When can babies eat grapes?
Because grapes must be sliced into quarters to be safe for babies and the small slivers can be challenging for young babies to self-feed, you may want to wait until closer to 9 months of age to introduce this fruit.
Grapes are an extremely common choking hazard as they are round and slippery, widely consumed, and can be challenging to chew. Read on for how to prepare grapes for babies.
Background and origins of grapes
Across the planet, woody grapevines climb up trees and trellises, producing nutrient-rich edible leaves and clusters of juicy berries that range in color and flavor depending on the plant’s variety, of which there are thousands. Hieroglyphics, petroglyphs, and other historical records suggest that grapes have been part of the human diet for thousands of years in North America, Africa, and Asia. Today, most of the world’s cultivated grapes are turned into wine. The rest are eaten fresh as table grapes, dried to make raisins and sultanas, or processed into oil, vinegar, and sweet food products like candy, jam, jelly, molasses, syrup, and more. Most processed grape products are not appropriate for babies and toddlers for different reasons (choking hazards, excessively sweet, sometimes alcoholic, etc.), but fresh table grapes are a great way to introduce this ancient staple food to baby.
Are grapes healthy for babies?
Yes. Grapes contain fiber for gut health, plus some B-vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin K to fuel a baby’s growing body. Like other colorful fruits and vegetables, grapes are packed with powerful antioxidants called phytonutrients that support cell health and help offset risk of disease. Green and red grapes can offer more antioxidants than black, blue, orange, pink, purple, yellow, or white grapes.1
Grapes are packed with natural sugars, which is why they are often processed to make candy, jam, molasses, and other sweet food products. It would be wise to hold off on serving these types of products until the child is older as sweeteners can reduce the diversity of foods that a child is interested in eating, increase the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, and negatively impact cardiovascular health.2 3
Can babies drink grape juice?
No. Juice of any kind should not be given to babies under 12 months of age unless directed to do so by a healthcare provider.4
After the first birthday, small amounts of juice (less than 4 ounces a day, ideally diluted with water to reduce sweetness) may be safely offered.5 That said, it is our strong opinion that it is best to wait on serving juice until the second birthday. Even then, it would be wise to limit the amount offered to minimize sugar (including natural sugars in juice) in a child’s diet. Further, a recent Consumer Report’s analysis concluded that many brands of fruit juices may contain potentially harmful levels of toxins like arsenic, cadmium, and lead.6
Learn more about the impact of sugar and sweeteners.
Are grapes a common choking hazard for babies?
Yes. Grapes are an extremely common choking hazard as they are round and slippery, widely consumed, and can be challenging to chew.7 To minimize the risk, only offer large, oblong shaped grapes, quartered lengthwise (from stem to bottom) and remove any seeds before serving. Leave the skin on if you like, or remove the skin if it makes you nervous. As always, make sure to create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of a baby during mealtime. For more information, visit our section on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with common choking hazards.
Are grapes a common allergen?
No. Allergies to grapes are rare, although not unheard of.8 In theory, an individual can be allergic to any food. As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity for the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the amount over future meals.
How do you prepare grapes 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: Wait until a baby has developed the pincer grasp (where the pointer finger meets the thumb) and can pick up quartered grapes independently. While these skills tend to develop closer to the 9-month mark, some babies may be ready earlier. Regardless of age, quarter grapes lengthwise to reduce the risk of choking. You do not need to remove the skin but go ahead and remove it if it makes you nervous and be sure to remove any large seeds. When sharing grapes with baby, find the ones that are large and oblong, not small and round.
9 to 12 months old: Offer quartered grapes (cut lengthwise from stem to blossom) for baby to pick up independently. When sharing grapes with baby, find the ones that are large and oblong, not small and round. Leave the skin on if you like, but make sure to remove any large seeds. If baby is having a hard time picking up the quartered pieces, wait a couple more weeks. When babies are hungry, picking up small pieces of food can be challenging and frustrating when the tummy is growling. Babies get hangry, too!
12 to 24 months old: Offer quartered grapes (cut lengthwise from stem to bottom) for baby to pick up independently. When sharing grapes with baby, find the ones that are large and oblong, not small and round. Leave the skin on but do remove any large seeds. If you see that your child is consistently showing the ability to bite and tear with their teeth (likely around 18 months), you can offer grapes that have been cut in half (cutting lengthwise is best) though know that there is still some level of risk. Demonstrate how to bite into the grape in an exaggerated fashion before offering them to your child.
24 months old and up: Note that because whole grapes are a choking hazard, most health advisory bodies do not recommend offering them until age four. We believe that children must learn to chew challenging foods, and that it is safest when provided in a supervised setting with a caregiver so a child can develop the skills to safely manage these foods. When you feel your child has mature eating skills (moves food around in the mouth well, chews food before swallowing, etc.), consider offering whole grapes in a safe and supervised setting. If you have not yet offered grapes halved lengthwise, you may want to begin with this size before progressing. When serving whole grapes, find large, oblong ones (not the small, rounder ones), keep them on the stem (this slows down the process and discourages the child from overstuffing their mouth), and provide lots of modelling and coaching. We suggest demonstrating chewing with the molars prior to offering the grape: open your mouth, place the grape on your teeth and explain “I am using my big teeth to crush this grape.” You may want to consider holding the grape for your child to practice biting—hold at the corner of the mouth and allow your child to close their teeth on the grape. Coach your child to push hard to break through the grape skin and bite off a piece of the grape. You can make a big deal about the fun squish and squirt that happens when they chew through it! Do not offer whole grapes if your child is not sitting at the table and supervised until you are confident that your child will chew and swallow without coaching.
