Besides the more obvious nutritional benefits (they’re packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, and potassium), blueberries have strong seasonal benefits as well. The domestic blueberry season is from April to September, so parents have a great opportunity to serve this fresh fruit to their child six months out of the year (and then frozen or dried after that)! It’s no wonder I love introducing blueberries to both babies and toddlers. Here are my tips for safely introducing blueberries to your little one.
Choice + Preparation
When picking out blueberries for children you want to look for a darker color because they are generally sweeter in taste. In addition, the darker the color, the higher the antioxidant potential! So look for dark, firm, plump berries and avoid soft, withered, or bruised ones. I recommend keeping blueberries in a single layer on a paper towel in the refrigerator until you plan on serving them. I do this because fresh blueberries can be expensive and they can also go bad fast, so eat this yummy fruit within 5 days of buying. Wash in slow running cold water with a vegetable wash or vinegar, drain and serve.
Introduction for Babies
I recommend waiting until six months of age to start solids, so your baby will have the necessary sensory and motor skills to try my three ways to introduce blueberries:
- Puree: If you want to make your own baby food, try blending fresh or frozen blueberries with breast milk, formula, stock, or water until you reach a safe consistency for your baby. Be sure to offer this mixture using my Three-tiered Texture Approach for Purees (see future post about thin, thick, and lumpy purees).
- Squished: I like to squish blueberries onto the Tiny Spoon (a baby-led spoon that I designed for ezpz) so that babies can learn to eat puree textures as well as whole foods using a spoon. You can also squish blueberries directly onto their feeding surface (e.g. bowl, plate, or table).
- Finger Foods: If you are offering blueberries as finger food, cut the blueberries into safe pieces and only give a few chopped pieces at a time to avoid overstuffing and choking. Expert Tip: I usually quarter the large blueberries and cut the small ones in half.
Introduction for Toddlers
When it comes to picky eater toddlers, we often have to help them overcome sensory issues. One strategy I use is changing the temperature of the food! Here are a few ideas to help your finicky toddler learn to love blueberries:
- Frozen: For some kiddos, the texture of frozen blueberries is more appetizing because of the drastic sensory change. This also helps if they are having pain associated with teething! Frozen blueberries are beneficial for families who want berries year-round. They cost less, come in large bags for convenience, and are perfect for making a quick smoothie too!
- Cool: Try offering fresh blueberries that have been kept in the refrigerator. The cold temperature might encourage your little one to try it!
- Room Temperature: Dried blueberries have a different taste/texture than moist ones and are perfect in cereals, trail mix, pancakes, muffins, and yogurt bark.
- Warm: My favorite blueberry treat is heated blueberries with a sprinkle of sugar and heavy whipping cream. You can use fresh or frozen and I just pop them in the microwave for a quick turnaround… Yum!
Sensory Exposure + Craft Activity
If you have a baby under the age of 6 months, that doesn’t mean you can’t start introducing them to the beautiful colors and shapes of blueberries. Try introducing my Blueberry Sensory Bottle as a fun way to expose your baby to this fruit! This also works great if you have a picky eater that won’t even get close to a blueberry – it’s a perfect way to safely expose your tot to this new food.
What You Need
- Blueberries (a variety of shapes if possible)
- Recycled bottle
- Fill up your recycled bottle with water
- Add 20-30 fresh blueberries (depending on the size of your bottle)
- Close the bottle and tighten it with all your might 🙂
- Let them play!
Blueberry Meal Ideas
Blueberries are a perfectly healthy, on-the-go snack since there is no peeling or pitting required! They can also become a main ingredient for mealtimes, too. Here are some great ways to introduce this beneficial berry to your children, even for the pickiest fruit eater:
- Breakfast: Blueberries are perfect in fruit salads, oatmeal, crepes, muffins, cold cereal, jams, pancakes, waffles, and smoothies. Expert Tip: Pour leftover smoothie into popsicle molds and freeze them for a cold snack! Your kids will LOVE it!
- Lunch & Dinner: Blueberries are great in green salads, over chicken, and mashed with butter over salmon. (I know, but trust me on this!)
- Desserts: Add blueberries to pies, cakes, sorbets, ice cream, and yogurt popsicles. I like to offer fruit skewers as a fun and healthy treat!
- Drinks & Dressing: Use blueberries to make homemade juice and infused water. You can also make a sweet blueberry sauce or dressing to put over pancakes, ice cream, or salads!
We always have to be creative and inventive in order to improve the success of our kiddos foods. I’ve shared a few ideas here, but how do you expose your baby or toddler to blueberries? Share your best tips in the comments and check out some of my other sensory activities on my Pinterest Page. #MsDawnSLP
xo Ms. Dawn
P.S Want more of my recipes and picky eating tips? Check out the book I co-authored called: Making Mealtime ezpz.