When can babies eat blackberries?
Blackberries may be introduced as soon as your baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.
Background and origins of blackberries
Our planet contains many kinds of blackberries—some that grow wild in unruly thickets with sharp thorns and berries sweetened by the sun; others cultivated by farmers to yield even sweeter fruit with a firmness that protects against crushing when shipped to faraway places. Native to temperate climes, blackberries thrive on all continents except Antarctica and, along with the plant’s leaves, roots, and stems have served many purposes. For thousands of years, blackberry plants have served as a resource: they offer food for humans and animals alike; inky dye for fabric, hair, and skin; herbal medicine for a variety of ailments; and protection thanks to their prickly canes that can form a formidable wall to block outsiders. Years of wild mixing and agricultural cultivation have spawned a diverse family tree: boysenberries, dewberries, loganberries, marionberries, newberries, and tayberries are all varieties of blackberries.
Blackberries are among a handful of whole foods that are nearly black—an indication of the powerful antioxidants within the fruit. Along with the vivid hue, the berry’s flavor, bumpy shape, and gritty edible seeds offer exciting sensations for curious babies and toddlers whose eating preferences are shaped with every new bite of food. See our suggestions on how to safely introduce these tasty berries!
★Tip: Let tart foods like blackberries come to room temperature before serving. Warmer temperatures soften the berries for your baby and make the tannic flavors more enjoyable!
Are blackberries healthy for babies?
Yes! Blackberries offer plenty of fiber to promote gut health and tons of vitamin C—an immunity booster that helps your child’s body absorb iron, which powers healthy blood and brain development.1 Blackberries also contain other potent antioxidants like anthocyanins, flavanols, and phenolic acids—fancy names for plant compounds that help your baby’s body stay healthy.2 3 In fact, blackberries are one of the richest food sources of antioxidants, which may explain their rising popularity in recent years.
When shopping for blackberries, aim to get them fresh, and buy organic if you can. Fresh blackberries picked at peak ripeness contain up to seven times more antioxidants compared to those picked early for processing and organic fruits in general have been found to be higher in antioxidants, not to mention lower in toxins.4 5 6 7 High levels of toxins from pesticides in the body from eating foods with pesticide residue consistently can adversely impact neurodevelopment and disrupt the endocrine system over time.8 That said, if the choice is between fruit or no fruit, go with fruit! Just take care to remove some of the toxins by washing the berries before serving.
★Tip: Blackberry plants thrive in large container pots and small plots of land with lots of sun. Try growing your own fruit for easy access to fresh blackberries!
Are blackberries a common choking hazard for babies?
Yes. Blackberries are round and sometimes they are quite firm—two qualities that can increase the risk of choking. Smash the berries or cut them lengthwise into quarters before serving to young babies to reduce the risk. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment for your baby, stay nearby at meal time, and check out our age-appropriate serving suggestions.
Are blackberries a common allergen?
No. Reported cases of blackberry allergy are limited and blackberry allergies are generally uncommon.9 As you would when introducing any new food, offer a small quantity at first and watch closely as your baby eats. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the serving size over future meals.
How do you prepare blackberries for babies with baby-led weaning?
Every baby develops on their own timeline. The preparation suggestions below are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional, nutritionist or dietitian, or expert in pediatric feeding and eating. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
6 to 9 months old: Smash or quarter lengthwise then mix into warm cereal, yogurt, or other soft whole foods. When adding to oatmeal and other warm cereals, smash the berries while they are still in the pot to give the dish a bright purple color that is sure to delight!
9 to 12 months old: Quarter fresh blackberries lengthwise and offer as finger food to let your baby practice the pincer grasp. You can also continue to mash or cook the berries into your baby’s food as you see fit.
12 to 24 months old: Around this age, your baby may be ready to try eating whole blackberries. There are many varieties of blackberries, and ironically, the larger ones can present less of a choking risk when they are soft and ripe than the smaller kinds, whose shape is sometimes closer in size to your toddler’s trachea. It’s also easier for a baby to control a bigger berry in their mouth than a smaller berry, requiring more advanced oral motor skills. Trust your gut and if you feel that quartering the berries is best, by all means, do so.
