Fertility

How Do I Give My Baby Blueberries In Baby Led Weaning?

Updated on 10 May 2022 • 7 minute read

 

Overview 

Did you know that blueberries have a positive impact on learning and memory? Blueberries are thought to help enhance existing brain cell connections, improve cellular connections, stimulate the brain for better neuron production, and maintain existing neurons. (1)

Add this “brain-y” tidbit to the widely-known nutrition and health benefits of blueberries, and you have all the reason to start serving this yummy goodness to your little one.

Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins C and K, and minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium – which are all essential for your baby’s growth and development. (2)

So, we already know that blueberries are good, but how good?

In this article, you’ll learn why these little blue fruits are named superfoods, you’ll also learn ways to prepare and serve according to your baby’s age, understand food safety risks, and get blueberry recipes to try.

 

What’s BLW?

BLW pioneer Dr. Gill Rapley defines BLW (baby-led weaning) as a self-feeding approach where the child decides when, what, and how much they want to eat from the healthy food choices prepared for them. (3) 

 

Can You Give Blueberries To 6-Month-Old Babies?

Yes. The AAP (The American Academy of Pediatrics) states that at six months of age, most babies can be introduced to solid foods, especially when they are showing signs of readiness for solids. This should be as a complement to breast milk or infant formula, especially for the first year of life. (4)  

 

Are Blueberries OK For Weaning?

Yes. Blueberries are packed with essential nutrients your growing baby needs. It’s a superfood that’s super easy to serve for baby-led weaning and has a sweet taste your little one will likely enjoy.

 

Top Reasons To Serve Blueberries In BLW

They’re Nutritious

A cup of raw blueberries contains 84 calories per 148 g serving, consisting of the following vitamins and minerals: (2)

  • Vitamin C – Boosts immunity and aids in better iron absorption. (5)
  • Carbohydrates – The main energy source of the body. (6)
  • Vitamin K – Important in blood clotting for when your child gets wounds. (7)
  • Calcium – Builds and maintains strong bones. (8)
  • Magnesium – Regulates muscle and nerve functions. (9) 
  • Manganese – For strong bones, blood clotting, and a healthy immune system. (10)
  • Phosphorus – For energy and healthy cells. (11)
  • Potassium – For proper kidney and heart function. (12)

 

Loaded With Health Benefits For Heart & Gut Health

Blueberries are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Also, the phytochemicals in blueberries can help maintain a healthy gut, therefore contributing to your baby’s overall health. (13)

 

Yummy Remedy For Constipation

Foods high in dietary fiber like blueberries (1 cup contains 3.55 g of fiber) relieve constipation by helping regulate bowel movement. (14)

 

Helps Develop Fine Motor Skills

The small size of blueberries is perfect for babies transitioning from palmar grasp (grabbing things using all fingers) to pincer grasp (grabbing something using the thumb and index finger). Serving blueberries in BLW will help enhance your baby’s fine motor skills.

 

Food Safety With Blueberries

Are Blueberries A Common Choking Hazard?

Yes, blueberries are known as high choking risks because of their small round shape. To minimize the risk of choking, you can flatten blueberries or cut them in halves or quarters. (15)

As always, maintain a safe environment during mealtimes. It’s essential to know the dos and don’ts in BLW and to consult with your baby’s pediatrician before feeding them solid foods.

 

When Can Babies Eat Whole Blueberries?

Up until 12 months old, when babies have improved eating skills, they are still at risk of choking from the food they eat. When you’re confident with your child’s eating skills, you can (at your own risk) serve whole blueberries at 12 months or older. (15)

 

Are Blueberries An Allergen?

Blueberry allergy is rare. Known symptoms of a blueberry allergy can include: (16)

  • Wheezing
  • Nasal clog
  • Itchiness
  • Stomach pain
  • Swelling of the tongue, face, hands, or feet
  • Dizziness or weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Anaphylaxis

 

Tip: When serving blueberries for the first time, start by serving small amounts to easily observe possible allergic reactions. It’s also helpful to seek medical advice if any immediate family member has a known sensitivity to blueberries.

 

Is The Skin Of Blueberries Safe For Babies?

