Bread For Babies: Safety, Right Age, Precautions, And Recipes

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Parents, especially new ones, often appear to struggle with determining what to feed their infants. Bread for babies can be considered as the first food as it contains a variety of nutrients such as carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and micronutrients. It is made from wheat flour and is a common food for many people worldwide. However, because wheat is a common allergen, take measures while feeding wheat bread to babies for the first time (1).

This post discusses the nutritional content of bread, when you should start feeding your baby wheat bread, and what precautions you should take when feeding it to babies.

Is It Safe To Give Bread To Babies?

Yes, bread is safe for babies. Experts recommend feeding 100% whole-wheat bread as it can provide considerable amounts of carbohydrates, protein, dietary fiber, and essential micronutrients, like iron, zinc, and thiamin (2). However, while adding it to your baby’s weaning diet, check for possible sensitivity or allergic reactions, especially if you or anyone in your family has a history of allergies.

Babies with a confirmed wheat allergy should avoid all wheat products, including baby cereals, bread, pasta, and crackers. Most infants outgrow wheat allergy within early childhood (3) (4).

Look for breads that do not contain any additives and preservatives such as BHA, BHT, wheat gluten. Choose the breads that have ingredients such as whole sprouted grains and seeds with minimal or no added oil.

When Can You Give Bread To Babies?

According to the UK National Health Service, you can introduce bread to babies from the age of six months (5). Bread can be among the first foods when a six-month-old begins eating solids. Pick fresh, 100% whole-wheat bread without any seeds or nuts (6). Serve lightly-toasted bread, cut in small pieces that are easy to swallow for a baby without the risk of choking.

Nutritive Value Of Bread

Below is the proximate composition comparison of one medium-sized slice of refined bread, whole wheat bread, and enriched bread (7) (8) (9). Whole-wheat bread is made from whole-wheat flour that contains all the nutritious parts of the wheat grain, namely bran, germ, and endosperm, while refined wheat flour only contains the endosperm. Enriched bread is made from enriched flour, which is refined flour fortified with nutrients that were lost during the milling process.

NameWhole-wheat breadRefined breadEnriched bread
Energy (Kcal)90.774.569.9
Protein (g)4.482.482
Carbohydrate, by difference (g)15.413.813
Fiber, total dietary (g)2.160.7560
Calcium, Ca (mg)5840.325
Magnesium, Mg (mg)276.440
Phosphorus, P (mg)76.327.40
Potassium, K (mg)91.435.320
Sodium, Na (mg)164137120
Thiamin (mg)0.1420.1490
Riboflavin (mg)0.060.0680.1
Niacin (mg)1.61.341.1
Folate, total (µg)15.131.125*
Choline, total (mg)9.794.090

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture 

How Much Bread Should You Give To Your Infant?

Whole-wheat bread in moderation can be an important part of a well-balanced diet. Below is the daily suggested intake for grains, including bread, for babies (10) (11).

Age (months)Suggested daily serving 
6 to 81 to 2 ounces (28-56 grams) of iron-fortified infant cereals, bread, and small pieces of crackers and half slice of whole-wheat bread per day
8 to 122 to 4 ounces (56-113 grams) of iron-fortified cereals, other grains, bread, crackers, noodles, tortilla pieces, etc and one large, one medium, and one small slice of whole-wheat bread per day

Source: NCBI and South Dakota WIC Program

Precautions To Take While Giving Bread To Babies

Here are some simple precautions to ensure the safe intake of bread for babies and toddlers.

