Get the scoop on bone broth for babies! I’ll answer all of your questions on this topic and share my favorite bone broth for baby recipe. Learn which bone broth is best for babies, is bone broth safe for infants, and more. You can use bone broth as part of baby led weaning, but there is a right and a wrong time to introduce it.
Is bone broth bad for babies? Bone broth has long been used in cultures across the globe as a nourishing food for young and old. Once your baby is ready for solid food (at around 6 months), you can try this baby bone broth recipe.
Bone broth is not a replacement for breast milk or infant formula. Though bone broth is nutrient dense, it should also not displace solid foods in the diet. Bone broth is low in calories, and overconsumption in babies and toddlers may lead to slowed growth or growth failure.
There are a lot of unfounded claims about the magical healing properties of bone broth on the web. It's true that bone broth is hydrating and contains some protein and minerals.
However, the major source of protein in bone broth (collagen/gelatin) is not considered a complete protein. This means it doesn’t contain all of the essential amino acids in ratios humans need to thrive. It’s a bad idea to count on bone broth as your only protein source.
Collagen is rich in glycine and proline, two conditionally essential amino acids. If you’re healthy and your diet contains adequate complete protein, these two amino acids aren’t essential.
That said, there are some benefits of bone broth for babies covered in the next section. Just please don’t count on it as a health panacea or a substitute for breast milk or formula.
- ⭐ Bone Broth Benefits for Babies
- 🥘 Bone Broth for Baby Ingredients
- 🍽 Equipment
- 🔪 How to Make Bone Broth for Babies
- ⏲️ Cooking Time and Temperature
- 🌡️ Bone Broth Storage
- 🥣 What’s the difference between meat broth and meat stock?
- 📋 Calories, Net Carbs, Protein
- 💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
- ❓ Which type of bone broth is best for babies?
- 👩🏻🍳 Recipes Using Bone Broth
- The Disclaimer…
- 📖 Recipe
- Bone Broth for the Family
- 💬 Comments
⭐ Bone Broth Benefits for Babies
Why make this bone broth for babies recipe? Here’s why you should make this easy bone broth:
- Unsalted bone broth: Most of the store bought bone broth options are loaded with salt, not appropriate for babies. With homemade bone broth for baby, you can make a no salt version. This broth is great for people on low sodium diets as well.
- Soothing: Bone broth is very easy to digest and feels soothing to the digestive system (and the soul). We can’t make health claims about bone broth healing eczema (some say it makes it better, others worse). However, many of us would say warm broth helps us feel better when we’re a little cranky or under the weather.
- Introduce baby to new tastes: Bone broth is one of many things you can give to a baby starting solids to introduce them to new flavors.
- Nutritious: In addition to providing gelatin and collagen, as discussed above, bone broth provides some minerals. Calcium and magnesium, two bone building minerals, are found in small amounts in healthy bone broth.
- Cheap: Bone broth is essentially free to make, using a carcass from a turkey or chicken, or beef bones. Purchasing a whole chicken tends to be much less per pound than purchasing chicken breasts and broth separately. Small cartons of high-quality bone broths and stocks can run $5-10 and up.
- Hands off: This bone broth recipe is great for busy parents because it is almost completely hands off. Just dump the ingredients in a crock pot or pressure cooker and let it cook. Also, bone broth freezes well and can be used for meal prep.
- No equal: There’s no plant based equivalent for delicious bone broths. Vegan veggie broths provide other types of nutrients not found in bone broth and vice versa.
🥘 Bone Broth for Baby Ingredients
The only items you need to make bone broth for babies are bones (beef, chicken, or turkey), water, and apple cider vinegar. This is plain bone broth; add vegetables, herbs, and spices as baby is introduced to them. I have tips on modifying this recipe for the whole family in the recipe card below.
Looking for bones from grass fed, grass finished, and/or pastured animals? Here’s my favorite place to get them.
I like to add a little apple cider vinegar to my broth because it helps break down the bones a bit more. After pressure cooking, the bones I use are typically very soft, and some may crumble easily. They’ve been used to their fullest extent, and some of their minerals have shifted into the broth.
If you’re making chicken bone broth, add chicken feet for extra collagen in your broth. (That might sound like a weird suggestion, but chicken feet broth is pretty much the best bone broth. Trust me on this!)
An Instant Pot or multicooker is not required to make bone broth. It is fine to go the old-fashioned route and boil your bones for hours in a stockpot if you’d prefer. You could also use a slow cooker.
