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—a nutrient that supports the immune system and helps baby’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.
★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. To reduce the risk, mash the berries before serving. 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.4 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, 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.
6 to 9 months old: Mash ripe, soft blackberries with a fork and mix into warm cereal, yogurt, or other soft foods. If you have large, very soft blackberries, you can try completely flattening them and serving as finger food (although picking up the berries may be challenging for very young eaters).
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 completely flatten berries that are very soft.
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 a toddler’s trachea. It’s also easier for a child 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.
- Mash 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
- 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