When can babies eat blueberries?
Blueberries may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Due to their round shape, blueberries are a choking hazard so be sure to smash or quarter them to reduce the choking risk.
The round shape of blueberries makes them a potential choking hazard. Read on to learn how to prepare them for babies and toddlers.
Where do blueberries come from?
Blueberries grow around the globe, with Canada and the United States producing most of the world’s supply, though it wasn’t always this way. Blueberries descended from tundra plants that emerged across the Northern Hemisphere after the Ice Age. Many varieties of “blue” berries exist within this plant family, including bilberry (from Asia and Europe) and huckleberry (from North America) which are often colloquially called blueberries. Until the 19th century, these berries were typically harvested in the wild by communities during berry-picking gatherings in peak summer. Feeding troops during the American Civil War created demand for wild blueberry farming, and in the 20th century, modern agriculture bred the larger, lighter-colored blueberries that dominate the global market today.
Are blueberries healthy for babies?
Yes. Blueberries are a good source of fiber and offer small amounts of plenty of other nutrients, such as vitamin E to protect cells from damage, vitamin K for healthy blood, and vitamin C, which helps our bodies absorb iron from plants – so try serving blueberries alongside iron-rich plant foods like lentils, beans, nuts, and seeds. Blueberries are also among the fruits highest in antioxidants, including anthocyanins, which protect our cells from damage and support heart health, blood sugar regulation, immunity, and gut health.1 2
Blueberry jams, jellies, and preserves typically contain added sugar, which should be limited in a baby’s diet, so try to wait on offering these blueberry products until after 12 months of age and, ideally, closer to age 2.
If you are foraging for your own blueberries, do your research and consult with local experts to confirm that the variety that you are picking is edible—then be sure to remove the green unripe berries, leaves, and stems before you start cooking.
★Tip: Hold off on rinsing blueberries until you are ready to eat them. Blueberries stay freshest in the refrigerator without rinsing.
Are blueberries a common choking hazard for babies?
Yes. The round shape, small size, and firmness of a blueberry makes it a choking hazard for babies. To minimize the risk, flatten fresh blueberries into a disc shape between your fingers, quarter them and stir into other foods, or cook them until they burst. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meals. For more information on choking, visit our sections on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.
When can babies eat whole blueberries?
Once an older baby or toddler is taking bites and not stuffing their mouth with food, they can typically manage fresh whole blueberries in a safe eating environment. For most, this will be after the first birthday. That said, major healthy advisory bodies consider whole blueberries a common choking hazard until age four because of their round, firm shape. You may decide to work your way up to whole blueberries by flattening them a little less each time you serve them.
Are blueberries a common allergen?
No, blueberries are not a common allergen, although allergies to blueberries have been reported.6 7 Individuals who are sensitive to blueberry may also react to lingonberry and cranberry, which are closely related.8 Blueberry contains a lipid transfer protein (LTP) allergen that is known to cross-react with LTPs of a number of other foods, especially stone fruits such as peach, apricot, and cherry. This protein may also cross-react with raspberry, grape, chestnut, hazelnut, maize, barley, asparagus, carrot, and lettuce.9
As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small amount during the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the amount served over future meals.
Are wild blueberries better than other kinds?
Not necessarily. Wild blueberries offer similar nutrients as the larger high-bush blueberries, although they tend to contain more antioxidants.10 11 Wild blueberries tend to be much smaller (about the size of a toddler’s thumbnail) which makes them a slightly higher choking risk and harder to modify. That said, if you have access to wild blueberries, enjoy! Just flatten them before serving to reduce the choking risk.
How do you prepare blueberries 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 8 months old: Cook ripe, fresh or frozen blueberries into warm cereals until the berries burst. Alternatively, smash whole berries that have been cooked until soft, then fold the smashed berries into soft, scoopable foods like grain porridge, ricotta cheese, or yogurt. You can also flatten uncooked blueberries into a disc to reduce the choking hazard, but know that babies at this age may struggle to pick up the small pieces of food, and putting food in a baby’s mouth significantly increases choking risk. Cooked blueberries (in muffins, pancakes, and other baked goods) can be left whole because they soften and burst with heat.
9 to 12 months old: Flatten large ripe blueberries to make little discs and serve directly on the tray or table, letting baby try to pick them up independently with their developing pincer grasp (where the thumb and forefinger meet). You can also continue serving blueberries in foods like yogurt, or bite-sized pieces of baked goods with blueberries in them.
12 to 24 months old: Continue to flatten ripe blueberries into discs, flattening a little less as your child’s eating skills mature and your comfort increases. At this age, many toddlers are also ready to eat a whole blueberry. Before you offer one, assess the child’s eating ability. If you see the child consistently chewing well and not stuffing their mouth, and you feel comfortable, you may offer a whole ripe blueberry in a safe eating environment. Make sure to offer one at a time, at first, model how to crush the berry with your teeth, and stay within arm’s each of the child. If the child is not quite ready for the whole berry, build up eating ability by flattening the berries a little less each time you serve.
