Apples are one of the top choking hazards for kids, but they are also one of the easiest fruits to find year round. So how can we modify them to make them appropriate for babies? There are a few options, but one of my fall favorites is to bake them. This recipe is designed for babies, but the whole family will love to snack on them.
There are over 7500 types of apples grown worldwide. They can range from very tart to very sweet, soft to more crisp. Colors range from yellow to green to red or some combination of the three. Some apples are better for cooking and some are better for snacking, but what you like will really depend on your own preference.
How to Serve Apples to Baby
Because apples can break off into large chunks, it’s recommended to wait until closer to age 4 to offer a whole apple. You can start with applesauce, which is just a pureed food that adults also eat. Look for no added sugar or make your own! For young babies who haven’t mastered their pincer grasp yet, you can cook apples to soften them and then serve them in larger pieces.
Once your baby is getting better at biting and chewing, you can begin to offer matchstick slices or paper thin slices of uncooked apple. Whenever you’re introducing a new texture, it’s important to model how you want your baby to handle the food and watch them closely.
When you feel they are ready, you can offer a whole apple. Often a whole apple can be easier for toddlers because they can only bite off a small piece at a time, versus a slice where they may get a large chunk (1). Watch to make sure that they don’t eat the seeds, as the seeds contain compounds that can be toxic.
Apples are a good source of fiber, having both soluble and insoluble fiber. The soluble fiber, pectin, is a prebiotic, meaning it can feed the bacteria in the gut. Apples also have vitamin C and some potassium. They also have antioxidants such as quercetin, catechin, and chlorogenic acid which are being studied to determine health benefits.
While apples do contain sugar, it is naturally occurring and ok to offer to babies. In fact, subbing in apples or applesauce into recipes can be a great way to lower the amount of sugar while maintaining some of the sweetness.
Look for apples without any bruises or soft spots. The color will depend on the variety: a Granny Smith apple should be green, whereas a Red Delicious should not. You can smell the apple as well, however depending on the variety, some have stronger aromas than others.
Tips for Storing
Ideally, store apples in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. They prefer cold, dark, humid places, but if you don’t have room in your fridge, that’s ok too. They can usually last on the counter, as long as it’s not too hot out. Apples release a gas that can ripen other fruits, so keep them away from other fruits, unless you want them to ripen more quickly (this is a great way to speed up ripening of avocados if they’re too hard!).
With over 7500, I am not going to list them all, but here are some of the more common apples and what they are best used for.
Best for Baking
- Pink Lady/Cripps Pink
- Golden Delicious
- Granny Smith
- Ida Reds
- Northern Spy
Best for Snacking
- Red Delicious
Best for Applesauce
- Ida Red
Best for Juicing
- Northern Spy
When in doubt, use the apples you have and see how it turns out!
- 2 whole apples
- 2 tbsp butter (melted)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- Core and slice apples.
- In a bowl, mix melted butter, vanilla, and cinnamon.
- Add apples and toss to coat.
- Air fry at 380° for about 10 minutes, shaking once. You may need to adjust the time depending on how thickly you slice the apples.
Krystyn Parks is a Registered Dietitian and Lactation Consultant who specializes in feeding children. She has a Master’s Degree in Nutritional Science from California State University Long Beach. She is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and has been registered with the Commission on Dietetic Registration since 2013.