With antioxidants, micronutrients, and fiber galore — plus a delightfully sweet taste — blueberries aren’t just good for grown-ups. They offer fantastic nutrition for little ones, too!
When you’re on the path toward solid foods, how exactly should you introduce blueberries? We’re so glad you asked!
We’ve got the lowdown on giving your baby their first taste of these colorful summer berries, along with nutrition benefits, safety precautions, and how to make your own (super easy) blueberry purée.
Baby bodies and brains require plenty of carbohydrates for fuel. (There’s so much crawling to do! So many animal sounds to learn!) Since blueberries are a natural source of carbs, they make an excellent choice for something sweet for baby without added sugar.
Plus, their fiber helps promotes healthy digestion, which can sometimes be an issue as you navigate food sensitivities or the best choice of formula for your child.
Additionally, while other fruits like oranges and strawberries tend to get all the credit for vitamin C, blueberries are a surprising source of this micronutrient, at 14 milligrams (mg) per cup. (Babies 7 to 12 months old need 50 mg of vitamin C daily.)
As for other micronutrients, blueberries provide smaller amounts of potassium, which is required for proper nerve function and muscle contraction. They also contain certain B vitamins as well as manganese and copper, nutrients that are important for bone health.
The decision of when to start solids will vary from child to child, but in general, it’s
While the pediatric powers-that-be used to outline a specific order in which to introduce certain food groups, these days, experts say order doesn’t matter so much.
“Blueberries can be introduced among the first foods,” says Yaffi Lvova, RDN, founder of Baby Bloom Nutrition.
Of course, toothless gums won’t ready for full berries, so start out by serving blueberries in a purée. “Blueberries remain a choking hazard until baby is 12 months old, according to the
Familiar with baby-led weaning? This feeding strategy has gained traction in recent years as a way to let little ones take the lead on switching to solids.
In a nutshell, baby-led weaning involves placing appropriately sized pieces of food in front of baby, allowing them to self-feed, rather than be spoon-fed. The idea goes that this creates independence, simplifies mealtimes, and teaches intuitive eating. (Big wins, if you ask us!)
With their small size and compact shape, blueberries fit right into the baby-led weaning model. “They’re great for practicing the transition from palmar to pincer grasp as little one begins to develop more fine motor skills,” says Lvova.
Just be sure to cut blueberries in half or into chunks until you’re certain baby can handle a full berry.
When baby ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy — and constipation sure doesn’t make baby happy. If your little one is all stopped up, it’s often best to first try to remedy the affliction through the most natural means: food!
“Blueberries provide a natural sweetness, hydration, and fiber, all of which contribute to healthy bowel habits,” says Lvova. “Including 1/4 to 1/2 cup blueberries over the course of the day helps contribute to the daily fiber intake needed to keep things regular.”
In some cases, of course, blueberries may not be enough to get things moving again. “If constipation is an ongoing concern, speak with a pediatric dietitian for a plan specific to your child’s patterns,” says Lvova. (You can start by directing your concerns to your baby’s pediatrician, who can refer you to a pediatric dietitian if necessary.)
Got 10 minutes and a blender? You’re well on your way to whipping up a simple blueberry purée for your little gourmand. (No sugar required!)
Start with fresh or frozen berries in any amount you like. (Half a cup of blueberries will yield about 4 ounces puréed.)
- Wash berries thoroughly with water and a splash of white vinegar for disinfecting purposes. Let dry.
- If using frozen berries, you’ll need to quickly steam them before mixing them into a purée. Pop frozen berries in a steamer basket and steam for a couple of minutes.
- With clean, dry berries, you’re ready to blend! Run berries in the blender or food processor (or mash by hand) until puréed.
- Store your tasty creation in the refrigerator in a jar with a lid that reseals tightly.
The possibilities for blueberry purée are endless. Swirl a bit into yogurt or dollop a spoonful atop waffles or teething crackers — or spread a couple of teaspoons on mini PB&Js for little fingers. (You may end up sneaking some for yourself.)
Cut-up blueberries, meanwhile, can be served as a garnish on cereal or make their way into a fruit salad for baby. If you feel like baking, cooking full blueberries in oatmeal, pancakes, or muffins allows them to soften, reducing the risk of choking.
Blueberries are not among the top eight most common food allergens, which account for around 90 percent of all food allergies. A blueberry allergy is considered quite rare, and it’s unlikely that a reaction to blueberries would indicate a need to steer clear of all berries.
However, if you have any concern that your baby may be sensitive or allergic to blueberries, speak with your pediatrician.
Although rare, some children may have a sensitivity to certain compounds found in blueberries called salicylates, which have been known to cause allergy-like symptoms like hives and nasal congestion in some people.
If your little one has been diagnosed with a sensitivity to salicylates, it’s best to keep blueberries off the menu.
Is there anything quite so adorable as a baby with blue goo from juicy berries smeared all over their face? We think not.
When baby is ready for solids, let them dive into a serving of blueberry purée or cut berries and let the adorableness — and the health benefits — unfold.