Fresh figs (not dried) may be introduced as soon as your baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.
Native to the Mediterranean and Southwest Asia, fresh figs are an ancient fruit that represents enlightenment, fertility, prosperity, and other symbolic meanings associated with the fruit’s abundance and sensuality. When picked ripe from its vine, a fig is soft and sweet from soaking up the sun, so tender and plump that the delicate skin starts to burst at the seams and tiny dewdrops of sticky syrup ooze from its base. Perfectly ripe figs are hard to find because they are difficult to pack in bulk and transport from farm to market to table. Unless you are fortunate to have access to a fig tree, the more readily available option is the dried fig, which is not at all a substitute for the taste, texture, and joy of eating the fresh fruit. Dried figs certainly have their merits (there is a reason the Fig Newton is one of the world’s favorite cookies) but like all dehydrated fruits, they are a choking hazard for our littlest eaters.
Amelia, 6 months, eats fig for the first time.
Adie, 11 months, eats fresh fig.
Callie, 13 months, eats fresh fig.
Yes. Fresh figs are a great source of fiber for a healthy gut, vitamins B5 and B6 for cell energy, and copper to help your baby absorb iron—a critical nutrient to power developing babies.
There are many fig varieties, each with variations in color of skin and flesh, from Black Mission figs with deep purple skin and crimson flesh, to the Brown Turkey figs with green skin with a purple blush and ruby flesh, to the Brunswick figs with golden and dusty pink flesh. These colors indicate different nutrient profiles: darker varieties contain more phytochemicals than figs with lighter skin, and skins contain more nutrients than the flesh.
No matter which one you serve, all fresh figs are naturally high in sugars, which makes the fruit a delicious alternative to baked or packaged sweets. To balance all that sugar, try serving fresh figs alongside protein and healthy fats, such as nuts, seeds, yogurt, or cheese.
★Tip: Fresh figs perish easily! Store them unwashed (any residual water on the fruit can cause mildew) in your fridge. If you’ve got the space, space them on a plate, so that each one has room to breathe. Figs in a container bruise wherever they’re touching their neighbors.
They can be. You won’t find fresh figs listed among the common choking hazards for babies, but any fruit with a tough skin or membrane can increase the risk of choking. Dried figs are a choking hazard for babies—as is all dried fruit. Hold off on serving dried figs, and instead, opt for fresh fruit when it’s available. Check out our age-appropriate serving suggestions, and, as always, stay near your baby during meals.
No. Fig allergies are uncommon, though not unheard of. Individuals with Oral Allergy Syndrome (also known as pollen food allergy) may be sensitive to figs. As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity on its own for the first couple of servings and watch closely. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience.
Cut the stem end of a soft, ripe fig, then slice in half lengthwise, from stem to bottom. If the fig is on the large side, a halved fig can be a great size for babies to hold and munch on at this stage of development, and they often happily suck and scrape the flesh from the skin. If your baby bites off a too-big piece, stay calm as this is a learning moment. It’s important to give little ones an opportunity to independently work the food out of their mouths. If you’re nervous about serving big pieces of food, you can always mash fresh figs by removing the skin and mixing the fruit into soft, spreadable foods like cornmeal, oatmeal, mascarpone, ricotta cheese, or yogurt.
Quarter ripe figs lengthwise and remove the stem. If the fig is on the large side, cut the quarters again in half so you have small, bite-size pieces about the size of an adult fingernail. Serve on their own as a treat or alongside your baby’s meal as a sweet side to balance savory foods.
Offer ripe quartered figs or bite-sized pieces as you like. As your child learns to take accurate sized bites, you may feel comfortable serving larger sizes, such as halved figs.
When your toddler is taking accurate sized bites and listening to instructions, try coaching them in how to eat a whole fig. Double check that the fig is ripe and soft. First, show them how to twist off the woody stem and take small bites of the fruit. Alternatively, you can teach them to pull the fruit open to inspect the inside and to take bites from there. The top of the fig (the more pointed end) tends to be easier to bite through, so once the stem has been removed, coach the child how to hold the fig's fat bottom part and take bites from the top. Fig skin can be challenging to chew, so expect some spitting as the child learns how to break it down with their molars.
1 cup fresh figs
4 tablespoons soft goat cheese
½ tsp balsamic vinegar (optional)
Wash the figs. Slice off and compost the stems. Cut the fruit into age-appropriate sizes.
Transfer the figs to your baby’s bowl. Crumble the cheese on top. Set aside.
If you’d like to add a little flavor, finish the bowl with a drizzle of high-quality balsamic vinegar.
Serve and encourage your baby to scoop with hands. You can also pre-load a baby fork to aid utensil practice.
The sweetness of fresh figs pairs beautifully with hearty fats in rich meats (bacon, chicken liver, duck, ham, and venison are lovely); soft, creamy cheeses like fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, and ricotta; and protein-packed nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts. The old adage “opposites attract” works with figs so try serving alongside acidic fruits like citrus or tomato in salads and grain dishes. When baking with fresh figs, experiment with your family’s favorite spices to add layers of flavor. Warm spices like anise, cinnamon, and vanilla taste just as delicious as earthy ones like cumin, coriander, and turmeric.
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