Rhubarb for Babies

Rhubarb gets a bad reputation for its sour taste; however, knowing how to prepare it gives your baby an excellent source of K1 and fiber. 

What is Rhubarb?

Throughout history, rhubarb has been used for culinary and medicinal purposes. You can eat rhubarb raw, but you probably won’t enjoy it. It has a sour, bitter taste, so most people prefer to cook it with sugar. Rhubarb became a popular addition to pies and other desserts in the 18th and 19th centuries after sugar became widely available in England. Today, rhubarb is used in a similar way and is commonly paired with strawberries to balance its bitter flavor.

Rhubarb looks like celery, but prettier. You should only eat the pink stalks of the rhubarb plant as the leaves contain high levels of a poisonous chemical called oxalic acid.

How to Choose Rhubarb

Look for plump, firm, and crisp stalks. If the leaves are still attached, they should look fresh and not wilted.

Rhubarb can range in color from pale green to deep red. Go with the dark red stalks since they are sweeter with a more intense flavor. If there aren’t any available, though, green is fine. The color depends on growing conditions and genetics.

Serving Rhubarb to Baby 

Rhubarb may be introduced as soon as a baby is ready to start solids, which is around 6 months of age or whenever your pediatrician gives the green light. 

Moderation is key when giving Baby rhubarb, despite its nutritional benefits. Excessive consumption of rhubarb may distress Baby's liver, gut, and kidneys. This may be due to rhubarb’s high concentration of oxalates, a naturally occurring plant compound that usually does not pose a problem when consumed in moderation. When consumed in excess, oxalates can reduce the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients like calcium and iron. Cooking helps reduce oxalates in rhubarb. If you have concerns, talk to your pediatrician before serving rhubarb to Baby.

How to Prepare Rhubarb for Baby

There are a few different ways to prepare rhubarb for your little ones. 

For baby food: For babies 6 to 12 months, cook chopped rhubarb stalks until soft. You can add this to fruits like peaches, apples, pears or strawberries and purée to desired consistency. Remember that rhubarb has a tangy flavor so you can add rhubarb to any dish that needs a tangy pop of flavor.

For baby led weaning: For babies 12-24 months old, serve chopped, cooked rhubarb stalks with scoopable foods. You can add spices like cardamom, cinnamon, or ginger to balance the tart flavor. Toddlers can manage raw rhubarb, but consider slicing it thin to reduce choking risk.