Apple

Food Type:
Age Suggestion: 6 months +
Nutrition Rating:How nutritious a food is with a focus on the specific nutrients babies need for optimal growth. The more nutritious a food, the more stars it will have.
Prep Time:How much time a food takes to prepare safely for a baby. The more time-consuming a food is to prepare safely, the more clocks it will have.
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Common Allergen: No
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a golden delicious apple on a table before being prepared for babies starting solid food

Warning

Raw apple is among one of the top choking hazards for children under 3 years old so read on to learn more about how to safely introduce it to babies.1

When can babies eat apples?

Apples may be introduced as soon as a baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age, as long as the fruit is deseeded, cut in an age-appropriate way, and for young babies, cooked until soft to reduce the risk of choking. Raw apple is among one of the top choking hazards for children under 3 years old, so take care to cut in an age appropriate way.2 Check out our age-appropriate serving suggestions to safely introduce apple to babies.

Need ideas for the best first foods for babies? See our guides, such as our Top 15 Foods for Babies Starting Solids.

Background and origins of apples

Apples are one of the world’s most popular fruits—and for good reason. The nutritious fruit thrives in temperate climates around the globe and holds up longer in storage than most fruits. Our planet contains thousands of known apple varieties that range in color and texture, from the sweet Jonagold with bright red skin flecked with gold; to the deep purple Arkansas Black with firm and tart cream-colored flesh; to the beguiling Pink Pearl with tart, rosy flesh. The apple’s incredible biodiversity can be traced back to Central Asia, where the wild fruit grew in mountainous regions and served as a source of food for animals and birds, which spread seeds from the tastiest apples far and wide. As trade routes developed across the Asian continent, apples made their way to Europe and eventually followed colonization to the Americas. Today apples are tied with bananas as the United States’ most consumed fruit, which shows up in nearly every place where Americans are served food—from school lunch trays to hospital cafeterias to bodega counters to your local coffee shop.

Caden, 6 months, eats cooked apple for the first time.
Cooper, 8 months, eats cooked apple.
Max, 12 months, eats thinly sliced raw apple.

Are apples healthy for babies?

Yes. While the proverb “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is not clinically proven, you can count on apples for lots of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and antioxidants to help a growing baby thrive.3 Nutrients vary depending on the variety of apple; for example, red apples contain a special type of antioxidant called anthocyanins, which may support cardiovascular health and the gut microbiome.4 5 That said, don’t worry about finding the “best” apple. Choose whichever variety is available to you: all apples are packed with nutrition to strengthen the immune system, promote healthy skin and cellular growth, regulate bowel movements, and grow a healthy gut microbiome.6

Two important notes on apples. First, be careful with apple seeds: they contain amygdalin, a plant compound that contains naturally occurring cyanide. While eating an apple seed once in a while is probably fine, in excess, the seeds can lead to cyanide poisoning.7 8

Second, apples are commonly sprayed with pesticides.9 To minimize exposure, opt for organic apples when you can and be sure to wash all apples well before serving to reduce pesticide residue on the skin. Can’t afford or access organic apples? Fruit is better than no fruit. Don’t stress, and consider working other fruits into baby’s diet that tend to not need as much pesticide application, like cantaloupe, honeydew melon, kiwi, papaya and pineapple.

★Tip: Apples are full of natural sugar and can be used as a sugar replacement in many recipes. Try mashing cooked apples to make homemade applesauce, then use the applesauce in place of processed sugar in baked goods, salad dressings, and stews.

Can babies drink apple juice or apple cider?

No. Juice of any kind should not be given to babies under 12 months of age, unless directed to do so by a health provider in very specific circumstances. It is our professional opinion that it is best to wait to serve any kind of juice until age two, and even then, to limit the amount offered to minimize sugar (including natural sugar) in a child’s diet. Technically speaking, small amounts of juice (less than 4 ounces a day, ideally diluted with water to reduce sweetness) may be safely offered after a child’s first birthday but there are many benefits to waiting.10 Regular and excessive consumption of sweet beverages may reduce the diversity of foods and nutrients consumed and may increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and dental caries.11 Plus, apples in their whole form are more nutritious than the juice.12

Are apples a common choking hazard for babies?

Yes. Raw apples and dried apple pieces are choking hazards for babies and children. To minimize choking risk, cook apples until soft or slice very thinly. As always, make sure to create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of a baby during meals. For more information, visit our section on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with common choking hazards.

