Juneberries may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, though you may want to consider limiting the amount of raw berries served to ¼ cup or so as juneberries contain varying levels of amygdalin and prunasin, which the body can convert to cyanide. To date, there is no evidence that consuming raw juneberries is harmful to humans, though research is limited.
The leaves and twigs of the juneberry plant are toxic; never let a child put them in their mouth. Further, raw juneberries may contain small amounts of amygdalin and prunasin, naturally occurring cyanogenic substances present in many seeds and fruit pits. Cooking juneberries into a sauce is a method of cyanide detoxification. While there is no evidence of human toxicity from consuming raw juneberries, there are also no studies that have examined juneberry consumption in young children. We do know that Indigenous communities have been safely serving them to their children for thousands of years. It is our opinion that small amounts of raw juneberry are okay for babies 6 months and older. Out of an abundance of caution, consider limiting the amount offered to ¼ cup for infants younger than 12 months of age and ½ cup for toddlers over 12 months of age.
With their short harvesting season, juneberries are a welcome sign of summer in North America. Depending on where you are, you may know the fruit by a different name: serviceberry, sarvisberry, saskatoon, and shad or shad berry, to name a few. For some Indigenous communities, juneberries have historically been a staple food, eaten fresh or dried, pressed into cakes, or incorporated into pemmican. Juneberries grow wild in North America and are even planted on many city sidewalks, where they are grown for their beautiful spring blossoms.
Wei Wei, 9 months, eats juneberries on yogurt.
Yaroslava, 18 months, eats fresh juneberries.
Auguste, 19 months, eats fresh juneberries.
Yes, in small quantities. Juneberries contain fiber to support digestion and balance the microbiome, vitamins A and E to promote healthy vision and cell function, and B vitamins to bolster neurological development. Juneberries also contain small amounts of iron and are rich in anthocyanins – antioxidants that also give the berries their deep blue-purple color.
The potential downside is that raw juneberries can contain varying amounts of amygdalin and prunasin, naturally occurring cyanogenic substances present in many seeds and fruit pits. Cooking juneberries into a sauce is a method of detoxification.
While there is no evidence of human toxicity from consuming raw juneberries, we suggest you consider limiting the amount offered to ¼ cup for infants younger than 12 months of age and ½ cup for toddlers over 12 months of age as there are no studies that have documented how many fresh juneberries a child can safely eat. As with all foods, variety is key.
If you are foraging for your own juneberries, make sure to familiarize yourself with the characteristics of the plant and its berries to avoid any poisonous species. Juneberries are notable for a tiny erect crown on one end of each berry, similar to what you find on blueberries. Depending on where you live, potentially toxic plants that also grow dark berries include glossy buckthorn, pokeberry, and some nightshades.
Yes. The round shape of a juneberry is a choking hazard for babies. To minimize the risk, flatten each berry between your fingers (or with the back of a fork) or cook them down into a sauce. 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.
No, juneberries are not a common allergen though individuals who are sensitive or allergic to birch trees or who have Oral Allergy Syndrome (also called pollen food allergy syndrome) may be sensitive to juneberries. Oral Allergy Syndrome typically results in short-lived itching or burning in the mouth, and it is unlikely to result in a dangerous reaction. Cooking the fruit may help reduce reactions for those who are sensitive.
As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity for the first couple of servings. 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.
Smash fresh or cooked juneberries into a mash (it’s okay if the texture is lumpy) and serve atop of other foods that are easy for baby to scoop up with their hands or cling to spoons such as Greek yogurt, oatmeal, mashed potatoes, etc. Alternatively, you can also cook juneberries into a sauce and serve atop any food that will benefit from a tasty kick. If offering raw juneberries, consider limiting the amount offered to ¼ cup.
Flatten juneberries between your fingers or with the back of a fork so they are no longer round. From there you can serve as a finger food for baby to practice their pincer grasp or continue to mash and serve on top of other food. If offering raw juneberries, consider limiting the amount offered to ¼ cup.
Once a toddler is advancing in their eating skills well, pacing themselves (not stuffing or shoveling) and chewing with intention, you may offer whole juneberries without flattening them. You may want to demonstrate placing the berry between your own teeth and modeling dramatic chewing before offering one to your toddler whole. Be sure to create a safe eating environment when deciding to serve them for the first time. The toddler should be sitting in an upright high chair—not eating “on the go” in a stroller or the back seat of a car. If a child is not quite ready for the whole berry experience, build up their eating ability by flattening the berries a little less each time you serve. If offering raw juneberries, consider limiting the amount offered to ½ cup.
1 c (240 ml)
Arrowroot Powder - Skip or swap it for cornstarch or potato starch.
Juneberry - Substitute blackberry, blueberry, huckleberry, or any sweet-tart berry.
Rosemary - Skip or substitute mint, lemon verbena, or any herb that you want baby to learn to love.
Wash and destem the juneberries.
Juice the orange. Whisk the arrowroot powder into the juice.
Combine the juneberries, orange juice mixture, and enough water so that the berries are almost covered. Stir in sprig of rosemary.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries have mostly burst, about 10 minutes.
Discard the rosemary sprig, then mash any remaining whole berries. If you prefer smooth sauce, strain the berry skins and seeds. Set aside sauce for the child, then season the rest with salt to taste for yourself.
Serve the Sauce
Drizzle sauce on food that is easy for baby to grab and hold on their own, or swirl it into soft, scoopable food, then let the child self-feed.
If help is needed, hold the piece of food or a pre-loaded spoon in the air in front of the child, then let them grab it from you.
Eat some of the food alongside the child to model how it’s done.
Use as a substitute for maple syrup on pancakes, waffles, or toast.
Drizzle on lamb, steak, or venison to balance the meat’s rich flavor.
Swirl the sauce into porridge, ricotta cheese, or yogurt.
To Store: Juneberry Sauce keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days or in the freezer for 2 months.
Pediatrician & pediatric gastroenterologist
Pediatrician & pediatric allergist/immunologist
Pediatric occupational therapist, feeding & swallowing specialist, international board-certified lactation consultant
Speech-language pathologist, feeding & swallowing specialist
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