When can babies eat prunes?
Prunes may be introduced as soon as your baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Dried fruit is a choking hazard so be sure to rehydrate whole prunes and finely chop or offer prunes in the form of a purée.
Background and origins of prunes
Prunes are simply dried plums—a diverse species of stone fruit that range in color, shape, and taste, from immensely sweet to deeply tart and tangy. While any plum can technically become a prune over time, the dried plum labeled as “prunes” in your local grocery store most likely came from California or France, the world’s leading producers of the “prune plum” variety. Glossy and wrinkled, they taste of caramel and grape, with plump, sticky flesh that exudes concentrated sweetness. They stand in stark contrast to huamei, a salty, tangy dried plum from China; umeboshi, a deeply tart dried plum from Japan; and aloo bukhara, a sweet-and-sour dried plum from the Caspian Sea region. As the range of flavor suggests, dried plums are used worldwide in both sweet and savory dishes—from candy seasoned with a dried plum powder called li hing miu in Hawaii; to the rich and jammy tarte aux pruneaux of France, to sweet-and-sour plum chutneys in India, to khoresh-e aloo esfenaj, the savory Persian lamb and spinach stew.
★Tip: Constipation is a common problem when starting solids but thankfully it can be curbed with fiber-rich foods.1 Try serving beans, chia seeds, flaxseed oil, or the “P” fruits: peaches, pears, plums, and yes, prunes—and make sure to let your baby’s healthcare provider know about the constipation.
Are prunes healthy for babies?
Yes—in moderation. A prune is a nutritional powerhouse that offers lots of protein, fiber, and nutrients, including vitamin B6 to help process protein, potassium to balance fluid levels, vitamin K for healthy blood, and antioxidants that give the fruit its deep purple color. A prune’s beneficial nutrients offer myriad health benefits—from bone health to cell protection to a strong immune system—however, they are very sweet.2 3 4 Naturally-occurring sugars account for nearly 50% of their weight.5
On the plus side, prunes contain sorbitol, a naturally occurring sugar-like substance that helps soften stools. The combination of sorbitol and fiber makes prunes work wonders for gut health.6 So while prunes and other dried fruits should not be served with regularity to children due to the high sugar content, for babies and toddlers who are constipated, a prune can help get the job done!
Prunes are sold with and without their pits—and both are equally delicious. However, what the pitted fruit saves in time, it gives up in flavor and texture. Once the pit is removed, the inner flesh is exposed, and the fruit begins to lose some of its potency. Look for prunes in see-through containers so you can assess the freshness. Fresh prunes are soft and shiny—not hard and dull.
★Tip: Plums (and all stone fruits) are heavily sprayed with fungicides, insecticides, and pesticides so it’s a good fruit to buy organic if you can.7 8 9 Organic prunes not only have less of an environmental impact, but they may contain more beneficial phytonutrients.10
Are prunes a common choking hazard for babies?
Yes. Dried fruit is a choking hazard for babies up to 12 months old.11 Check out our age-appropriate suggestions on how to prepare prunes.
Is prune a common allergen?
No. However, 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 plums/prunes.12 13 Oral Allergy Syndrome typically results in short-lived itching in the mouth and is unlikely to result in a dangerous reaction. Individuals who are sensitive to apricots, peaches, and plums may also be sensitive to prunes.14
As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity on its own for the first couple of servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.
How to cut whole prunes 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 12 months old: A prune pouch or purée is the way to go at this age. If you’d like to work with whole prunes, take care to remove the pits and rehydrate the fruit in hot water for 15 minutes. Once soft, finely chop, mash, or purée and fold into other foods, such as oatmeal or yogurt.
12 to 18 months old: Finely chop cooked or dried prunes (there’s no need to rehydrate them at this age though cooking will reduce any risk further). You can, of course, continue to use prune pouches or jars if you are in need of a constipation fix.
18 to 24 months old: At this age, your toddler may now have the biting, tearing, chewing and swallowing skills needed to eat a whole prune. You can also cut prunes into smaller pieces if you are not confident that your child can bite through and tear the whole prune adequately. Dried fruit is a choking hazard so trust your gut and wait to serve whole prunes until you feel your child is ready. When that time does come, model how to take a bite by showing your teeth as you bite a prune and verbally coaching your child to follow your lead. Note: Prunes are sold with and without the pits. Be sure to remove the pit before serving.
