When can babies eat plums?
Plums may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Eating plums can have a laxative effect, so while this fruit can be a terrific food when baby is constipated, take care to not overdo it. Looking for prunes? See the prune page.
Where do plums come from?
Plums are an ancient fruit that grew wild in North America, Europe, and Asia before humans learned to domesticate the tree and its fruit thousands of years ago. That agricultural innovation marked the start of a major growth spurt on the plum family tree. Today there are thousands of varieties of plums that come in every color of the rainbow and all sorts of shapes and tastes – from the immensely sweet mirabelles and gages, to the deeply tart and tangy damsons. Some are even astringent, such as the blackthorns used to make plum liqueurs like patxaran in Spain and sloe gin in the United Kingdom.
Perfectly ripe plums have a short shelf life, which has inspired numerous techniques to preserve the fruit. There are condiments like Chinese plum sauce and Indian plum chutney, pickled Iranian gojeh sabz and salted Japanese umeboshi, and myriad ways to make plum jams and jellies around the world. Most preserves are too salty or sugary for babies and toddlers, but there are plenty of quick and easy ways to prepare the fresh fruit. Serve plums on their own when they are ripe and bursting with juice. You can also make stewed plums – one way to introduce the fruit that doesn’t make you wait until a perfectly ripe plum is available. Although you and baby will be rewarded with deliciousness if you do!
★Tip: How do you know when a plum is ripe? Smell it. Plum should have a sweet aroma – the deeper the fragrance, the riper the fruit. You can also hold it. A ripe plum feels tender when gently squeezed in your palm – not your fingers, which can bruise the fruit.
Are plums healthy for babies?
Yes. Plums offer potassium and vitamins A, C, and K. Together, these essential nutrients support nerve function and build healthy cells, tissue and bones. The fruit also contains antioxidants and soluble fiber, which helps diversify friendly bacteria in the gut, support digestion, and maintain optimal cell function. Just remember that plums can cause gastrointestinal discomfort like bloating and gas while also having a laxative effect, so take care not to overdo it.
Plums come in different colors, each with unique nutrients. For example, green plums contain quercetin, while both red and purple plums contain anthocyanins – different types of antioxidants that protect against cell damage and inflammation.
Many plums are sprayed heavily with pesticides.1 To minimize exposure, wash the fruit before serving to children and opt for organic when possible.
★Tip: If fresh plums are not available, choose frozen or canned plums packed in water or natural juices and do your best to avoid plums in syrups, which are typically high in added sugars. Only have canned plums in syrup? Try draining the plums of their syrup and rinsing them before serving to remove excess sugars.2 You can also try serving prunes.
Are plums a common choking hazard for babies?
Yes. Plums can present a choking risk when fruit is firm and/or small. Dried plums (also called prunes) are a common choking hazard, like all dried fruit. Plums also contain a hard pit that should be removed before serving babies and toddlers. As always, make sure to create a safe eating environment and stay within arm’s reach of baby at mealtime.
Are plums a common allergen?
No. Although severe allergic reactions to plum have been reported, plum is not considered to be a common allergen.3 Some individuals with a history of severe reactions to certain stone fruits (such as cherry, peach, and nectarine) or latex may be at increased risk of plum allergy. Individuals who are sensitive or allergic to birch trees, or who have Oral Allergy Syndrome (also called “pollen food” allergy syndrome) to other foods in the Rosaceae or stone fruit family, may also be sensitive to plums.4 5 Oral Allergy Syndrome typically results in short-lived itching, tingling, or burning in the mouth, and is unlikely to result in a dangerous reaction. Cooking and peeling the fruit may help reduce reactions for those who are sensitive.
As you would do when introducing any new food, start by offering a small amount for the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the amount served over future meals.
How do you prepare plums for babies with baby-led weaning?
Every baby develops on their own timeline. The preparation suggestions below are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional, nutritionist or dietitian, or expert in pediatric feeding and eating. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
6 to 9 months old: Stew larger varieties of fresh or frozen plums (at least 2 inches in diameter) cut in half with the pit and skin removed. Serve the stewed plum halves on their own, or mash and mix the fruit into porridge or creamy foods like ricotta cheese or yogurt. You can also puree stewed plums to create a sauce to serve with meatballs, patties, or pancakes. If you’d like to serve fresh plum, go for it but be sure to offer a larger variety (at least two inches in diameter) that is pitted, halved, and so ripe that the fruit smushes between your fingers. If you feel more comfortable removing the skin, go for it, but it makes the fruit more difficult to pick up.
