A Taste of Nature: Introducing Fruits to Your Baby’s Diet Day 3: A Taste of Nature: Introducing Fruits to Your Baby’s Diet

A Taste of Nature: Introducing Fruits to Your Baby’s Diet

Fruits are nature’s bounty! Vibrant and colorful, natural and fresh, fruits vary in taste, texture, and season. India is a country where different fruits grow well in different regions and seasons. It’s wonderful to see most families enjoy fruit in its various forms; some even consume them in cooked form.

But is it time for your baby to join the fruit bandwagon, too? Yes!

Although your baby’s dietary requirement for fruits and veggies is lesser than adults at this age (6-7 months), their requirements will increase as they grow and develop. Moreover, this is the best time to help them set up the foundations of healthy eating (enjoying veggies and fruits). Babies will enjoy exploring the variety of tastes, flavors, colors, and textures of fruits and veggies, making them less fussy eaters when they’re older.

Why Introduce Fruits in Your Baby’s Diet

Did you know, you can add fruits to your baby’s food journey once she’s 6 months old? Introducing fruits early on exposes babies to different flavors and textures, contributing to the development of their taste preferences. This exposure can help establish healthy eating habits and a diverse diet as they grow older.

1) Fruits are a powerhouse of nutrients

      • Fruits contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that strengthen the baby's immune system, protecting them against common illnesses and infections.
      • They are also packed with essential vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and fiber that support the baby's growth and development.

However, it’s a good idea to serve a variety of fruits over a period of time, and not restrict your baby to just one fruit. Variety is key! Every fruit has its own specific nutrient profile. For example, while orange and yellow fruits are a good source of Vitamin A, other fruits may satisfy your baby’s nutritional requirement of minerals.

Good To Know:

When you offer a variety of fruits and vegetables to your baby, you’re also helping better nutrient absorption into their growing bodies!

2) Fruits promote oral motor development and sensory skills

Because fruits come in various textures, from soft and pureed (aamras or mango pulp) to firm and chewable, introducing different fruit textures will encourage your baby to explore and develop their sensory skills!

Not only that, activities like biting, chewing, and swallowing (of fruits) will help your baby’s oral motor skills, including jaw strength and coordination.

Fact or Myth?

Myth 1: Fruits and veggies should be the first baby foods to start with.

Not necessarily true. Yes, fruits and veggies are great foods to introduce in your baby’s solid food journey, but they should not be the only foods your baby consumes. Your baby requires a balanced meal. Only feeding carrot or apple purees will not deliver the necessary fat or iron requirements, as discussed in previous chapters.

Myth 2: If the baby is sick, we should avoid fruits completely.

Not true. Assuming that giving fruits makes the baby sicker is a common misconception. In fact, fruits have protective nutrients in them, which will help boost your baby’s immunity and also prevent future infections. Some fruits also help in speedy recovery, especially Vitamin C-rich fruits. Just ensure that all fruits and vegetables are washed well and serve fruits at room temperature (not refrigerated).

Fruits That Your Baby Can Safely Enjoy

      • Apple
      • Banana
      • Dragon Fruit
      • Guava
      • Pear
      • Kiwi
      • Oranges
      • Mango
      • Muskmelon
      • Watermelon
      • Papaya
      • Peaches
      • Berries
      • Sweet Lime
      • Avocado
      • Stone Apple (Bael)
      • Cherry
      • Plums
      • Custard Apple
      • Jackfruit
      • Grapes
      • Pineapple
      • Chikoo
      • Star Fruit
      • Prunes
      • Raisins
      • Apricot
      • Figs

Preparing Fruits for Your Little Ones

When it comes to introducing fruits to your baby's diet, there are many ways you can make it both enjoyable and nutritious! But first, let’s look at two important questions we often get from parents.

Q. What’s the thumb rule when I’m introducing fruits to my 6-month old baby?

A. First and foremost, wash every fruit thoroughly with running water to remove any pesticide residues. Serve fruits that are soft and ripe, thus making them easier to mash and eat. E.g., banana, papaya, and chikoo.

Q. What about fruits like apples and pears, which have a harder texture?

A. These fruits should be first softened up, because serving them as they can pose a choking hazard. Making a puree is the easiest way to go for most parents, but did you know there’s another interesting way to make apples and pears tastier? First, wash, peel, and slice an apple. Add the apple pieces to a pan of water along with a pinch of cinnamon. Now let the apple pieces cook in this water till they’re stewed nicely. When you’re able to squish the apple pieces between your fingers, you know they’re soft enough to feed your baby!

