As babies begin exploring solid foods around 6 months of age, parents often wonder which fruits are safe for their little ones. While most fruits are perfectly healthy for babies, there are some that should be avoided or introduced with caution due to choking hazards or nutritional concerns. This article outlines the fruits babies should not eat, including why and when to introduce them.
Fruits to Avoid for Babies Under 12 Months
The following fruits should be avoided for babies under 12 months old:
Grapes are one of the top choking hazards for babies and young children. Whole grapes should not be given to babies under 12 months as they present a major choking risk. Even for toddlers, grapes should be cut lengthwise and served in small pieces.
Like grapes, whole cherries are a choking hazard due to their round shape and slippery texture. Cherries with pits should not be given to babies under 12 months. Even without pits, cherries should be chopped well and given cautiously under supervision.
Whole Cherry/Grape Tomatoes
Small round foods like cherry and grape tomatoes are risky due to babies’ underdeveloped chewing and swallowing abilities. Cherry or grape tomatoes can get lodged in a baby’s airway. It’s best to avoid giving babies whole tomatoes until 12 months.
While they may seem harmless, raisins are easy to choke on and get stuck in airways. Even when soggy or wet, raisins can pose a choking hazard. It’s best to avoid raisins entirely for babies under 1 year.
Popcorn is extremely risky for babies and young toddlers, as the kernels can break off and block airways. Whole kernels should never be given. Even popped popcorn can be a choking hazard until age 4. It’s best to wait until at least 12 months to introduce very small amounts of fully popped, cooled popcorn.
Beyond raisins, all dried fruits like dried apricots, cranberries, mango, etc. should be avoided for babies under 12 months. Their chewy, dried texture makes them a choking risk. Wait until age 1 to introduce small pieces of dried fruits under supervision.
Unripe or under ripe papaya contains latex fluid that can irritate babies’ digestive system. Fully ripe papaya is fine for babies over 6 months. But green, under ripe papaya should be avoided until 12 months.
Oranges, grapefruits, mandarins and other citrus fruits are highly acidic. Their acidic juice may be upsetting for some babies’ sensitive digestive systems. Wait until 12 months to introduce small amounts of peeled citrus fruits.
Fruits to Use Caution When Introducing
Some fruits need extra precautions when introducing between 6-12 months. Use caution with the following:
Apples are often one of the first fruits introduced to babies due to their soft, mild flavor. However, raw apple chunks are a choking risk. It’s safest to cook apples into purees or bake until soft before serving.
Like apples, raw pear chunks could present a choking hazard. Cook pears or puree them before serving to babies. As babies approach 12 months and gain chewing skills, some raw soft ripe pear may be tolerated.
Small berries like strawberries, blueberries and raspberries may pose a choking risk. Mash them well, mix into purees or cook them for the first introduction. Around 10-12 months, ripe peeled berries can be tried in very small pieces with supervision.
Prunes and dried plums have a very sticky chewy texture that requires more advanced chewing skills. Cook and puree prunes to initially introduce. Around 10 months, tender diced prunes can be tried in small amounts if chewed well.
Fresh apricots have a soft fuzzy skin that babies may struggle to swallow properly. Peel and cook apricots for first introduction around 8 months, and monitor carefully when serving raw pieces as babies approach 1 year.
This juicy melon has a smooth, slippery texture. Babies may struggle to grasp pieces and move them to the back of the mouth for swallowing. Scrape melon flesh into purees or mash very small pieces before serving.
Pineapple’s tangy juice can be irritating for some babies. Plus the fibrous flesh takes more chewing skills. Start with cooked pureed pineapple around 6-8 months. Gradually advance to diced pieces as chewing improves near 1 year.
Fruits to Avoid for Babies with Allergies
Babies with suspected or diagnosed food allergies may need to avoid certain fruits entirely, especially high allergen fruits like:
Strawberries are a common allergen, especially for babies with latex sensitivity. Avoid them entirely for babies with suspected allergies.
Kiwi allergy often goes hand-in-hand with latex fruit allergies. Skip kiwi for babies with multiple fruit allergies.
Like kiwi, mango allergies are closely linked to latex fruit allergies. Avoid in babies with suspected fruit allergies.
Banana allergy is less common but can occur. Avoid bananas or any plantation bananas like red bananas for babies with allergy concerns.
Oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit are common allergens. Avoid all citrus fruits in babies with known allergies to any citrus varieties.
Safely Introducing New Fruits
When introducing new fruits to your baby’s diet, follow these tips for safety:
- Start with cooked purees and mashed fruits
- Focus on mild flavors like pears and apples initially
- Gradually advance textures as chewing skills improve
- Start with small amounts like 1-2 tsp
- Wait 3-5 days between new foods to check for reactions
- Always supervise feeding and watch for choking
Around 8 months, diced soft fruits can be tried. By 12 months, most babies can manage small pieces of raw soft fruits as chewing, grasping and swallowing skills improve. But some fruits should still be avoided at 1 year or prepared carefully. Follow baby’s lead and watch for readiness with new textures.
