When Can My Baby Have Butter?

baby eating toast

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It's Sunday morning, and in your house, that means pancakes. As you butter them up for your older kids, a question crosses your mind: Can my 7-month-old have butter on their cut-up cakes? The answer is sort of.

A small amount of butter is not necessarily dangerous for your baby, but it is not recommended as a regular part of your baby's diet.

"You can safely give your baby butter but there is no need to add it to your baby's diet," says Preeti Parikh, a pediatrician and the executive medical director at GoodRx. "Butter is not exceptionally nutritious." Read on to learn more about why butter shouldn't be a daily staple in your baby's diet just yet.

Is Butter Safe for My Baby?

You can safely feed a limited amount of unsalted butter to babies over 6 months of age. "Unless your baby is allergic to dairy, it is safe to introduce it at this age," says Kristian Morey, RD, LDN, a clinical dietitian with the Nutrition and Diabetes Education program at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.

Salted butter is not considered safe because infants' kidneys cannot cope with high levels of salt.

It's fine for your baby to eat foods that have been prepared with butter from time to time, but you should avoid giving them toast spread with butter or using butter to make vegetables more palatable. Butter is not a necessary part of your baby's diet and too much can be problematic. "In general, it is a good idea to make sure that your child is getting a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein sources in their diet and to not overly limit or emphasize one particular food or condiment," says Morey.

Every baby is different. Be sure to consult with a pediatrician if you have any questions about giving your infant butter.

Benefits of Giving Baby Butter

A limited amount of butter may have some benefits for your baby. Butter is almost entirely fat, which is essential for brain development. "If your child is struggling with weight gain, it can also help with extra calories," notes Dr. Parikh.

Butter also contains several important nutrients like beta-carotene, which supports visual development, and calcium, which supports bone growth.

Safety Precautions

A small amount of butter won't hurt your baby, but there are a few important safety considerations to keep in mind when feeding your baby butter.

Allergy Risk

Butter is a potential allergen. "Dairy allergies are common, so it's important to be aware that butter could trigger a reaction in your child," says Morey.

If you know that your baby is allergic to cow's milk, they might be allergic to butter too. However, some children with cow's milk allergies can tolerate butter. The first time your baby eats butter, it is wise to observe them for signs of allergic reaction and not introduce any other new foods for a few days.

Ensure Melted Butter Has Cooled

Melted butter can get very hot which can cause serious burns to the mouth or skin. Even if the burns aren't serious, they can still be hot enough to hurt your child.

Instead of letting your little one dip food into melted butter, spread it onto the food ahead of time and allow it to cool for a minute or two. Test the food yourself before allowing your baby to eat it.

Only Give Your Baby a Little Bit

Although butter has a few benefits, it is best not to make it a regular part of your baby's diet. Eating more than a small amount of butter is not recommended. Your baby should try vegetables, starches, and protein sources plain to learn how they taste and to make sure they are getting the nutrients they need. "Butter is also very filling, so it may prevent your baby from eating other nutritious foods," says Dr. Parikh.

Stick to Unsalted Butter

Butter generally comes in two varieties: salted and unsalted. Unsalted butter is used for baking and salted butter is generally used for cooking or spreading on toast. Always choose unsalted butter for your baby. Babies should not have added salt in their diets.

When and How to Introduce Butter

You can introduce butter any time after your baby starts solids. This will generally be around 6 months old when they show signs of readiness such as interest in food and the ability to hold their head up.

You can mix butter into any kind of food. "I recommend using unsalted butter in moderation on other foods your baby enjoys," says Morey.

If your baby can drink cow's milk without an issue, allergies are most likely not a concern. If your baby is allergic to cow's milk, they can try butter without introducing other new foods for a few days. Some babies will be able to tolerate butter even if they are allergic to milk.

What Amount of Butter Should I Give My Baby?

It is important to use butter sparingly when preparing food for your baby. Any time you can skip the butter, it is best to do so. Otherwise, just use a little bit.

A Word From Verywell

Babies over 6 months old can safely eat butter, but they should only eat a little bit here and there. Butter should not be a regular part of their diet and it should not be used to make new foods taste better.

Remember that butter may be an ingredient in many baked foods or restaurant food and be mindful of how often your baby has these things. It's fine if your baby tries some food when you eat out or if you bake something at home, but try to make sure it's not too often. If you eat out frequently, consider bringing food along for your baby to eat at the table.

If you do feed your baby butter, always choose unsalted butter. The salt in salted butter is too hard on your baby's kidneys and should be avoided. If you have any questions or concerns about your baby eating butter, always reach out to their pediatrician.

7 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Elisa Cinelli
Elisa is a well-known parenting writer who is passionate about providing research-based content to help parents make the best decisions for their families. She has written for well-known sites including POPSUGAR and Scary Mommy, among others.