However, the pressure-cooking function on the Instant Pot can save a lot of time. You can have hearty bone broth after a mere hour of pressure cooking. This is light speed when it comes to making bone broths and stocks from scratch.
I use a Crock-Pot express crock programmable multi-cooker. It is listed as having a 6-quart capacity. The inside of the pot has markings showing the minimum and maximum liquid capacity for pressure cooking.
It is imperative not to overfill your Instant Pot if you want the pressure-cooking function to work correctly. This recipe fills my pot to the maximum capacity. If you have a smaller pot, you will need to scale this recipe down.
To strain bone broth, you should have cheesecloth, a colander, and a big bowl to catch the strained broth in. I HIGHLY recommend this washable cheesecloth. It is much sturdier than the stuff from the grocery store and can be reused many times, ultimately saving money.
Use glass mason jars to store leftover bone broth in the fridge. For freezing broth, I recommend ice cube trays or cocktail cube trays. Put the frozen cubes of broth in freezer bags for longer-term freezer storage.
🔪 How to Make Bone Broth for Babies
If you are using a whole turkey or chicken carcass, break it into small enough pieces to fit into your Instant Pot. Add the bones, water, and apple cider vinegar to the pot. Cover the bones completely with water.
Important: make sure the water level stays between the recommended minimum and maximum level on your pot. If you have a smaller pot than I have, you can use less water (or fewer bones and less water).
Put the lid on the pressure cooker or slow cooker. For slow cooker, leave the steam release valve open. For pressure cooking, close the steam release valve.
⏲️ Cooking Time and Temperature
How long do you cook bone broth for babies in the Instant Pot? Pressure cook bone broth for 1 hour on high (“soup” setting). Then let the pressure naturally release for 10-15 minutes before carefully opening the pressure valve.
Open the pot after the pressure has finished releasing. Let the broth cool.
To slow cook bone broth, use the low setting and cook for 18-24 hours. Let the broth cool for an hour or two before straining.
To strain, put a large colander over a large bowl. Line the colander with a double layer of fine mesh cheesecloth. Strain the broth through the cloth so that it collects in the bowl.
If you are concerned your broth may still have sediment and small bone pieces, you can strain it twice. (I rarely bother with this.) Discard the stuff in the cheesecloth and store the broth in the fridge.
You may notice that sometimes your bone broth turns out more gelatinous than at other times. This is normal and the broth is good either way. If a hard layer of fat forms on the broth after refrigerating, you can skim it off and discard it.
🌡️ Bone Broth Storage
This broth recipe makes a huge batch that’s enough for the whole family, not just for baby. You can keep it in glass jars or other covered food storage containers in the fridge for 3-4 days.
To freeze broth, I pour it into large cocktail ice cube trays and freeze them. Once frozen, I take the cubes out of the trays and store in freezer bags until I need them. Each cube contains a generous ½ cup of broth, so it's easy to just defrost what I need for recipes.
You can also freeze broth in wide-mouth glass jars, but there is a risk the jars will break in the freezer. To minimize this risk, don’t fill the jars more than halfway with broth. This gives the broth plenty of room to expand as it freezes.
🥣 What’s the difference between meat broth and meat stock?
People tend to use the terms broth and stock interchangeably, but there are differences according to some sources. Stocks tend to use bones and have a long simmering time. Broths often use meat (and sometimes bones too) and have a short simmering time.
To confuse matters, “bone broth” is considered a type of stock. This chicken bone broth for babies (or beef bone broth for babies) has a very long simmering time if made in the crock pot.
📋 Calories, Net Carbs, Protein
One cup of bone broth has 40 calories, 0 grams net carbs, and 9 grams protein. Nutrition information is for one adult serving of no salt added chicken broth per Cronometer. Nutrition information listed is an estimate that can vary depending on a variety of factors.
💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). Let’s start with an important question...
Should bone broth be babies first food?
In this dietitian’s opinion, the answer is no. Ideally, you want a food that’s rich in iron for baby’s first food.
Bone broth tends to be low in iron (and other minerals as well). On the positive side, bone broth also tends to be low in heavy metals that are toxic to the body.
The specific nutrient content of bone broth is hard to pin down because it depends on a variety of factors. The type of bones you use, simmering time, and whether you use an acid can all impact the nutrition information for bone broth. Most of what you add in to bone broth eventually gets strained out.
Stocks and broths are very low in calories. This makes them great for weight loss, and less optimal for babies who need energy-dense foods. There are many options for finger food and purees that will provide more nutrition for a growing baby.
