlic bread should only be given to babies occasionally, not because of the garlic but because of possible fat and sodium content from the butter. The bread should also be cut into age-appropriate sizes to avoid the risk of choking.
Garlic Salt– garlic salt is safe to be used for baby’s food flavoring, but do keep in mind the amount as it is still salt and contains sodium, which if consumed in excess can cause health problems.
Raw Garlic– it would be best to avoid serving raw garlic to babies as it can cause burns, especially on their sensitive skin (Source: TheAmericanJournalofEmergencyMedicine).
If your baby accidentally ingests raw garlic, observe them closely for at least 24 hours, as garlic may also cause stomach upsets. If problems such as vomiting ensue, contact your health care providers immediately.
Ginger and Garlic– ginger and garlic combination is safe for babies as long as it is used as aromatics and used in small amounts in food. It should not be given to babies as a tea, supplement, or any kind of home remedy as it can cause stomach upsets.
Onion and Garlic– onion and garlic are usually used for sauteing. This combination is safe to give to your baby as an ingredient of food in small amounts.
The Benefits of Garlic for Babies
Garlic offers great benefits for you and of course your baby’s health as well. It is full of nutrients such as vitamin C and B6, it also contains high amounts of selenium, calcium, and copper (Source: USDA). All of these nutrients are important for your baby’s increasingly fast brain and body development.
As we know vitamin C is a great antioxidant and helps rid the body of free radicals that can cause damage to cells (Source: Brauer), and Vitamin B6 has been studied to have a role in cardiovascular diseases and cancer prevention as well as its positive impact on brain health (Source: Harvard).
In addition, selenium, calcium, and copper have all been seen to be important for our skeletal integrity, copper and calcium are important for the formation and strength of our bones as selenium has been seen to have positive effects on cartilage health (Source: ExperimentalBiologyandMedicine).
However, do keep in mind that the amount of garlic being added to your baby’s food is minimal, thus the nutrients they may get from garlic may not be as relevant. Regardless, garlic is still a great addition to their diet be it for the nutrients, or simply just for its flavor.
Can Garlic Help Babies Who are Teething?
You may have heard that garlic can be a good remedy for an aching tooth, but would it offer the same effect for a teething baby?
First let’s discuss the cause of a toothache, for adults it is usually due to cavities caused by bacteria. As garlic contains allicin– a known compound that contains antibiotic properties, it may help with the cavity (Source: AvicennaJournalofPhytomedicine).
On the other hand, a teething baby’s case is completely different. The pain felt by a teething baby comes from an emerging tooth and not from bacteria. Therefore garlic is unlikely to help with the discomfort of a teething baby.
With that note, here are some great natural remedies for a teething baby:
- Gently massaging the gums with a clean finger
- Giving them cold (not frozen) teething toys which they can gnaw and the cold can offer more soothing
- And talking and playing with your baby to take their mind away from the discomfort (Source: FDA).
Can Babies Be Allergic to Garlic, or Can it Have Side Effects?
Garlic allergy is rare but not impossible. Only 4.6% of children have been reported to have sensitivity to garlic and other similar foods such as onion, chives, etc. (Source: AllergieetImmunologie).
Garlic may cause a reaction after even a tiny amount has been ingested, some even report of hives or rashes just from skin contact. Some symptoms to watch out for in case of a garlic allergic reaction include:
- Discomfort in the mouth such as itching, redness, and swelling
- Hives and redness around the area of contact
- Stomach issues such as stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting (Source: WebMD).
It has been shown that in some studies, garlic can also cause anaphylaxis which can be dangerous and requires immediate medical care (Source: AsthmaAllergyImmunology).
Overall, garlic is usually safe to offer to babies, once they are old enough, and in appropriate forms.