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.
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. 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 50 Fantastic First Foods for Babies
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.
Juliet Rose, 6 months, eats a cooked apple half
Aarav, 9 months, eats a thin slice of raw apple
Max, 12 months, eats thinly sliced raw apple
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. 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. 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.
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.
Second, apples are commonly sprayed with pesticides. 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.
Yes. Raw apples and dried apple pieces are choking hazards for babies and children as they are challenging to chew and can be slippery. To minimize choking risk, cook apples until soft or slice 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.
No. Apple is not considered to be a common allergen, although reactions have been reported. 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. Individuals sensitive to other fruits of the Rosaceae family, such as apricots, almonds, and plums may also have a similar experience with apples. 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.
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.
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. 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. Plus, apples in their whole form are more nutritious than the juice.
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience. Your child is an individual and may have needs or considerations beyond generally accepted practices. In determining the recommendations for size and shape of foods, we use the best available scientific information regarding gross, fine, and oral motor development to minimize choking risk. The preparation suggestions we offer are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for child-specific, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional or provider. It is impossible to fully eliminate all risk of a baby or child choking on any liquid, puree, or food. We advise you to follow all safety protocols we suggest to create a safe eating environment and to make educated choices for your child regarding their specific needs. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
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. From here, you can hand over the cooked apple half and let baby munch on it. 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.
At this age, continue to offer sections of cooked apple and consider serving raw apple rounds, about one centimeter thick 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. The apple round is an excellent shape for children who tend to overstuff as well, as it is nearly impossible to get an entire apple round in the mouth. If a piece is bitten off (remember, babies learning to bite is the goal!), the piece will either be large enough to be spit out or stimulate the tongue to move the apple to the side to further chew it, or will be a small piece that is nibbled from the edge. As always, if you are nervous, stick with cooked apple.
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.
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.
How to cut an 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.
2 cups (500 milliliters)
2 cups water
1 cardamom pod or cinnamon stick (optional)
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.
Place the apples and water in a pot set on medium heat. If you like, add the spice for flavor.
Cover and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer until the apples are completely soft, about 10 minutes.
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.
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.
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.
Pediatrician & pediatric gastroenterologist
Pediatrician & pediatric allergist/immunologist
Pediatric occupational therapist, feeding & swallowing specialist, international board-certified lactation consultant
Speech-language pathologist, feeding & swallowing specialist
Speech-language pathologist & feeding therapist
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