When can babies eat blueberries?
Blueberry may be introduced as soon as your baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.
Background and origins of blueberries
Blueberries are part of the same plant family as cranberries, huckleberries, and lingonberries. Wild varieties of this berry grow on low shrubs in fields, forests, and mountaintops throughout the Americas—their native home. They range in color from cobalt to indigo to midnight blue to black and ripen in the hot summer months. Wild blueberries are typically smaller and taste much sweeter than their cultivated cousins from “highbush” blueberry plants, the type most often grown on commercial farms.
When you see a pint of blueberries at your local grocery store, they are most likely highbush blueberries grown commercially in Canada, the United States, or Mexico. Keep an eye out at the farmer’s market in July and August for wild blueberries. They’re a rare treat!
Are blueberries healthy for babies?
Absolutely. Blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin K (for healthy blood) and they are also a great source of vitamin C, which helps our bodies absorb iron from plants, so serve blueberries alongside iron-rich plant foods like lentils and beans. But it’s the powerful concentration of antioxidants that gives blueberries their superfood status. Blueberries are among the fruits and vegetables highest in antioxidants that help protect our cells from damage and support our DNA functionality, immune system, and liver health. If you can swing it, buy organic blueberries. Berries are high on the list of commercially grown fruits with the most pesticides, in part because birds and squirrels love to eat them. If organic blueberries are not possible for your family, remember that fruit is better than no fruit.
Word to the wise: blueberries are high in fiber. That means when babies eat large quantities of blueberries, there’s a poop blow-out coming your way!
Are blueberries a common choking hazard for babies?
Yes. The round shape of a blueberry is a choking hazard for your baby. To minimize the risk, flatten or quarter blueberries and check out our age-appropriate serving suggestions. As always, stay near your baby during meal time.
When can babies eat whole blueberries?
Blueberries are a choking hazard until age four or five because of their round, firm shape. Once your child becomes an advanced eater (chewing and swallowing well and not smashing fistfuls of food into their mouth) you can try offering whole blueberries in a safe eating environment. You may also “graduate” to whole blueberries by flattening the berries a little less each time you serve them.
Are blueberries a common allergen?
No. However, individuals who are sensitive to salicylates may be sensitive to blueberries.1
How do you prepare blueberries 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: To serve blueberries on their own, flatten each berry to make a disc. Serving atop of scoopable food will help baby pick them up. If baby gags, take a deep breath and try to let your little one work the blueberry forward independently. Smashed blueberries can also be mixed into soft foods, such as Greek yogurt, oatmeal, or ricotta cheese. Cooked blueberries (in muffins, pancakes, and other baked goods) can be left whole because they soften and burst with heat.
9 to 12 months old: Continue to flatten the berries before serving to reduce the choking risk, though as baby’s eating skills progress, consider flattening a little less over time.
12 to 24 months old: Continue to flatten the berries to reduce choking risk. At this age, you may find that your baby is ready to eat a whole blueberry. Take into account the child’s eating ability before serving whole blueberries, and once they’re ready, be sure to create a safe eating environment when serving them for the first time. Your baby should be sitting in an upright highchair—not eating “on the go” in a stroller or the back seat of a car. If your baby is not quite ready for the “whole berry” experience, build up eating ability by flattening the berries a little less each time you serve.
Recipe: Purple Oatmeal
Yield: 1 ½ cups (360 milliliters)
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Age: 6 months+
- ½ cup (43 grams) dry instant oats
- ½ cup (120 milliliters) unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
- ½ cup (120 milliliters) water
- ½ cup (74 grams) blueberries
This recipe contains a common allergen: coconut (coconut milk). While coconut allergy is rare, it’s classified as a tree nut by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Additionally, be sure to check the ingredient list on the label of instant oats for potential allergens, such as wheat. Only serve to a child after these allergens have been safely introduced.
- Combine the oats, coconut milk, and water in a saucepan. If you opened a can of coconut milk, consider using the rest for chia pudding!
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to create a bare simmer.
- While the oats are cooking, wash the blueberries. Remove any stems.
- Add half of the blueberries to the pot then use a fork or potato masher to smash the berries. Make sure to break down the skins (they are super healthy!) but if any large pieces remain, pick them out to reduce the choking risk.
- Turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes until the oatmeal has thickened. While the oatmeal is thickening, mash the remaining berries.
- Scoop some oatmeal into baby’s bowl. Serving size varies. Let the child decide how much to eat. Spoon some of the remaining mashed berries on top. Let the mixture cool to room temperature before serving to baby.
- Offer the bowl to baby and let the child self-feed. Here you have options: you can let baby scoop the porridge with hands, or you can pre-load a spoon for baby. Try passing the preloaded spoon in the air for the child to grab. Alternatively, rest the preloaded spoon next to baby’s bowl and let the child try to pick it up. Or both!
To Store: Purple Oatmeal and leftover mashed blueberries keep in airtight containers in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for 2 months.
The tart flavor of blueberries pairs well with hearty nuts like almonds and walnuts, warm spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and vanilla; and sweet fruits like apple, pear, and peach. The sweetness of wild blueberries makes an amazing compote to serve with wild game, such as elk and venison.