Are apples a common allergen?

No. Apple is not considered to be a common allergen, although reactions have been reported.13 Individuals with Oral Allergy Syndrome (also called pollen-food allergy syndrome) may be sensitive to apples, particularly those who are allergic to alder, birch, and mugwort pollen.14 Individuals sensitive to other fruits of the Rosaceae family, such as apricots, almonds, and plums may also have a similar experience with apples.15 Oral Allergy Syndrome typically results in short-lived itching or burning in the mouth, and it is unlikely to result in a dangerous reaction. Peeling and cooking the fruit can minimize the reaction.16 17

As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity at first and watch closely as baby eats. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the amount served over future meals.

How do you prepare apples for babies with baby-led weaning?

an infographic showing how to serve apple to babies and toddlers: cooked halves for 6-9 months+, thin slices for 9-18 months +, a whole raw apple for 18-24 months +, and raw and quartered for 24 months +

6 to 9 months old: Cook apple halves (with the skin, core and seeds removed) in boiling water until easily pierced by a fork or cook apples in the oven until soft. You can also mash cooked apples to make applesauce and play with flavor enhancers by adding butter or yogurt for extra fat, aromatics like ginger, and spices like cardamom or cinnamon. If you’d like to serve raw apple at this age, play it safe: grate apple into a bowl that suctions to the table for baby to hand scoop from or slice into paper-thin pieces.

9 to 18 months old: At this age, continue to offer sections of cooked apple and consider serving very thin slices of raw apple with or without the skin. Babies often chew on the skin and spit it out, and while this seems like waste, building familiarity with skin can help encourage a child to eat fruit with the skin later in life. It also encourages the development of grinding skills with the newly popped molars in toddlerhood! The act of chewing and spitting the skin also helps develop oral-motor skills.

18 to 24 months old: When and if you think your child is ready, you can try offering whole apples, taking care to core and remove the seeds before serving (or removing the core before they get too close to the seeds.) Offering whole apples can actually be safer (as opposed to sections of raw apple that break off more easily) as toddlers can’t take as big of bites from a whole apple as they can from, say, a quartered apple. If your child is struggling with the skin, simply peel the apple, or peel it in “stripes” so that some skin is left on for exposure. As always, stay within an arm’s reach during mealtime and refrain from offering apples in strollers or car seats.

24 months +: By age 2 most typically developing toddlers will be ready for sections of raw apple, such as a quarter piece. These large sections of apple can be riskier than a whole apple so wait until you observe your child to be ready. As always, stay within an arm’s reach during mealtime and refrain from offering apples in strollers or car seats.

A cooked apple half held in a hand
Cooked apple half for babies 6 months+
a hand holding raw thinly shredded apple for babies 6 months+
Thinly shredded raw apple for babies 6 months +
a paper thin slice of green apple held in a hand
A paper thin slice of green apple for babies 9 months+

Starting solids can be overwhelming, but our First 100 Days: Daily Meal Plan for Starting Solids is with you every step of the way.

Recipe: Stewed Apples

quartered poached apple

Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 2 cups (500 milliliters)
Age: 6 months+

Ingredients

  • 2 apples
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cardamom pod, cinnamon stick, or star anise (optional)

Directions

  1. Wash and dry the apples. If you like, peel and discard the skins. Halve or quarter the apple, then cut off and discard the core, seeds, and stem.
  2. Place the apples and water in a pot set on medium heat. If you like, add spices like cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, or star anise for flavor.
  3. Cover and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer until the apples are completely soft, about 10 minutes.
  4. Use a sieve or slotted spoon to transfer the apples from the water to a cutting board and cool to room temperature. Discard the cooking water or reserve for another use, like tea.
  5. Serve: Offer some apple and let the child self-feed with hands. Exact serving size is variable. Let a child’s appetite determine how much is eaten. Store the extra apple for future meals. If you’d like to encourage utensil use, simply pre-load a spoon and rest it next to the food or pass it in the air for the child to grab from you.

To Store: Stewed apples keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 week.

Flavor Pairings

Apples are sweet and tart—a versatile flavor combination that pairs well with sweet and savory foods alike. Try pairing apples with almond, hazelnut, peanut, or walnut to balance the nuts’ rich earthy flavor with brightness. Use apple to sweeten grains like amaranth, freekeh, oats, and quinoa. Serve apple alongside vegetables like butternut squash, kale, onion, spinach, or sweet potato to add sweetness to their earthy flavor. Apples also taste particularly delicious with hearty proteins like beef, chicken, chicken liver, and pork sausage.

