Ask Dr. JJ: Nitrates in Homemade Baby Food?

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Dr. JJ recently received two similar questions about homemade carrot purees and their levels of nitrates. 

Patti Reid:

I am making all of my grandson’s baby food using the Baby Bullet to help my daughter out. His pediatrician has cautioned us about making homemade pureed carrots due to the nitrates. He is now a little over 7 months old. Is he old enough to have the pureed carrots yet, or should we wait a little longer?


Is it safe to cook carrots and spinach in the Baby Bullet? I thought they were full of unhealthy levels of nitrates. This will be my first time cooking and preparing my baby’s food. I did jar food with my other two children and have since grown aware of all the chemicals and sugars that they add to the baby’s food, so this go with my son has been different. I can’t afford the expensive organic baby food, but can buy organic veggies and grow veggies pesticide-free. I want to make sure I’m not harming him in any way.

Thanks in advance!


Dr. JJ:

Most of the nitrates that accumulate in carrots do so with older, larger carrots and are concentrated in the peel and outer layers. Better to buy smaller younger carrots (not baby carrots – those are just plugs cut out from large carrots), and peel them/wash them before preparing.

One of the concerns with spinach is actually that certain components of the plant prevent absorption of iron and calcium in the raw form, and, more importantly, concerns about salmonella and other foodborne germs have been recently reported in uncooked spinach. The oxalates in spinach can theoretically not be processed as efficiently in young, immature kidneys. So the take home message here is to WASH your produce and COOK your spinach. And as to what age to offer it, after 6 months is a good idea when baby’s kidneys are functioning at a more mature level.


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About Dr. JJ Levenstein

Dr. JJ Levenstein is a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and in 2012 retired from her thriving private pediatric practice in Encino, California. She served on the staff of CHLA and Encino Tarzana Hospitals for 20 years and was consistently voted one of the Best Doctors in America® from 2003 through 2012. Drawing from her experience as a pediatrician and mom, Dr. Levenstein serves as president and co-founder of MD Moms, makers of Baby Silk, the first personal care line for babies developed by pediatrician moms. She serves on the board of United Cerebral Palsy LA, is an active writer and sits on the advisory boards of several child-centered websites. She is an accomplished chef and completed culinary school in 2013! She has had a lifelong interest in child nutrition and all things related to preventive health.


  1. Hello a 4 month old baby be given thin-out oatmeal?

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