  1. Prefer whole-wheat bread to refined or enriched bread. Look for “100% Whole-Wheat” labels on the bread packaging.
  2. Not every “brown bread” is 100% whole-wheat bread. Check the ingredients for the mention of 100% whole-wheat flour. Also, check for the percentage of whole-wheat. Use bread made from 100% whole-wheat flour.
  3. Avoid multi-grain whole-wheat bread since it may contain seeds and nuts. Only pick single grain (whole-wheat) bread to avoid possible allergic reactions.
  4. Go for low sodium and no-added sweetener varieties. Also, check for the presence of any other additives, such as food color.
  5. Check the manufacturing date and “best before” or “use by” date. Prefer fresh bread.
  6. Follow a “three to five-day wait” while introducing bread to rule out sensitivities or allergies towards wheat. Add no new food while you are feeding bread to your baby.
  7. General symptoms of wheat allergy are hives, wheezing, stomach ache, and diarrhea, occurring immediately after the baby eats food made with wheat (1) (3). Babies that experience bloating, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach ache but no wheezing or hives are likely to have wheat sensitivity or celiac disease (12) (13). It can be hard to distinguish symptoms of wheat allergy or sensitivity from those of celiac disease (14). Therefore, stop feeding wheat products to the baby and consult a doctor for the precise diagnosis.
  8. Babies with wheat allergy or wheat sensitivity can have bread made from flours of almonds, legumes, and tubers. Take your pediatrician’s opinion before introducing these alternative options. Ancient grains such as millet, quinoa, buckwheat, and teff make nutritious breads.
  9. If wheat suits the baby, then feed whole-wheat bread in moderation and as part of a well-balanced diet. Overconsumption may fill up the baby’s tummy and leave no space for breast milk and other foods.
  10. Toast the bread and cut it into small pieces that are easy to swallow. If the baby does not like the bread, wait for a few days and try again. You can also introduce bread in combination with other foods, such as vegetable and fruit purees.
  11. Babies above eight months of age can consume small, bite-sized lightly toasted bread, breadsticks, bread crusts, and pitta bread as finger foods (15).
  12. For toddlers who eat a wide variety of solids, you can consider trying other types of bread, such as whole-grain cornbread, whole-grain or sprouted rye bread, whole-grain multi-grain bread, sourdough bread, and flax bread, after consulting a pediatrician.

Tasty Bread Recipes For Babies

You can feed bread to your baby as a simple toast or by soaking it in a small quantity of warm milk. Alternatively, you may use the following recipes.

1. Jammy bread fingers

Jammy bread for babies

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock 

The easy-to-prepare finger food recipe can be a part of your baby’s breakfast meal.

You will need:
  • 1 whole-wheat bread slice
  • 1tsp blueberry jam (or any jam of choice)
How to:
  1. Slice the whole-wheat bread into thin fingers.
  2. Apply jam to these slices of bread and serve immediately.
  3. You can slightly toast the bread before slicing.

2. Buttery banana bread slices

Buttery slice of banana bread for babies

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A perfect finger food recipe made with nutritious ingredients, like fresh fruits and peanut butter. This is suitable for toddlers.

You will need:
  • 1 banana bread slice
  • 1tsp plain peanut butter (without peanut chunks)
  • 1tbsp tiny mixed fruit pieces (mango and strawberry)
How to:
  1. Spread the peanut butter on the banana bread slice and decorate with tiny mixed fruit pieces.
  2. Serve immediately with a cup of warm milk or fresh homemade veggie juice.
  3. You can add toasted sesame seeds and flaxseeds to this recipe.

3. Multi-grain French toast

French toast with multigrain bread for babies

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French toast is a delicious traditional treat for babies above 12 months of age.

You will need:
  • Multi-grain bread slice
  • ¼tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1tsp brown sugar
  • 2tbsp butter
  • 1 egg
  • ⅛ cup whole milk
  • 1tsp maple syrup
How to:
  1. Add cinnamon, sugar, egg, and milk in a small bowl, whisk well and set aside.
  2. Keep a skillet over medium heat and put butter onto it to melt.
  3. Dip the bread in the egg mixture and then place it on the skillet to fry.
  4. Fry the slice until it turns golden brown from both the sides.
  5. Drizzle some maple syrup and serve the French toast while still warm.

4. Cheesy mini sandwiches

Cheesy mini sandwiches for babies

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Mini sandwiches are a healthy snack option for babies and toddlers.

