Cranberry

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 pile of fresh cranberries before being prepared for a baby starting solids

When can babies eat cranberries?

Fresh cranberries that have been cooked and smashed may be introduced as soon as your baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months old. 

In the United States, cranberries are often viewed as a side dish for holiday meals, but they’re a wonderful and easy way to introduce tart flavor to your babies at any time of year. Plus their bright crimson color is sure to delight!   

When introducing cranberries to your baby, it’s important to only serve fresh cranberries that have been cooked and smashed. Dried cranberries (and dried fruits in general) are choking hazards for babies because they are sticky and hard to chew. Further, dried fruit delivers condensed fruit sugar in each serving, which is not ideal for little eaters and can prime the pump for a sweet tooth. If you can, hold off on serving dried fruit until your child is 2 years old and even then, prioritize fresh fruit over dried fruit.

Amelia, 8 months, eats homemade cranberry sauce.
Isar, 12 months, eats cranberry sauce on bread.
Adie, 16 months, eats cranberry sauce with ricotta.

Are cranberries healthy for babies?

Yes. Fresh cranberries contain more than 24 antioxidants, along with vitamins C, E, and K. They also have a fair amount of fiber, which can help reduce constipation. Importantly, cranberries are only healthy when they are prepared from fresh cranberries without any added sugar. Cranberry sauce, cranberry juice, dried cranberries, and other processed cranberry products can contain a lot of sugar and are not appropriate for babies.

When cooked and smashed to reduce the choking hazard, fresh cranberries are a great topping for oatmeal, ricotta cheese, and yogurt. They also pair well with duck, turkey, venison and fatty cuts like brisket. Just be warned: too many cranberries can cause diarrhea.

Are cranberries a choking hazard for babies?

Yes. Just like grapes, cherry tomatoes, and blueberries, fresh cranberries are hard and round—two qualities that create a high choking risk. Always cook fresh cranberries until they’ve reached a soft consistency and ensure that any remaining intact berries are smashed before serving to your baby.

For more information, visit our section on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with common choking hazards.

Are cranberries a common allergen?

No. Cranberries are not a common food allergen, though people who are allergic to salicylates may be allergic to them.Cranberries (and especially dried cranberries) are high in salicylates1, which some people are very sensitive to. If your baby is allergic to berries or fruits such as apricot, cherry, pineapple, prunes, or tangerines, consider testing your child for salicylate allergy.

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

6 to 12 months old: Fresh cranberries must be stewed and smashed to break down their hard, round shapes before serving to your baby. As the berries cook, they soften, burst, and release their juices. Before serving, double check that all whole cranberries have popped, and if they didn’t, gently smash them with a fork or potato masher before serving. 

12 to 24 months old: Continue to serve cooked cranberries in the form of a sauce and if you feel your toddler is ready, offer whole cooked cranberries (smash between your fingers slightly to reduce the choking risk.)

For more information on how to cut food for your baby’s age, hop over to our section on Food Sizes & Shapes.

★Tip: Cranberries freeze well and a little cranberry sauce goes a long way. Make a batch of cranberry sauce, divide into ice cube trays, freeze, then store the frozen cubes in a sealed container until you’re ready to serve. 

Recipe: Baby’s First Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients

  • Whole cranberries (frozen or fresh)
  • Coconut oil or unsalted butter
  • Water

Directions

  1. Rinse the cranberries in a colander and pick out any stems and leaves.
  2. Place the cranberries in a saucepan with a tiny splash of water, and good whop of coconut oil. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low.
  3. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until the cranberries have completely cooked down. As the cranberries begin to soften, use a fork or potato masher to smash any remaining whole berries.
  4. Let the cranberry sauce cool, then set aside the portion you want to serve right away. Divide the rest in an ice cube tray and freeze. Store the cubes in a sealed container for future mealtimes.
  5. Serve the fresh cranberry sauce on top of ricotta cheese or yogurt, on toast, or on the side of brisket, duck, or venison. A little cranberry goes a long way!

Flavor Pairings

Cranberries pair well with cheese, gamey meats such as quail and venison, and with fatty meats like brisket and pork shoulder. Once you’ve introduced cranberries, consider adding some spices to the sauce as well. Cranberry pairs well with cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger.

  1. Auckland Allergy & Eczema Clinic, Salicylate Sensitivity (website) Retrieved December 30, 2019