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
Recipe: Rainbow Fruit Salad
Yield: 2 cups (480 milliliters)
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Age: 9 months+
- 4 seedless grapes
- 4 large strawberries
- 1 banana
- 1 kiwi
- ½ cup (74 grams) blueberries
- 1 navel orange
- ½ cup (120 milliliters) yogurt (optional)
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) ground-up peanut (optional)
This recipe contains common allergens: dairy (yogurt) and peanut. Only serve to a child after these allergens have been safely introduced. Always check for potential allergens in ingredients listed on the labels of store-bought processed foods, such as yogurt. Added ingredients may also include honey, which should not be given to babies younger than 12 months.
- Use any combination of fruit from the ingredient list. Feel free to use frozen fruit—and don’t worry if some types of fruit are unavailable. Swap in your favorites!
- Defrost any frozen fruit. Wash all fruit. Remove and discard any leaves, seeds, and stems.
- Peel the banana. Cut into bite-sized pieces.
- Peel the kiwi. Cut into bite-sized pieces.
- Thinly slice the strawberries and flatten the blueberries between your fingers into a disc if your child is not ready for whole blueberries yet.
- Slice the grapes lengthwise into quarters from stem to bottom.
- Transfer the fruit to a mixing bowl. Halve the orange, and squeeze the juice from one half over the fruit. Gently stir to combine. Store the other orange half in its peel in the fridge–or snack on it as baby eats.
- You can serve the fruit salad on its own, on top of porridge, or on top of a soft-scoopable dairy product like ricotta cheese or yogurt. Scoop the dairy product into baby’s bowl, then top with some fruit salad. Exact serving size varies. Let the child decide how much to eat.
- If you like, sprinkle ground-up peanut on top. If you are introducing peanut for the first time, use a scant amount – about ¼ teaspoon (½ gram). Once peanut has been safely introduced, you can sprinkle more ground-up peanut on top of baby’s food to add flavor and nutrients. Just be sure the peanuts are completely ground up with no clumps of nut.
- Serve the fruit salad to baby as finger food and let the child try to self-feed. To encourage the use of a utensil, simply preload a spoon and rest it next to the food for the child to try to pick up. Alternatively, pass the preloaded spoon in the air for baby to grab.
To Store: Rainbow Fruit Salad keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Table grapes range in flavor—lots are super sweet, others are tart, and some are musky. Try pairing grapes with creamy foods like goat’s cheese, mascarpone cheese, or ricotta cheese to let their flavor shine, or bring out a grape’s musk by serving with earthy foods like almond, amaranth, buckwheat, butternut squash, couscous, quinoa, rice, Khorasan wheat, or walnut. Serve grapes with other sweet-tart foods like grapefruit, lemon, mango, melon, orange, strawberry, and tomato alongside protein-rich foods like beef, bison, egg, chicken, duck, lamb, salmon, and trout to compliment their savory flavor.
J. Truppi, MS, CNS. Certified Nutrition Specialist®
V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP. Board-Certified Pediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist
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
- Qing, L., Guo-Yi, T., Cai-Ning, Z., Xiao-Ling, F., Xiao-Yu, X., et al. (2018) Comparison of Antioxidant Activities of Different Grape Varieties. DOI: 10.3390/molecules23102432. Retrieved on February 10, 2021
- Fidler Mis, N., Braegger, C., Bronsky, J., Campoy, C., Domellöf, et al. (2017). Sugar in Infants, Children and Adolescents: A Position Paper of the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Committee on Nutrition. Journal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition, 65(6), 681–696. DOI:10.1097/MPG.0000000000001733. Retrieved February 10, 2020
- Jenco, M. (2016). AHA: Limit children’s sugar consumption to 6 teaspoons per day. American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved February 10, 2021
- Heyman, M., Abrams, S. (2017). Fruit Juice in Infants, Children, and Adolescents: Current Recommendations, Section on Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, Committee on Nutrition. Pediatrics, 139 (6) e20170967. DOI:10.1542/peds.2017-0967. Retrieved February 10, 2021
- American Academy of Pediatrics: HealthyChildren.org. (2017). Where We Stand: Fruit Juice. Retrieved September 15, 2020
- Hirsch, J. (2019). Arsenic and Lead Are In Your Fruit Juice: What You Need to Know. Consumer Reports. Retrieved February 15, 2021
- Lumsden, A. J., & Cooper, J. G. (2017). The choking hazard of grapes: a plea for awareness. Archives of disease in childhood, 102(5), 473–474. DOI: 10.1136/archdischild-2016-311750. Retrieved April 14, 2022.
- Bircher, A., Bigliardi, P., Yilmaz, B. (1999). Anaphylaxis resulting from selective sensitization to Americana grapes. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 104(5), 1111-1113. Retrieved February 10, 2021