Choking Risks and Prevention
To prevent choking on fruits, follow these guidelines:
- Avoid hard, round, whole fruits before 12 months like grapes, berries, cherry tomatoes
- Cook fruits or puree to soft consistency for first intro
- As baby approaches 1 year, steam or bake fruits to soften before serving
- Cut all fruits and vegetables into small, manageable pieces
- Remove all pits, seeds and tough skins
- Always stay seated with baby during meals and snacks
- Watch for gagging or choking on any foods and discontinue if concerns arise
If your baby starts choking, immediately perform back blows and chest thrusts. Call emergency help if choking persists. Preventing choking is key since babies have underdeveloped gag reflexes.
Health Benefits of Fruits
Fruits offer great nutritional value for growing babies including:
- Vitamin C for immunity
- Fiber for digestion
- Antioxidants like vitamin A for eyesight and organ health
- Potassium for muscle and nerve function
- folate for healthy blood and growth
- Phytochemicals and flavonoids for cell health
Fruits also familiarize babies with sweet flavors other than breast milk or formula. They provide variety and important nutrients for supplementing a baby’s diet after 6 months of age. Babies can continue eating fruits, along with vegetables and grains, as they transition to table foods around 12 months old.
To get the most nutrition from fruits:
- Serve a rainbow of colors like berries, orange slices, melon, mango
- Leave skins on when possible, as nutrients concentrate in or near peels
- Cook lightly via steaming to preserve water-soluble vitamins
- Pair fruits with yogurt or oatmeal for balanced snacks and meals
- Offer fruits 2-3 times per day as first foods and snacks
Avoid overcooking fruits to limit vitamin loss. Introduce one fruit at a time and aim for variety week-to-week for well-rounded nutrition.
Common Fruit Allergies
Fruit allergies in babies are fairly uncommon but possible. Common fruit allergy triggers include:
- Berries – strawberries, blueberries, blackberries
- Citrus – oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes
- Melons – cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon
- Tropical fruits – mango, kiwi, pineapple, passionfruit
- Stone fruits – peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots
Babies may react to just one type or several fruits. Reactions can include rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and breathing issues. Anaphylactic reactions are rare but possible. If multiple symptoms appear rapidly, seek immediate medical assistance.
To assess fruit allergies, parents should:
- Introduce new fruits individually
- Wait 3-5 days between introductions
- Watch closely for adverse reactions after each new food
- Avoid any suspect fruits that seem to trigger reactions
- Consult a pediatrician if allergy is suspected
Testing can help identify or rule out specific fruit allergies. Work closely with baby’s doctor to manage fruit introductions safely.
Gagging vs. Choking
Knowing the difference between gagging and choking can help parents respond appropriately:
- Common as babies learn to handle foods
- Gag reflex kicks in to avoid choking
- Baby remains conscious
- Excess saliva production
- Color remains normal
- Breathing and crying occurs between gagging
Allow gagging to run its course. It protects airways. Do not immediately grab food from baby’s mouth during gagging.
- Blocked airway
- Difficulty breathing
- No coughing or crying heard
- Baby clutches throat
- Face turns red or blue
- Loss of consciousness can occur
If the baby’s airway is completely blocked, immediately perform back blows, chest thrusts and/or abdominal thrusts if needed. Call 911 if choking persists.
Crunchy Fruits for Older Babies
Around 10-12 months, babies can gradually begin handling more textured fruits. Some crunchy fruits to try under supervision include:
- Chunks of soft ripe pear or peeled apple – steam to soften
- Melon cubes – avoid round chunks
- Soft ripe peach slices – peeled with pit removed
- Banana slices – mash lightly with fork if very firm
- Berries – blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
- Diced mango or papaya – remove skin
- Pinched off broccoli florets – well-cooked
Crunchy fruits introduce new chewing skills. But babies under 12 months still require very small pieces that squash easily between the tongue and roof of the mouth. Careful supervision remains critical.
Signs Baby is Ready for Stage 3 Foods
Between 10-12 months, babies reach a developmental stage where they can begin eating “real” foods. Signs of readiness for Stage 3 foods include:
- Sitting upright with little/no support
- Picking up small items with thumb and finger (pincer grasp)
- Chewing well with lateral tongue movements
- Handling soft diced fruits/veggies without gagging
- Showing interest in self-feeding and family meals
When babies reach this level of oral motor control, they are ready for diced fruits, vegetables, and finger foods under supervision. But some hazards remain off limits until 12 months like hard candies, nuts, popcorn and grapes.
Planning a Balanced Diet
For balanced nutrition:
- Aim for variety across food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, dairy
- Vary textures: purees, soft cooked, mashed, diced
- Include iron-rich foods like cereals, meats, dairy
- Don’t force food if baby shows disinterest
- Respect hunger/fullness cues
- Focus on exploration, sensory play, motor skills
- Don’t stress over messes
- Set consistent meal/snack times
- Offer water frequently to avoid dehydration
Consult your pediatrician if you have concerns about nutrition, development or introducing new foods. Partnering with your baby’s doctor can ensure a smooth transition to solid foods.
Keeping babies safe with new foods involves managing risks, understanding milestones, introducing variety, and responding appropriately. While fruits provide great nutrition, some pose choking hazards or allergies in babies under 12 months. With caution, supervision, age-appropriate preparation and careful progression, parents can help babies explore fruits safely as they reach exciting milestones on the journey toward family meals.