Apples For Baby-Led Weaning

Apple is a popular first foods for babies. However, not all forms of apples are right for your little one. In fact, raw apple can be a choking hazard. This article covers how to prepare apples for baby-led weaning.

Apples have long been a popular first food for babies. Pureed apples are commonly added to baby food to improve acceptance and palatability. However, not all forms of apple are safe for baby-led weaning. Raw apple, hard cooked apple pieces, and dried apple are choking hazards and should be avoided until later in childhood.

Woman grating an apple on a marble counter, with 4 whole apples in the background.

Nutrients found in apples

At first, babies won’t get much nutrition from food. Learning to eat takes time and exploration. However, as time goes on and they wean from breastmilk/ formula, food will make-up a growing proportion of their nutrient intake.

While apples don’t offer the same breadth of nutrients as berries and leafy greens, that doesn’t mean they’re off the menu for babies. Exposing your child to a wide variety of foods, textures, colors, and shapes is important during the early days of eating, and apples are both versatile and nutritious.

Apples offer several micronutrients such as vitamin C, fiber and quercetin. In addition, apples are a rich source of carbohydrate – an important source of energy for early growth and development.

  • Vitamin C: Involved in immune function, collagen synthesis and fighting free radicals.
  • Fiber: Promotes laxation and supports the gut microbiome – an important immune barrier.
  • Quercetin: A polyphenolic compound with antioxidant, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. Preliminary evidence indicates that quercetin may help protect the brain in kids [1].
Three apples in a mesh bag on a blue background

10 ways to serve apples for baby-led weaning

Your baby can enjoy apples in a variety of forms. Here are 10 ideas for serving apples for baby-led weaning:

  1. Grate and mix with cooked oatmeal and cinnamon.
  2. Grate and mix into plain whole milk yogurt along with a dash of cinnamon.
  3. Cut into wedges and steam until soft.
  4. Cut into wedges and roast with coconut oil or butter, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  5. Cut into wedges, roast, and smear with 100% smooth almond or peanut butter.
  6. Smear apple sauce on soft-cooked, shredded pork.
  7. Mix grated apple and cinnamon into chia pudding made with plain whole milk yogurt/full-fat coconut milk/breast milk/ formula, and chia seeds.
  8. Combine grated apple/applesauce with an egg, whole grain flour (e.g. whole wheat, oat flour), and whole milk/soy milk to make pancake batter. Griddle over medium heat to cook pancakes.
  9. Steam and lightly mash with breastmilk/formula.
  10. Grate and mix with ricotta and cinnamon. Smear the apple-ricotta mixture on whole grain toast. (Alternatively, you can mix applesauce with ricotta).
5 ways to serve apples for baby-led weaning: Unsweetened applesauce, steamed apple slices, roasted apple slices, grated into oatmeal, thinly sliced raw apple.

When can I introduce raw apple to my baby?

Raw, grated apple can be stirred into yogurt or oatmeal, and introduced in the early days of starting solids. However, it’s a different story for other forms of raw apple. Large chunks of raw apple should be avoided until age 3 because they’re a well-known choking hazard but thin slices of raw apple can be offered around 9-12 months.

Can I offer apple juice to my baby?

Juice is generally not recommended for kids under one because:

  • It’s very sweet and this stage of life is critical for palate training;
  • It can crowd out other important sources of nutrition such as breastmilk/formula;
  • The infant gut is immature and it can lead to diarrhea and;
  • It can contribute to dental decay

Constipation is one of the only exceptions to the juice recommendation for babies. A small amount (2 tbsp) of 100% apple, pear, or prune can help pull fluid into the digestive tract and relieve clogged pipes. (Read more about constipation here).

Key takeaways

  • Apple is one of the most popular first foods for babies starting solids.
  • Apples provide nutrients such as carbohydrate, vitamin C, fiber, and quercetin, to support infant health and development.
  • Raw apple is a choking hazard for babies but steamed, mashed, roasted, and grated apple can be served to babies.

[1] Alvarez-Arellano, L., Salazar-García, M., & Corona, J. C. (2020). Neuroprotective Effects of Quercetin in Pediatric Neurological Diseases. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland)25(23), 5597.

Ready to start baby-led weaning? Get the complete guide to baby-led weaning including 60+ pages of handouts, printables, recipe ideas, and more HERE.

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