Reviewed by

J. Truppi, MSN, CNS

V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP

K. Rappaport, OTR/L, MS, SCFES, IBCLC

K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT

S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)

R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist

  1. Altkorn R, Chen X, Milkovich S, et al. (2008). Fatal and non-fatal food injuries among children (aged 0-14 years). Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol, 72(7):1041-1046. doi:10.1016/j.ijporl.2008.03.010. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  2. Altkorn R, Chen X, Milkovich S, et al. (2008). Fatal and non-fatal food injuries among children (aged 0-14 years). Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol, 72(7):1041-1046. doi:10.1016/j.ijporl.2008.03.010. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  3. Kschonsek, J., Wolfram, T., Stöckl, A., & Böhm, V. (2018). Polyphenolic Compounds Analysis of Old and New Apple Cultivars and Contribution of Polyphenolic Profile to the In Vitro Antioxidant CapacityAntioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 7(1), 20. DOI:10.3390/antiox7010020l. Retrieved April 1, 2021
  4. Koutsos, A., Tuohy, K.M., Lovegrove, J.A. (2015). Apples and cardiovascular health–is the gut microbiota a core consideration?Nutrients, 7(6), 3959–3998. DOI:10.3390/nu7063959. Retrieved April 1, 2021
  5. Mattioli, R., Francioso, A., Mosca, L., & Silva, P. (2020). Anthocyanins: A Comprehensive Review of Their Chemical Properties and Health Effects on Cardiovascular and Neurodegenerative Diseases. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 25(17), 3809. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25173809
  6. Koutsos, A., Tuohy, K.M., Lovegrove, J.A. (2015). Apples and cardiovascular health–is the gut microbiota a core consideration?Nutrients, 7(6), 3959–3998. DOI:10.3390/nu7063959. Retrieved April 1, 2021
  7. Bolarinwa, I. F., Orfila, C., Morgan, M. R. (2015). Determination of amygdalin in apple seeds, fresh apples and processed apple juicesFood chemistry, 170, 437–442. DOI:10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.08.083. Retrieved April 1, 2021
  8. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. (2020). Amygdalin. Retrieved April 1, 2021
  9. Xu, G., Nie, J., Wu, Y., Yan, Z., & Ye, M. (2018). The effects of fruit bagging on residue behavior and dietary risk for four pesticides in appleScientific reports, 8(1), 14348. DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-32358-6. Retrieved April 1, 2021
  10. American Academy of Pediatrics: HealthyChildren.org. (2017). Where We Stand: Fruit Juice. Retrieved September 15, 2020
  11. Fidler Mis, N., Braegger, C., Bronsky, J., Campoy, C., Domellöf, et al. (2017). Sugar in infants, children and adolescents: A position paper of the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Committee on NutritionJournal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition, 65(6), 681–696. DOI:10.1097/MPG.0000000000001733. Retrieved September 15, 2020
  12. Crowe, K.M., Murray, E. (2013). Deconstructing a fruit serving: Comparing the antioxidant density of select whole fruit and 100% fruit juices. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 113(10), 1354-1358. DOI:10.1016/j.jand.2013.04.024. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  13. Tsiougkos, N., & Vovolis, V. (2013). Repeated anaphylactic episodes to orange and appleEuropean annals of allergy and clinical immunology, 45(3), 113–115. Retrieved April 1, 2021
  14. Muluk, N. B., Cingi, C. (2018). Oral allergy syndromeAmerican journal of rhinology & allergy, 32(1), 27–30. DOI: 10.2500/ajra.2018.32.4489. Retrieved August 14, 2020
  15. Rodriguez, J., Crespo, J.F., Lopez-Rubio, A., De La Cruz-Bertolo, J., Ferrando-Vivas, P., et al. (2000). Clinical cross-reactivity among foods of the Rosaceae familyThe Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, 106(1 Pt 1), 183–189. Retrieved April 1, 2021
  16. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) or Pollen Fruit Syndrome (PFS). Retrieved January 9, 2020
  17. Sussman, G., Sussman, A., Sussman, D. (2010). Oral allergy syndromeCMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne, 182(11), 1210–1211. DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.090314 . Retrieved April 1, 2021