Mix up your mornings with ideas from our guide, 50 Breakfasts for Babies & Toddlers.
What are recipe ideas for cooking with blueberries?
Blueberries are a terrific fruit for sweet treats, but there are also plenty of savory dishes that benefit from their sweet-tart flavor. Cook blueberries into a sauce that balances the richness of meats like bison, duck, or venison. You can serve the sauce on the cooked meats or use it as a marinade. Blueberries also taste delicious with arugula, spinach, and other salad greens sprinkled with fresh unripened cheeses like goat cheese and ricotta cheese. They can also be blended with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to make a vinaigrette. Want to bake? Blueberries work in baked goods like buttermilk scones, lemon rosemary cornbread, or yogurt snacking cake.
Recipe: Purple Oatmeal
Yield: 1 ½ c (360 ml)
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Age: 6 months+
- ½ c (48 g) dry instant oats
- ½ c (120 ml) unsweetened coconut milk
- ½ c (74 ml) blueberries
- ½ tsp (1 g) unsweetened desiccated coconut flakes (optional)
This recipe contains a common allergen: coconut (milk). Only serve to a child after this allergen has been safely introduced. While coconut allergy is rare, it is classified as a tree nut by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
- Combine the oats, coconut milk, and ½ c (120 ml) of water in a saucepan. If you opened a can of coconut milk, consider using the rest for chia pudding!
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to create a bare simmer.
- While the oats are cooking, wash the blueberries. Remove any stems.
- Add half of the blueberries to the pot then use a fork or potato masher to smash the berries. Make sure to break down the skins (they are super healthy!) but if any large pieces remain, pick them out to reduce the risk.
- Turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes until the oatmeal has thickened and cooled to room temperature.
- While the oatmeal is thickening, mash the remaining berries.
- Scoop some oatmeal into baby’s bowl. Spoon some of the remaining mashed berries on top and sprinkle with unsweetened desiccated coconut flakes.
Serve the Oatmeal
- Offer the oatmeal to baby and let the child self-feed.
- To encourage the use of utensils, lay a pre-loaded spoon next to the oatmeal for baby to pick up. Alternatively, pass the pre-loaded spoon in the air for the child to grab from you.
To Store: Purple Oatmeal keeps in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 3 days or in the freezer for 2 months.
J. Truppi, MS, CNS. Certified Nutrition Specialist®
V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP. Board-Certified Pediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist
K. Tatiana Maldonado, MS, CCC-SLP, CBIS, CLEC. Pediatric Feeding Therapist
K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT. Pediatric Feeding Therapist
Dr. S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)
Dr. R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist
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- Yeh DA, Drummond FA, Gómez MI, Fan X. The Economic Impacts and Management of Spotted Wing Drosophila (Drosophila Suzukii): The Case of Wild Blueberries in Maine. J Econ Entomol. 2020 Jun 6;113(3):1262-1269. doi: 10.1093/jee/toz360. Retrieved June 16, 2022.
- Martin RR, Tzanetakis IE. High Risk Blueberry Viruses by Region in North America; Implications for Certification, Nurseries, and Fruit Production. Viruses. 2018 Jun 26;10(7):342. doi: 10.3390/v10070342. Retrieved June 16, 2022.
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- Gebhardt, C., Vieths, S., Gubesch, M., Averbeck, M., Simon, J. C., & Treudler, R. (2009). 10 kDa lipid transfer protein: the main allergenic structure in a German patient with anaphylaxis to blueberry. Allergy, 64(3), 498–499. DOI: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2008.01923.x. Retrieved June 16, 2022
- Dereci, S., Orhan, F., Koca, T., & Akcam, M. (2015). Prevalence of blueberry allergy in a Turkish population. Annals of allergy, asthma & immunology : official publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, 114(3), 259–260. DOI: 10.1016/j.anai.2014.12.016. Retrieved June 16, 2022.
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- Dróżdż, P., Šėžienė, V., & Pyrzynska, K. (2018). Mineral Composition of Wild and Cultivated Blueberries. Biological trace element research, 181(1), 173–177. DOI: 10.1007/s12011-017-1033-z. Retrieved June 16, 2022.
- Kalt, W., Cassidy, A., Howard, L. R., Krikorian, R., Stull, A. J., Tremblay, F., & Zamora-Ros, R. (2020). Recent Research on the Health Benefits of Blueberries and Their Anthocyanins. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 11(2), 224–236. DOI: 10.1093/advances/nmz065. Retrieved June 16, 2022