Blueberries can be incorporated into your baby’s first foods even without removing the skin. Use a food processor or blender to achieve that soft, baby-friendly texture when serving blueberries to your little one.

 

Can Babies Eat Too Many Blueberries?

Eating too many blueberries can lead to your baby not getting essential nutrients from other food groups and being high in fiber, it can also cause gas, bloating, and irregularities in your baby’s poop. Without pairing it with enough fluids, high fiber intake can lead to constipation. (17)

One way to go about this is by preparing baby food recipes that incorporate some fluids with blueberries like puree or smoothies. 

 

Food Safety Risk With Blueberries

Like other fresh produce, blueberries can be directly or indirectly contaminated with human or animal manure, contaminated water for irrigation, farm worker hygiene, and pesticides. (18)

Blueberries are included in the list of foods with the highest pesticide residues. (19)

For this reason, we strongly recommend only buying certified organic blueberries. 

 

4 Ways To Remove Pesticide Residues From Blueberries

  1. Soak in 100ml of water with half a tablespoon of salt for 20 minutes. 
  2. Soak in three liters of water with two tablespoons baking soda for 12-15 minutes, then rinse with water.
  3. The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station research found that rinsing with just cold water reduced 9 out of 12 pesticide residues. (20)
  4. Peel it.

 

Important: Soaking in a vinegar solution is not recommended for porous fruits like berries as it may affect the thin skin. (21)

When making homemade baby food with blueberries, choosing USDA Organic-labeled produce is the best way to reduce exposure to synthetic pesticides. (20)

 

How Do You Give A Baby Blueberries According To Age?

6 Months Old

Flattened or crushed – Pinch blueberries into flat discs to minimize choking risks and make it easier for your baby to grab. You can also serve flattened blueberries in a pre-loaded fork or serve blueberry puree in a pre-loaded spoon.

Feeding Tip: You can incorporate blueberries with easier-to-grab finger foods like toast or frittatas. Just make sure you have the all-clear from your baby’s pediatrician before offering multi-ingredient food and have introduced each ingredient separately before serving them together.

 

9 Months Old

Quartered – At around nine months old, when pincer grasp usually starts to develop, you can start cutting blueberries in quarters before serving.

 

10 Months Old

Halved – You can start serving blueberries cut in halves once your baby has mastered eating the quartered blueberries.

 

12+ Months Old

Whole  – You can try serving whole blueberries at this age or when you’re confident with your baby’s biting, chewing, swallowing, and spitting skills.

 

How Many Times A Day Should Babies Eat Solid Foods?

Start slowly by feeding your baby solid foods once a day, gradually increasing to two and then three. At nine months old, you can feed your baby solids as part of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This will help your baby naturally transition from milk to solids by around 12 months of age. (22)

 

Can Babies With No Teeth Eat Blueberries?

When prepared in a soft and smooth baby-friendly texture like mash, puree, or smoothie, even with their toothless gums, babies can enjoy the sweet taste and health benefits of blueberries

 

Do You Have To Steam Blueberries For Baby Food?

Preparing baby food with raw blueberries may be a better option since researchers from N.C. State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute found that cooking blueberries reduce their phytochemicals and antioxidant levels. (23)

 

When Can I Stop Cutting Blueberries?

You can stop cutting blueberries and start serving them whole when your child is 12 months old or when they have mastered their chewing and swallowing skills.

 

Fresh Vs. Frozen Blueberries

Fresh blueberries are a good source of antioxidants and micronutrients like vitamins C and K. However, fresh blueberries are also one of the foods with the highest pesticide residues. On the other hand, frozen blueberries have less than half the pesticide residues that the fresh ones have. (24)

Did you know that frozen blueberries have more vitamin C than fresh ones? A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry discovered significantly higher levels of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in frozen blueberries than in fresh ones. (25)

 

Culinary Combinations With Blueberries

Blueberries are sweet and pair well with breakfast favorites like oats and cereals, nuts like walnuts and almonds, and other sweet fruits like apple, peach, and pear. Wild blueberries are also great to match with meats.

 

How To Choose And Store Blueberries

Blueberries are available fresh, frozen, canned, and dried.

When choosing fresh blueberries, look for plump, firm, and dry blueberries with a dusty blue color.

