A friend asked me recently when I thought babies could eat runny eggs. Since I’m not a fan of them myself, my default response was – don’t bother! However, I assumed she wanted a real answer, so I decided to do some sleuthing and see if I could find out a better answer.
The age at which your babies can eat runny eggs differs depending on where you live. In the United States, the CDC recommends against anyone of any age eating runny eggs. However, in the UK and Australia, babies can safely eat runny eggs at six- and 12-months-old, respectively.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Americans shouldn’t ever feed their babies runny eggs or that they can’t eat them themselves – it just means you need to do so with the risks in mind. Keep reading to find out more about how to feed your baby runny eggs safely.
When Can My Baby Have Runny Eggs?
Before I answer that question, let’s back up a bit and define precisely what a runny egg is. Runny eggs are essentially any style of cooking eggs that leaves the yolk runny and undercooked. The most popular forms of runny eggs include:
- Undercooked eggs
- Poached eggs
- Sunny-side-up eggs
- Soft-boiled eggs
- Eggs over easy
- Eggs over medium
Raw eggs are another form of runny eggs, but you should never feed your baby raw eggs, no matter where you live in the world.
Now, as for when your little one can consume runny eggs, there’s a bit more variation from country to country. In the United States, the CDC recommends against ever consuming runny eggs. However, they also realize that people probably won’t follow that rule. With that in mind, they have offered the following advice:
You should wait until a child is at least five years old before feeding them runny eggs in the US. At that age, their immune systems will be better able to fight off any potential bacteria or diseases that they may get from the eggs (source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
You should also do whatever possible to minimize the risk of salmonella. The CDC’s first recommendation is to cook your eggs thoroughly so that both the yolks and whites are well cooked all the way through – of course, with runny eggs, that isn’t possible.
However, you can follow the CDC’s other recommendations:
- Purchase refrigerated and pasteurized eggs from reputable grocery stores.
- Refrigerate your eggs immediately at 40°F (4°C) or colder upon bringing them home.
- Don’t buy eggs that are cracked, broken, or unrefrigerated. Toss any such eggs that you find at home.
- Thoroughly and immediately clean surfaces, dishes, your hands, and anything else that has been in contact with raw eggs.
- Don’t eat any eggs that have been left at room temperature for two hours or longer (or one hour, in the case of extremely hot temperatures).
- Don’t eat raw eggs or anything with raw eggs in it (like cookie dough, cake batter, etc.).
However, in the UK, babies can safely eat British Lion-marked eggs as early as six-months-old. (source: United Kingdom National Health Service).
Eggs marked with the red British Lion are certified by the British Lion Code of Practice and are at very low risk for salmonella. Eggs stamped with the red lion have passed inspection in more than 700 criterion fields, including, but not limited to:
- The eggs are from hens vaccinated against Salmonella Typhimurium and Salmonella Enteritidis.
- The eggs are from hens fed using the British Lion’s strict feed controls.
- The eggs are “registered” and adhere to the British Lion’s “passport system,” which allows you to trace each egg back to the hen that laid it and the food that hen ate.
- The eggs and the hens that laid them are certified British (source: Egg Info British Lion Eggs).
Because the eggs are so safe, parents can feel confident feeding them to their babies, even in a runny state, as soon as the babies are old enough to begin eating solid foods – which is usually around six months.
According to a well-known Australian parenting site, Australian parents can also begin feeding their babies runny eggs much earlier than American parents.
Australian parents are also encouraged to start feeding their babies solid foods when they reach six months old.
However, the website urges parents to wait until the babies are at least a year old to feed them certain foods, including runny eggs or foods that contain raw eggs, such as homemade mayonnaise (source: Raising Children, The Australian Parenting Website).
That’s because the bacteria in some eggs may be harmful to babies under a year old. Other foods that the website recommends that parents should wait on include:
- Fruit juice
- Soy milk
- Pasteurized, full-fat cow’s milk (as a primary source of milk)
- Reduced-fat dairy
- Whole nuts
- Goat’s milk
If you have any concerns about a specific food you’re hoping to introduce your little one to, simply check your country’s relevant health websites for more information.
If you live in the United States, anytime you or your baby eats a runny egg, you’re doing so “at your own risk,” as far as the CDC is concerned.
However, as long as you take proper precautions and do everything possible to minimize the risk of salmonella, you and your little one (as long as they’re five years old or older, and have no egg allergies) will probably be just fine.