Can babies have cranberry sauce? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no added sugars for children under 2, so the traditional sauce is not recommended. Kids love to be a part of holiday meals and I think it’s important to include them when you can. Here’s an easy recipe that is perfect for babies. It’s sweetened with fruit, so it will not be as sweet as you may be used to, but babies do not need their foods to be as sweet. This has been a hit at our house every Thanksgiving since I started making it. It requires only 3 ingredients and you have the option of using all frozen or packaged foods, making it extremely convenient. Alternatively, you can opt for fresh options as well. If it’s easier, you can always offer a homemade jam instead. It looks similar to the cranberry sauce, so your baby may not even notice.
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Cranberries are in season now! If you’re like me, the only time you’ve seen cranberries served is on Thanksgiving (and probably from a can). Cranberries have a rich color and are full of vitamin (think antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E). Their texture isn’t great for little ones, unless you cook them first. Once you cook them, they will burst making them appropriate for babies. You can serve a whole cooked cranberry to an older child. Cranberries are very tart, so if you serve them unsweetened, be ready for some silly faces. Remember that those faces don’t necessarily indicate whether or not your child likes the food.
Sweetening with Fruit
This is my all time favorite way to sweeten foods for babies. You get a little bit of additional sweetness with no added sugar. We really want to prevent babies from getting used to the hyper-sweet flavors of sugar, maple syrup, artificial sweeteners, etc. (Click here for more information on introducing solids to babies). This particular recipe uses applesauce (or fresh apples if you prefer) and pineapple to add sweetness. Cooking the fruit helps to bring out some additional sweetness. It is still pretty tart, but babies tend to love flavor! There’s no need to serve bland foods to babies!
Fruit Sweetened Cranberry Sauce
- 4 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
- 2 cups pineapple chunks (fresh or frozen)
- 1 cup applesauce (can substitute fresh diced apple)
- Add cranberries and pineapple chunks to large pot. Cook about 20 minutes until the cranberries are softened.
- Add in the applesauce. Cook an additional 15 minutes.
- Use an immersion blender to break up any chunks to make it smoother.
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.