When can babies eat bell peppers?
Bell peppers may be introduced as soon as your baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Raw vegetables like bell peppers can be a choking hazard for babies and toddlers so check out our age-specific preparation suggestions.
Background and origins of bell peppers
Our planet is home to more than 50,000 varieties of peppers, which are native to Central America and beloved by cultures worldwide as a spice, condiment, and vegetable (though technically, a pepper is a fruit). The ubiquitous bell pepper that we know and love does not contain capsaicin, the chemical compound that causes chili peppers to taste “hot” and “spicy” on the human tongue. Instead, bell peppers, also known as capsicum or simply pepper, are typically sweet and sometimes ever-so-slightly bitter. The taste depends on the color: green and purple bell peppers tend to be more bitter than red, orange, and yellow bell peppers, which have a fruity taste. Did you know that red, orange, and yellow bell peppers are actually green bell peppers that have ripened longer on the vine?
Are bell peppers healthy for babies?
Yes. Bell peppers are packed with vitamins A and C, two key nutrients that babies need for their eyesight, skin, and immune system development. In fact, peppers offer more vitamin C per serving than an orange! Peppers also offer vitamin B6, which fuels your baby with energy and helps their small bodies produce hormones that regulate mood, sleep cycles, and other bodily functions.
Keep in mind that a bell pepper’s nutritional profile changes by color. Orange, red, and yellow bell peppers are top sources of beta-carotene and other carotenoids (both of which are needed to make vitamin A), while purple and brown bell peppers are high in anthocyanins, the same antioxidant in blueberries and blackberries.
Red and yellow peppers also have higher amounts of vitamin C. Serve them alongside iron-rich foods like beans or lentils, and the vitamin C will help your baby’s body absorb the plant-based iron in the legumes. (Iron is an essential nutrient at this stage in your baby’s life.)
Are bell peppers a common choking hazard for babies?
Yes. Raw vegetables can be a choking hazard. To reduce the risk, you can cook the peppers until soft and chop, or offer raw bell pepper sliced thinly. Check out our age-appropriate serving suggestions.
Is bell pepper a common allergen?
No. True allergy to bell peppers is uncommon. However, bell peppers are part of the nightshade family of plants, which includes eggplant, huckleberries, goji berries, peppers, tomatillos, tomatoes, and white potatoes, as well as spices made from peppers, such as cayenne and paprika. Sensitivity to the alkaloids in nightshades is relatively common.
As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity on its own for the first couple of servings, and watch closely as your baby eats. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the serving size over time.
How do you prepare bell peppers for babies with baby-led weaning?
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience. Your child is an individual and may have needs or considerations beyond generally accepted practices. In determining the recommendations for size and shape of foods, we use the best available scientific information regarding gross, fine, and oral motor development to minimize choking risk. The preparation suggestions we offer are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for child-specific, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional or provider. It is impossible to fully eliminate all risk of a baby or child choking on any liquid, puree, or food. We advise you to follow all safety protocols we suggest to create a safe eating environment and to make educated choices for your child regarding their specific needs. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
6 to 9 months old: Offer halves or quarters of roasted or cooked bell pepper, with the pith, seeds, skin, and stem removed. You can also try introducing raw bell pepper at this stage; just remove the pith, seeds, and stem, and slice very thinly.
9 to 12 months old: At this age your baby is likely developing their pincer grasp where the pointer finger and thumb meet. This means they are able to pick up small pieces of food more easily and as such, it’s a good time to move down in size considerably. Try offering chopped cooked bell pepper with pith, seeds, skin, and stem removed. You may also offer thinly sliced raw bell pepper.
12 to 24 months old: Continue to serve chopped cooked bell pepper with the pith, seeds, skin, and stem removed or thinly sliced raw bell pepper. Don’t be surprised if your child still spits out bites of the food. It takes time to get used to the mouthfeel of raw vegetables and learning to spit food out is a critical part of learning to eat. As the child approaches 18 months of age and you see signs of mature eating skills, consider offering larger pieces of raw bell pepper, like a quarter or a half of a pepper.
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
To easily remove the skin of a bell pepper: cut in half; remove the pith, seeds, and stem; and toss in high heat oil (such as avocado oil), then roast, cut-side down, until they collapse. Once cool, the skin can be easily peeled away. Putting the peppers in a paper bag after cooking will also do the trick!
Recipe: Roasted Bell Peppers with Ricotta
- 3-4 red bell peppers
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- ½ cup ricotta cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Wash the peppers. Cut in half lengthwise. Remove the pith, seeds, and stem.
- Toss the peppers with oil and place cut-side down on a parchment-lined sheet try. Roast until they collapse, about 30 minutes.
- Remove the peppers from the oven. Once cool enough to handle, peel back the skin and discard.
- Finely chop the cooked peppers and serve atop ricotta cheese.
The sweet acidity of bell peppers pairs well with creamy foods like goat cheese, mozzarella, and yogurt; protein-rich foods like beans, beef, chicken, and shellfish; and foods with healthy fats like avocado and nuts. Try mixing fresh herbs like basil into pepper dishes for extra brightness!