To make things easier, our expert recommends these 6 methods of serving fruits to babies:

      1. Handheld pieces or slices: Give your baby hand-holdable slices of fruits such as banana, papaya, ripe mango, watermelon, muskmelon, chikoo, and avocado. For harder fruits like apples or pears, they can be steamed or stewed and then served to the baby. Handheld fruit servings are great for promoting self-feeding skills in your baby!
      2. Porridges: Mash fruits and add them to porridges. E.g., pear ragi porridge or apple ragi porridge. This recipe allows your baby to experience different flavors and textures while enjoying a wholesome meal.
      1. Fruit popsicle or fruit breast milk kulfi: When your baby’s teething, a refreshing option is to puree fruits with curd or breast milk and use the mixture to make fruit popsicles or kulfi sticks. Simply fill the molds with the pureed fruit and freeze them. These frozen treats provide relief to your baby's gums while introducing them to the delightful taste of fruits.
      1. Homemade jam or puree: If you prefer a spreadable option, you can prepare homemade fruit jam or puree to be enjoyed with chapati or bread toast. E.g., strawberry chia seed jam or try mango jam (Avoid adding sugar, jaggery, or honey to the fruit jam or puree, as these sweeteners are not recommended for babies).
      1. Chunks: As your baby grows older, you can introduce fruits as chunks added to yogurt or curd. E.g., banana chunks in yogurt or mango pieces in curd. Alternatively, choose fruits like muskmelon that can be easily grabbed and eaten with their hands. This method encourages exploration and helps develop fine motor skills.
    1. Whole fruit: Once your baby reaches 9 to 11 months, they can start experimenting with whole fruits. This allows them to experience the natural textures, flavors, and colors of various fruits. Remember to choose fruits that are age-appropriate and cut them into manageable pieces to avoid any choking hazards.
Tip:

Some fruits that have seeds or pits can be a choking hazard (e.g., watermelon, orange, chikoo, cherry; some fruits also have hidden seeds). Make sure you de-seed them first before feeding your baby.

Also, Say No to Fruit Juices!

It’s best to offer whole fruits to your baby in the methods mentioned below in detail. We do not recommend giving fruit juices at this age.

Why? Because all the nutritious goodness of the fruit gets diluted when it’s blended or juiced! So, the health benefits are lost when we make juices. Additionally, the fiber nutrient is also lost when we make or strain fruit juices. Fruits are naturally good sources of fiber needed in your baby’s diet.

Concentrated fruit juices are also best avoided at this age, as research shows that canned or packaged fruit juices can cause dental caries in little ones.

FRUITS: Age-Wise Recipes & Tips
Select Baby Age
6 to 8 months

1) Offer easily grabbable handheld fruit pieces, such as soft, ripe bananas, mangoes, dragon fruit, watermelon, papaya, star fruit. You can coat them in flax seeds powder / desiccated coconut to make them easy to hold.

2) Cook and stew fruits, slicing them into long pieces without skin. For example, slices of apples and pears

3) Mash the fruit and mix it with yogurt or curd, allowing the baby to scoop and eat it with their hands or a preloaded spoon. Fruits like muskmelon or avocado work well for this method.

4) Add mashed or pureed fruits to porridges for your baby to enjoy. Suitable options include guava, strawberries, figs, apricots.

5) Chop and mash cherries, grapes, and plums (after removing the pits), then add them to porridge, yogurt, or kheer/halwa (pudding). This allows the baby to scoop the mixture with their hands or a preloaded spoon.

9 to 11 month

1) Cut fruit into long strips or slices, approximately one inch thick, with or without the skin. This method works well with fruits like chikoo, soft pears, and guavas. Leaving the skin on allows the baby to become familiar with it and learn how to handle the fruit in their mouth. While babies may sometimes spit out the skin, they will often learn to chew on it, especially with the emergence of new molars. Chewing and spitting out the skin aids in the development of oral motor skills.

2) To add more variety of flavors to your baby's food, sprinkle a pinch of ginger powder or cinnamon powder.

3) Introduce small fruits like grapes, berries, cherries, and plums in a squished or quartered form to encourage the development of your baby's pincer grip (picking up small pieces of food with their thumb and forefinger). For example, you can quarter a strawberry and offer it to your baby as is, or provide squished grapes without the seeds.

4) Alternatively, flatten berries into discs by gently pressing them. You can also mince plums, cherries, or berries to create scoopable portions or preload them onto a spoon for your baby to enjoy.

12 to 24 months

1) Go for large, oblong grapes, keeping the skin intact. Cutting the grapes in half lengthwise is a suitable choice.

2) As your baby approaches 18 months, you can introduce bite-sized portions of berries, cherries, grapes, plums, and other fruits with the seeds removed. This helps them develop the skills necessary for biting, tearing, chewing, and swallowing fruits

3) Encourage the development of your baby's pincer grip by offering bite-sized pieces of fruit.

4) Around the age of 2, most babies will be ready for sections of quartered long slices of apples, pears, and guavas with the skin still on, as well as small, bite-sized pieces of plums, berries, cherries, orange slices, watermelon slices, muskmelon slices, and so on.

Next week, we explore some non-vegetarian sources of key nutrients: eggs, meat, chicken, and fish. Stay tuned for actionable steps on preparing and offering these foods in a safe way to your little one.

Learn the right ways to nourish from experts