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
Recipe: Move-It-Along Prune Parfait
Yield: 1 child-sized serving
Time: 15 minutes
- 1 prune pouch or 3 fresh prunes
- ¼ cup unsweetened, full-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds (ideally pre-hydrated in some warm water)
- 1 pinch ground cardamom, cinnamon, or lemon zest
- If you’re starting with fresh prunes, rehydrate in hot water for 15 minutes, then mash with a fork or a small food processor until smooth.
- Soak the chia seeds in 1 tablespoon of hot water for 15 minutes.
- Mix the Greek yogurt, prune puree, chia seeds, and seasoning in your baby’s bowl.
Place the bowl in front of your child along with a baby spoon. To encourage self-feeding, pre-load the spoon and either hand it in the air or rest it on the edge of the bowl for your baby to grab.
This recipe contains a common allergen: dairy. Only serve to your child after this individual allergen has been introduced safely.
Prunes are very sweet with flavor notes of caramel, honey, and wine. Offset the sweetness with tangy foods like fresh blueberries, cherries, goat cheese, mascarpone cheese, orange, tomato, or yogurt—or enhance it by pairing with rich meats like bacon, beef, lamb, spare rib, or venison or heart-healthy nuts like almond, hazelnut, or walnut. Prunes taste delicious with spices, so try seasoning your prune dishes with cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, or your favorite spice.
J. Truppi, MSN, CNS
V. Kalami, MNSP, RD
K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT
S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. (allergy section)
R. Ruiz, MD Board-Certified General Pediatrician and Pediatric Gastroenterologist
- Rowan-Legg, A., Canadian Pediatric Society, Community Pediatrics Committee (2011). Managing functional constipation in children. Pediatrics & child health, 16(10), 661–670. Retrieved November 20, 2020
- Piga, A., Del Caro, A., Corda, G. (2003). From plums to prunes: influence of drying parameters on polyphenols and antioxidant activity. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 51(12), 3675–3681. DOI:10.1021/jf021207+. Retrieved November 20, 2020
- Morabbi Najafabad, A., & Jamei, R. (2014). Free radical scavenging capacity and antioxidant activity of methanolic and ethanolic extracts of plum (Prunus domestica L.) in both fresh and dried samples. Avicenna journal of phytomedicine, 4(5), 343–353. Retrieved November 20, 2020
- Wallace T. C. (2017). Dried Plums, Prunes and Bone Health: A Comprehensive Review. Nutrients, 9(4), 401. DOI:10.3390/nu9040401. Retrieved November 20, 2020
- McGee, H. (1984). On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. New York, NY: Scribner
- Lever, E., Scott, S. M., Louis, P., Emery, P. W., & Whelan, K. (2019). The effect of prunes on stool output, gut transit time and gastrointestinal microbiota: A randomized controlled trial. Clinical nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland), 38(1), 165–173. DOI:10.1016/j.clnu.2018.01.003. Retrieved November 20, 2020
- European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Brancato, A., Brocca, D., et al. (2018). Setting of import tolerances for flubendiamide in apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums and soya beans. EFSA Journal, 16(1):e05128. DOI:10.2903/j.efsa.2018.5128. Retrieved November 20, 2020
- Oregon State University. (2018). Prune and Plum Pest Management for Willamette Valley. Retrieved November 20, 2020
- Słowik-Borowiec, M., Szpyrka, E., Rupar, J., Matyaszek, A., Podbielska, M. (2015). Pesticide residues in stone fruits from the south-eastern region of Poland in 2012-2104. Roczniki Panstwowego Zakladu Higieny, 66(3):211-6. PMID: 26400116. Retrieved November 20, 2020
- 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
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Choking Hazards. Retrieved November 20, 2020
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. (2020). Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) or Fruit Pollen Syndrome (PFS). Retrieved November 20, 2020
- Mayo Clinic. (2019). Food Allergy. Retrieved November 20, 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. https://doi.org/10.1016/0091-6749(94)90177-5