Introducing new foods to your baby is one of the most exciting milestones of early parenthood. It’s so adorable when they make a funny face as they try something new.
It gives you satisfaction knowing your little one is eating a wholesome diet. But it’s also a process requiring patience and research.
Introducing some foods too early may result in an allergic reaction or tummy aches. If it’s not soft, pureed, or given only in small quantities, it can also be a choking hazard.
Root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots are practically staple foods for babies — but what about mashed chickpeas? You might be wondering, “Can I give my baby hummus?” We’ll discuss the pros and cons and offer medically sound advice for introducing this healthy dip to babies.
- Introduce bland hummus (chickpeas and olive oil) to babies around 6 to 8 months, avoiding salt, tahini, or other spicy ingredients.
- Gradually add ingredients like garlic, lemon juice, and mild spices to the hummus as your baby reaches 12 months of age.
- Watch out for common allergenic ingredients in hummus like tahini, garlic, salt, and chickpeas themselves.
- When introducing new foods, do it one at a time and wait a few days before introducing another new food to identify any allergic reactions.
What Is Hummus?
Hummus is a mash of boiled chickpeas, usually with other ingredients such as garlic, tahini, and lemon juice. Hummus is a healthy snack, and it’s pretty tasty too. Adults generally eat it as a dip for vegetables or as a spread on crackers or bread.
You can purchase it or make it at home (we’ll share a recipe you can try).
Hummus has always been a popular side dish in the Middle East. It traces back to ancient times, although it’s uncertain where it originated. The recipe will vary depending on which country you visit.
Chickpea mash has a lot of beneficial properties. It’s rich in iron, protein, vitamin B6, vitamin E, and potassium. The added ingredients, such as garlic and olive oil, also pack a punch in terms of healthy nutrition (1).
When Can a Baby Eat Hummus?
Generally, you shouldn’t introduce solid foods to your baby before 6 months of age (2). Until then, babies get all the nutrition they need from formula or breast milk.
You can begin to introduce bland hummus around 6 to 8 months. Bland hummus is chickpeas and olive oil blended without added salt, tahini, or other spicy ingredients. Your baby’s digestive system is still developing, so certain ingredients can quickly upset it.
Tips for Introducing Hummus
Start gradually. Give your baby a tiny portion of hummus along with some of their favorite food. Wait three days before you introduce another new food. That way, if your baby has an adverse reaction, you’ll know the culprit is the hummus.
Give your baby a tiny portion of hummus along with some of their favorite foods. Wait three days before you introduce another new food. Then, if your baby has an adverse reaction, you’ll know the culprit is the hummus.
Although hummus is a superfood, shop-bought, mass-produced hummus can contain ingredients not suitable for small babies, including preservatives and emulsifiers.
If you make your own, once your baby reaches 12 months of age or so, you can begin to liven your recipe up a bit. Add some mild spices, lemon juice, and garlic.
In my medical practice, I discuss introducing proteins into the diet at the 6-month and 9-month well visits. If an infant began cereals at 4 months old and has tolerated some fruits and vegetables, I give the go-ahead to start meats and legumes. This includes chickpeas. Chickpeas are often one of the first proteins offered for families who follow a vegetarian diet. A small amount of seasoning is fine to add, making them more palatable, but I suggest limiting the amount of salt.
Per the updated AAP recommendations for allergenic foods, I also discuss introducing nut butters between 6 to 9 months old. Tahini is included in this category. After years of stating otherwise, early introduction of such foods has been found to be protective against the development of allergic reactions (3).
That said, these foods should still be introduced one at a time over three to five days to identify the offending food if an allergic reaction occurs.
Editor's Note:Dr. Leah Alexander, MD, FAAP
Ingredients to Watch Out For
Food allergies are a common worry when introducing new foods to your baby. For a long time, it was recommended to steer clear of allergenic ingredients that could potentially cause a reaction.
However, some experts now suggest that delaying the introduction of allergenic foods can increase the chances of food allergies. They recommend offering some of these ingredients as early as 6 months. Still, consult your pediatrician for guidance specific to your baby (4).
Here are some common hummus ingredients to watch out for:
Tahini is likely to be the most concerning ingredient found in hummus. Tahini is a paste consisting of roasted sesame seeds and oil blended into a smooth paste.
Sesame seeds are much like peanuts — they can cause severe allergic reactions. It’s one of the most allergenic foods there is.
It’s been discovered that many children have a sesame allergy before the age of 2. However, 20% of those who are initially allergic develop tolerance at around 3 years old (5).
Signs of sesame allergy in children usually range from an itchy mouth or hives to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction. If a reaction occurs, it’s generally right after consuming the ingredient. There may be no allergic reaction during the first taste, and these symptoms develop instead during subsequent exposures. For this reason, only one new food should be introduced at a time and for a few consecutive days.
If you have any concerns, it’s best to leave tahini out of hummus until 12 months of age.
As a precaution when starting any new food, it is a good idea to have a bottle of Benadryl in the home in case of an allergic reaction. If one does occur, call your pediatrician. I often review the weight-appropriate dose of Benadryl during well visits as an additional precaution.
Editor's Note:Dr. Leah Alexander, MD, FAAP
Garlic is a primary ingredient in hummus and adds significant health benefits to the mash. You should still be a little careful, though.
Raw garlic has a powerful taste, and most hummus recipes call for fresh. Because of this, there is a chance of an allergic reaction. It can also cause gas, which may make your little one uncomfortable.
While garlic isn’t an ingredient to steer completely away from, it’s best to proceed with caution. Add it gradually to your hummus, and observe your baby’s reaction to it.
If you’re making the hummus from scratch, this isn’t a huge concern. You can keep it out or add a small pinch. If you opt for store-bought, watch out for the salt content.
Too much-added salt can meddle with your baby’s developing kidneys. Babies under 1 year of age shouldn’t consume more than .03-ounce (1 gram) of salt per day (6).
Yes, the main ingredient in hummus is also one you should watch out for. Chickpeas are excellent as long as consumption is moderate. They tend to cause gas, which can make your little one uncomfortable or fussy.
If your baby is prone to gas and tummy-related issues, perhaps hold off on the hummus until 8 months or more.
Baby-Friendly Hummus Recipe
Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- A 14-ounce can of pre-cooked chickpeas (no added salt).
- Two tablespoons of tahini (leave this out if concerned).
- Two to three tablespoons of lemon juice.
- Two crushed and peeled cloves of garlic.
- Two to three tablespoons of olive oil.
Here’s what you do:
- Drain the chickpeas: Drain the water and place them in a food processor together with the other ingredients.
- Blend: Blend the ingredients on slow speed for a couple of minutes until smooth.
- Check consistency: Grab a spoon and inspect the texture. If it’s too thick or grainy, add more olive oil or a little water.
- Serve: Once it’s nice and creamy, you’re ready to serve it.