Take the anxiety out of starting solids with our First 100 Days: Daily Meal Plan for Starting Solids.
Recipe: Blackberry Banana Parfait
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blackberries
- 1/2 banana
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- Wash the blackberries and pat dry. Add to a small mixing bowl.
- Smash the berries with a fork, then mix with the Greek yogurt.
- Peel the banana half and mash with the berries and yogurt.
- Transfer the parfait to your child’s bowl. For babies who are starting solids, a bowl that suctions to the table can help with hand scooping. For those who are ready to practice eating with utensils, pre-load a spoon or rest the spoon on the edge of the bowl.
- Serve and have your camera ready. The purple parfait on faces and fingers is adorable!
Flavor Pairings: Blackberries can be both sweet and tart—two flavors to balance healthy fats in creamy foods like soft goat cheese and ricotta; hearty foods like almond, oats, and quinoa; gamey meats like duck and venison; and all sorts of fruits, from similarly acidic ones like apple, apricot, pineapple, plum, and strawberry, to similarly sugary fruits like banana, mango, and peach. Try enhancing blackberries with warm spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and vanilla.
J. Truppi, MSN, CNS
V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP
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
- Bushman, B.S., Phillips, B., Isbell, T., Ou, B., Crane, J.M., et al. (2004). Chemical composition of caneberry (Rubus spp.) seeds and oils and their antioxidant potential. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 52(26), 7982–7987. DOI:10.1021/jf049149a. Retrieved September 30, 2020
- Khoo, H.E., Azlan, A., Tang, S.T., Lim, S.M. (2017). Anthocyanidins and anthocyanins: colored pigments as food, pharmaceutical ingredients, and the potential health benefits. Food & nutrition research, 61(1), 1361779. DOI:10.1080/16546628.2017.1361779. Retrieved September 30, 2020
- Wang, S. (2002). Antioxidant Capacity of Berry Crops, Culinary Herbs and Medicinal Herbs. U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Services, Publication #127267. Retrieved September 30, 2020
- Skrovankova, S., Sumczynski, D., Mlcek, J., Jurikova, T., & Sochor, J. (2015). Bioactive Compounds and Antioxidant Activity in Different Types of Berries. International journal of molecular sciences, 16(10), 24673–24706. DOI:10.3390/ijms161024673. Retrieved September 28, 2020
- Barański, M., Srednicka-Tober, D., Volakakis, N., Seal, C., Sanderson, R., et al. (2014). Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses. The British journal of nutrition, 112(5), 794–811.DOI:10.1017/S0007114514001366. Retrieved September 28, 2020
- Asami, D. K., Hong, Y. J., Barrett, D. M., & Mitchell, A. E. (2003). Comparison of the total phenolic and ascorbic acid content of freeze-dried and air-dried marionberry, strawberry, and corn grown using conventional, organic, and sustainable agricultural practices. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 51(5), 1237–1241. DOI:10.1021/jf020635c. Retrieved September 28, 2020
- Cavender, G., Liu, M., Fernandez-Salvador, J., Hobbs, D., Strik B., et al. (2019). Effect of Different Commercial Fertilizers, Harvest Date, and Storage Time on Two Organically Grown Blackberry Cultivars: Physicochemical Properties, Antioxidant Properties, and Sugar Profiles. Journal of Food Quality, Article ID 1390358. DOI:10.1155/2019/1390358. Retrieved September 28, 2020
- Braun J. M. (2017). Early-life exposure to EDCs: role in childhood obesity and neurodevelopment. Nature reviews. Endocrinology, 13(3), 161–173. DOI: 10.1038/nrendo.2016.186. Retrieved September 28, 2020
- Armentia, A., Lombarderoa, M., Barbera, D., Callejo, A., Vega, J., et al. (2000). Blackberry (Morus nigra) anaphylaxis. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 14(6), 398-401. Retrieved September 28, 2020