You will need:
  • 2  whole-wheat bread slices
  • 1tsp mint sauce
  • 1tsp tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup cucumber (grated)
  • 1tbsp cream cheese
How to:
  1. Take a small mixing bowl and mix mint sauce, tomato sauce, and cream cheese in it.
  2. Spread a thick layer of the mixture to one slice, top with grated cucumber, and cover with another slice.
  3. Press the sandwich gently and cut it into four small squares.
  4. Serve immediately with fresh vegetable juice or a cup of warm milk.
  5. You can also add cooked cottage cheese to this recipe to intensify its nutritional value.

5. Bread upma

Upma with bread for babies

Image: Shutterstock

A healthy and delicious recipe suitable for babies above ten months of age.

You will need:
  • 1 cup crumbled whole-wheat bread
  • 2tbsp peanuts
  • 1tsp lemon juice
  • 1 small onion (chopped)
  • 1 small tomato (diced)
  • 1tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 1tbsp oil
  • 4-5 curry leaves
How to:
  1. Put oil in a thick bottom pan, add peanuts, and fry them for ten seconds.
  2. Add mustard seeds, curry leaves, and onion and fry until onions turn golden brown.
  3. Now, add tomato, turmeric, and salt, and cook for five minutes.
  4. Add crumbled bread to the mix and give a nice toss. Cook for five minutes with the lid closed.
  5. Transfer the cooked bread upma to a serving plate, add lemon juice, and serve.

Alternatives Of Bread For Babies

Some food items that can be alternatives to bread for babies are:

  • Whole-wheat pancakes
  • Oats pancakes
  • Millet pancakes
  • Whole-wheat chapatis
  • Corn tortillas

Bread for babies can be a great first food because of its nutrient-rich components. It is prepared from wheat flour and contains carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and minerals. While several types of bread are available, 100% whole-wheat bread and bread made with diverse grains, legumes, and seeds are preferred. However, since wheat is a common allergen in babies, follow a “wait rule” when introducing bread to babies to watch out for any adverse reactions. You should also search for bread that is free of additives and preservatives.

Key Pointers

  • Whole wheat bread provides multiple nutrients to the babies.
  • As per the UK National Health Service, you can introduce bread to six-month-old babies.
  • Knowing the right ways to include bread in their routine is the key.

1. Common Food Allergies; Healthy Children; American Academy of Pediatrics
2. Whole Grains Fact Sheet; International Food Information Council Foundation
3. Wheat Allergy; American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
4. Cereals and Grains; University of Nebraska Lincoln
5. Your baby’s first solid foods; NHS
6. Choking Hazards; CDC
7. Bread, whole wheat, FDC ID: 784596 ; Fooddata Central, USDA
8. Bread, white; FDC ID: 784477; Fooddata Central, USDA
9. Enriched bread; Fooddata Central, USDA
10. Michelle Klerks, et al.Infant Cereals: Current Status, Challenges, and Future Opportunities for Whole Grains, Nutrients (2019).
11. Feeding Guide: 6-12 Months; South Dakota Department of Health
12. Should you cut out bread to stop bloating?; NHS13. Symptoms of Celiac Disease; Celiac Disease Foundation
14. Myth vs. fact: Celiac disease vs. wheat allergy; Food Allergy Canada
15. Weaning your baby; Government of UK
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Deepa Deshmukh

(MPH, RDN, CDE)
Deepa Deshmukh practices integrative nutrition in the Greater Chicago Area. She focuses on culinary nutrition and gut health to treat patients with chronic health conditions. Under the brand ‘Nutritionist Deepa,’ she promotes plant-based products to schools, workplaces, and other institutions. On her podcast, ‘Ask Nutritionist Deepa,’ she recipes and holds conversations on healthy eating. 

Swati Patwal

Swati Patwal is a clinical nutritionist and toddler mom with over eight years of experience in diverse fields of nutrition. She started her career as a CSR project coordinator for a healthy eating and active lifestyle project catering to school children. Then she worked as a nutrition faculty and clinical nutrition coach in different organizations. Her interest in scientific writing... more