Can Toddlers Eat Pesto?

Short answer
Almost all pesto sauces are perfectly safe for toddlers to eat. As always, check the label for allergens.

Long answer
Unless your toddler has known allergens, pesto is perfectly fine to introduce to their diet. In fact, pesto can be introduced as soon as a baby starts weaning at around 6 months.

The most important thing to look out for is the salt and citrus content of the sauce, because neither of these should be fed to youngsters in excess. The good thing about pesto is that a little goes a long way, and if you use some of your starchy pasta water to emulsify your sauce, you'll find you can use even less.

There are two caveats, though, both of which relate to the huge variety of "unusual" pestos on the market. Believe it or not, you can find a pesto that contains 'nduja, a spicy, spreadable sausage that bears similarities to chorizo. The jury is out on whether it's OK to feed cured meats to toddlers, so we can only recommend that you do your own research.

Some parents think that introducing a small amount of cured meat to a toddler's diet is fine. Others prefer to steer well clear of any salty, processed foods, many of which will contain nitrites. Your call.

Other non-standard pesto ingredients include everything from curried cauliflower to olives to chilli. While not un-safe for youngsters, you may find their palettes are not quite ready for such bold flavours.

Having said that, we firmly believe that introducing youngsters to a wide range of foods is a great way to start them on a journey of becoming adventurous eaters when they're older.

Bring on the offal, oysters, and experimental pesto sauces!