9 to 12 months old: This is a good age to serve fresh pitted plums of any size as long as they are soft and ripe. To reduce the risk of choking, cut tiny varieties into halves or quarters, and for larger varieties (2 inches in diameter or up) cut into thin slices or bite-sized pieces, which can help baby develop the pincer grasp, where the thumb and forefinger meet. Decide whether to leave the skin on or off; the texture can help baby grip the slippery fruit. You can also add grip by rolling freshly cut plum in almond flour, breadcrumbs, or finely shredded coconut. If you’d like to continue with offering stewed plums or larger varieties of fresh plums that are very soft, pitted, and halved, by all means do so.
12 to 18 months old: Offer slices or bite-sized pieces of ripe pitted plums with the skin on or off. If you like, try introducing a fork, though keep in mind that using utensils can be exhausting for new eaters, and many children toggle back and forth between feeding themselves with their fingers and utensils. Try not to apply too much pressure because consistent and accurate utensil use will come in due time – probably between 18 and 24 months of age. If you’d like to continue with fresh pitted plum halves or stewed plums, go right ahead.
18 to 24 months old: At this age, many toddlers are ready to go back up in size to fresh or stewed pitted plum halves with the skin on. Expect some too-big bites to happen as the child learns to take manageable bites. Toddlers may also spit out the skin as they learn to grind it with their new molars.
24 months and up: When you feel the child understands instructions, try offering a whole plum and model how to eat around the pit by eating a plum alongside the child. Be sure to stay within an arm’s reach in case your child needs closer help avoiding the pit. If you feel the child is not ready for whole fruit with pits, continue to offer stewed plums halves or bite-sized pieces of a fresh plum that is soft and ripe.
Stuck in a puffs and pouches rut? Check out our snack guide for 100 healthy and easy ideas for babies and toddlers.
Recipe: Stewed Plums
Yield: 1 ½ cups (300 grams)
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Age: 6 months+
- 4 plums (300 grams)
- 1 cup (250 milliliters) water
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) lemon juice
- 1 cinnamon stick or spice of choice (optional)
- Wash and dry the fruit. It’s okay if the fruit is not perfectly ripe.
- Halve the fruit. Remove and discard the pits and stems.
- Bring the water to a boil.
- Add the plums and lemon juice, along with the cinnamon stick if you are using it. Go ahead and substitute any seasoning that you like – cardamom pods, fresh ginger, peppercorns, star anise, or any bold spice tastes great with the sweet-tart flavor of plum.
- Lower the heat to create a gentle simmer. Cook until the plums are soft, but not falling apart, between 5 and 15 minutes depending on the ripeness and size of the fruit
- Remove the pan from the heat and discard the spice. Use a slotted spoon to lift 1 or 2 halves from the hot liquid to the child’s plate. Transfer the rest with some of the stewing liquid to an air-tight container and let cool before storing in the fridge for future meals.
- When the plum halves on the child’s plate have cooled to the touch, peel and discard the skins and cut the fruit into age-appropriate sizes.
- Let the child self-feed by scooping with hands. If you’d like to encourage the use of a utensil, simply pre-load an age-appropriate fork and rest it next to the plate for the child to try to pick up. Alternatively, pass the pre-loaded fork in the air for the child to grab from you.
To Store: Stewed plums keep in air-tight container in the fridge for 1 week.
The sweet and tart taste of plum pairs well with hearty meats like brisket, chicken, duck, lamb, and pork; earthy nuts like almond, hazelnut, and pistachio; and nutty grains like freekeh, Khorasan wheat, oats, quinoa, and rice. Seasoning from bold spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger and assertive fresh herbs like basil, chives, and mint bring out the plum’s flavor. And don’t forget cheese—plums taste delicious with the creaminess of goat cheese, mascarpone cheese, and ricotta cheese.
E. Cerda, MSN, CNS, LDN
A. Gilbaugh, RD, CNSC
K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT
S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)
R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist
- Cuevas, F.J., Pradas, I., Ruiz-Moreno, M.J., Arroyo, F.T., Perez-Romero, L.F., et al. (2015). Effect of Organic and Conventional Management on Bio-Functional Quality of Thirteen Plum Cultivars (Prunus salicina Lindl.). PloS one,10(8),e0136596. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0136596. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
- Fresh, Frozen or Canned Fruits and Vegetables: All Can Be Healthy Choices! (n.d.). Www.Heart.Org. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
- David TJ. Anaphylactic shock during elimination diets for severe atopic eczema. Arch Dis Child 1984;59:983-6. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
- American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) or Pollen Fruit Syndrome (PFS). Retrieved September 15, 2020.
- Pastorello, E. A., Ortolani, C., Farioli, L., Pravettoni, V., Ispano, M., Borga, A., Bengtsson, A., Incorvaia, C., Berti, C., & Zanussi, C. (1994). Allergenic cross-reactivity among peach, apricot, plum, and cherry in patients with oral allergy syndrome: an in vivo and in vitro study. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, 94(4), 699–707. DOI: 10.1016/0091-6749(94)90177-5. Retrieved August 17, 2021.