Blueberries can last for 10-14 days in the fridge. (26)

 

4 Easy Blueberry Meal Ideas For Any Time Of Day

Breakfast:

Banana Blueberry Waffles

 

Lunch & Dinner:

Chicken, Blueberry, & Spinach Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground chicken meat 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked spinach
  • 1 cup blueberries, smashed
  • 1/2 cup of cooked chopped onion (optional) 
  • 1 egg 

Procedure

  1. In a bowl, mix the ground chicken with the egg and the rest of the spices.
  2. In a separate pan, sautee and thoroughly cook the spinach and blueberries in olive, coconut, or avocado oil.
  3. Add the cooked spinach and veggies and mix well into the meat, eggs, and spices.
  4. Use teaspoons to form mini meatballs that’ll fit into your baby’s little hands.
  5. Place the meatballs on top of wax paper on a baking tray.
  6. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes or until fully cooked through.
  7. Test by inserting a toothpick in the center–if it comes out clean, your meatballs are ready.

 

Dessert:

Blueberry Apple Pops 

Prepare homemade apple juice from one apple. Wash fresh or frozen blueberries. Pour in a blender or food processor, then blend well to desired consistency. Pour into popsicle molds. Freeze.

 

Drinks:

Blueberry Cream Smoothie

In a blender, throw in 2 ounces of breast milk or infant formula, a cup of frozen blueberries, half a  banana, ¼ cup of coconut yogurt, and cooked spinach (let cool before adding), then blend until smooth.

 

Other Helpful BLW Tools For Mealtime 

Quality High Chair

BLW Spoons

BLW Bib 

BLW Books 

 

Tips For Removing Blueberry Stains

Important:

  1. Treat stains as soon as possible. The longer the stain stays, the harder it’ll be to remove.
  2. Remove stains before laundering. Stains that have been washed and dried are almost impossible to remove.

 

From Washable Fabrics:

  1. Wash the stained area with cold water to remove as much blueberry juice as possible.
  2. Apply liquid detergent before soaking in cold water for 15-30 minutes. Rinse with cold water. Repeat if necessary.
  3. If visible spots remain, apply hydrogen peroxide (if it’s safe for fabric), let sit for 2-3 minutes, then rinse well. 

 

From Upholstery:

  1. Scrape off as much blueberry juice as possible.
  2. Sponge the stain with two cups of cool water and one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid solution using a clean cloth. Then blot until the liquid is absorbed.
  3. Blot the stain with white vinegar.

 

Tip: Get the upholstery only as wet as necessary to remove the stain.

 

 

 

References:

(1) https://fruitsandveggies.org/stories/atb-for-081110/

(2) https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Blueberries%2C_raw_nutritional_value.html

(3) http://rapleyweaning.com/assets/Defining_BLW_v2.pdf 

(4) https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/feeding-nutrition/Pages/Starting-Solid-Foods.aspx 

(5) https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-Consumer/

(6) https://www.reidhealth.org/blog/carbohydrates-101-the-benefits-of-carbohydrates#

(7) https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminK-Consumer/

(8) https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-Consumer/

(9) https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-Consumer/

(10) https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Manganese-Consumer/

(11) https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Phosphorus-Consumer/

(12) https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Potassium-Consumer/

(13) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31329250/

(14) https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/digestive-health/nutrition-tips-for-relieving-constipation

(15) https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/foods-and-drinks/choking-hazards.html

(16) https://allergy-symptoms.org/blueberry-allergy/

(17) https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/digestive-health/nutrition-tips-for-relieving-constipation

(18) https://www.canr.msu.edu/uploads/files/UPDATED_Food_Safety_Manual.pdf

(19) https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php

(20) https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2012/03/22/organic-101-what-usda-organic-label-means?page=1

(21) https://www.goodnet.org/articles/5-super-simple-ways-to-get-pesticides-off-your-produce

(22) https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/balancing-introducing-solids-with-milk-feeds

(23) https://plantsforhumanhealth.ncsu.edu/2013/08/12/researchers-study-benefits-of-blueberries/

(24) https://www.aipt.edu.au/articles/2018/05/are-frozen-blueberries-healthy

(25) https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf5058793

(26) https://fruitsandveggies.org/fruits-and-veggies/blueberries/

 

 

 

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