Dried and freeze-dried fruit seems like the perfect snack for your baby, mainly because it is convenient to bring on the go. However, there are some safety considerations.
Overall, it is best to avoid giving your baby uncooked dried fruit until they are at least 12 months old. This is because they can better eat the chewy and often sticky texture of most dried fruits at this age.
In this article, we will cover the most common dried fruits and nutritional and safety considerations for each for your baby. Read on!
Can Babies Eat Dried Fruit?
Unfortunately, dried fruit that has not been cooked is considered a choking hazard for younger babies (source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]). Therefore, wait until your baby is at least one year old to serve uncooked dried fruit.
However, if you would like to serve dried fruit to your younger baby, such as a baby who is at least six months old, you can puree it with a bit of breast milk or infant formula (source: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia).
A baby who is six months of age can safely consume a thin and watery consistency puree, while a slightly older baby can have thicker purees. However, any puree should be smooth and free of any seeds or pits.
Additionally, consider cooking the dried fruit until it is very soft and chopping it into small bite-sized pieces for a baby at least ten months old. Again, make sure all pits and seeds are removed, as they can pose a choking hazard for babies as well.
Now, let’s briefly discuss each of the following dried fruits and how to provide them to your baby safely.
- Dried cranberries are often high in added sugar because they are very tart otherwise. Therefore, stick with unsweetened dried fruit varieties for your baby.
- Dried mango is very tough to chew. So, only give this dried fruit to your baby if it is pureed or cooked to soften it.
- Raisins are small, yet they still pose a choking risk (source: CDC). Make sure they are chopped up and softened before serving.
- Prunes or dried plums may have pieces of pits or an entire pit inside (even when you buy pitted plums). Therefore, always double-check that the fruit does not contain a pit.
- Dried apples can be quite chewy and should be given only to older babies unless cooked or pureed.
- Dried apricots are soft and slightly chewy. Slice into smaller pieces before giving to an older baby.
- Dried figs also tend to be chewy and potentially difficult for your baby to chew. Puree and strain if you are serving to a younger baby or cut into small pieces for an older baby.
- Dates (even pitted dates) can also contain bits of pits or seeds. Make sure you puree and strain dates before serving to your baby.
Additionally, when deciding on a wide variety of dried fruit at the grocery store, look for unsweetened varieties with no added sugar content. Luckily, added sugar is listed separately on the Nutrition Facts label.
This distinction makes it easier to identify added sugar instead of the natural sugar that is naturally present in the fruit. Excessive amounts of sugar can cause dental cavities and other health issues when consumed in excess (source: National Health Service [NHS]).
When it comes to allergen risk, any food could be allergy potential. However, fruit is not one of the most common allergens. To effectively monitor for food allergies, introduce a new variety of foods at least three days apart and watch for symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, hives, and other unusual reactions (source: Johns Hopkins Medicine).
Can Babies Eat Freeze-Dried Fruit?
Freeze-dried fruit, such as strawberries found in cereal, freeze-dried fruit in a snack mix, and more, is safe for your baby as long as they are reconstituted with a liquid. However, freeze-dried fruit is often crumbly, powdery, and hard.
Therefore, it may be difficult for your baby to chew and may increase the risk of choking. So, ensure to soak the dried fruit in water, breast milk, or infant formula before giving them to your baby.
Even reconstituted, ensure the fruit is soft, bite-sized, and free of seeds or pits. Avoid those sweetened with added sugar.
In general, fresh fruit is always the safer baby food option for your baby because it is often much softer and easier to prepare. However, dried fruit is more shelf-stable and easier for when you are on the go.
Therefore, I hope you found the tips mentioned in this article helpful in safely giving your baby dried fruit.