All of that said, broth for babies and toddlers has its merits. It’s hydrating and does provide protein and small amounts of vitamins and minerals. It can be something fun to try as a minor part of the diet.
❓ Which type of bone broth is best for babies?
Choose a simple broth with no added salt and no added sugar. Chicken, turkey, and beef broth are all fine options. Make the broth with just bones and cider vinegar; you can add more veggies and herbs as they are introduced in the child’s diet.
If you make a broth with a wide variety of ingredients, you won’t know which ingredient the child is reacting to if they have an intolerance to one of the ingredients. Introducing new foods slowly can help you pinpoint any negative food reactions faster.
You can give baby a taste of bone broth when they start solid baby food. This is usually at around age 6 months.
No, bone broth is not high iron. You can increase the amount of minerals in bone broth by using an acid (such as cider vinegar) and increasing the simmering time. However, bone broth tends to be relatively low in minerals (including iron) even with a long simmer.
A baby starting solids should only be given a small taste of bone broth to start with. Remember, it’s important not to displace breast milk, formula, and solid foods with broth. One teaspoon to one tablespoon of broth is plenty for a first taste.
No worries if your broth doesn't gel; it is healthy and nourishing either way. If you want a bone broth that gels when refrigerated, use less water and use more cartilage-rich joint bones. If you’re making chicken stock, a good option is to use chicken feet.
What’s the best store-bought bone broth for babies? Unfortunately, most natural brands of bone broth (including Trader Joe’s and Kettle & Fire) contain salt, and aren’t the best for babies. Look for a no salt added bone broth with simple ingredients. Here’s an option that’s just chicken bones, veggies, and herbs.
Most bouillon and stock cubes, including Oxo cubes, are quite high in sodium. Broth cubes should not be fed to babies and toddlers because of this high sodium content. Babies are still developing their palate and it’s best to allow them to become accustomed to unsalted foods.
👩🏻🍳 Recipes Using Bone Broth
Bone broth is extremely versatile. You can use your bone broth to create an assortment of delicious soups and stews for the family. Your grandma’s favorite immune system booster (chicken soup) just wouldn’t be the same without its bone broth base.
Here are a few ways to use bone broth to try:
Bone broth can be used in an assortment of other ways, such as in casseroles, gravies, and stews. If anything, you might find it difficult to keep enough on hand to meet the never-ending need! For babies and toddlers, make bone broth popsicles or add it to purees (including mashed potatoes).
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Bone Broth for Babies (Instant Pot or Slow Cooker)
- 1½-2 lbs. beef, turkey, or chicken bones (680-907 grams; it's fine if a little meat is still attached)
- 12 cups water
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- If you are using a whole turkey or chicken carcass, break it into small enough pieces to fit into your Instant Pot. Add the bones, water, and apple cider vinegar to the pot. The bones should be completely covered with water.
- Important: make sure the water level stays between the recommended minimum and maximum level on your pot. If you have a smaller pot than I have, you can use less water (or fewer bones and less water).
- Put the lid on the pressure cooker or slow cooker. For slow cooker, leave the steam release valve open. For pressure cooking, close the steam release valve.
- To Pressure Cook Baby Bone Broth: Pressure cook bone broth for 1 hour on high (“soup” setting). Then let the pressure naturally release for 10-15 minutes before carefully opening the pressure valve. Open the pot after the pressure has finished releasing. Let the broth cool.
- To Slow Cook Bone Broth: Use the low setting and cook for 18-24 hours. Let the broth cool for an hour or two before straining.
- To strain, put a large colander over a large bowl. Line the colander with a double layer of fine mesh cheesecloth. Strain the broth through the cloth so that it collects in the bowl.
- If you are concerned your broth may still have sediment and small bone pieces, you can strain it twice. Discard the stuff in the cheesecloth and store the broth in the fridge.
- You may notice that sometimes your bone broth turns out more gelatinous than at other times. This is normal and the broth is good either way. If a hard layer of fat forms on the broth after refrigerating, it can be skimmed off and discarded.
Bone Broth for the FamilyIt’s best to keep bone broth simple for babies. For older kids and adults, you can add a variety of spices, herbs, and veggies. Here’s a recipe for family bone broth:
- 2 lbs. chicken, turkey, or beef bones (907 grams; it's fine if a little meat is still attached)
- 12 cups water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 large fresh thyme sprig
- 1 large fresh rosemary sprig
- 1 tablespoon fresh chives
- 2 medium stalks celery, cut into large pieces
- 4 black peppercorns