The Nutritional Appeal
"Apples have natural fruit sugars and apples and apple juice are also two of the best sources of the mineral boron, which may promote bone health," says Peggy O'Shea, a Boston-based registered dietitian and a president of the Massachusetts Dietetic Association. Apples are also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, fiber, and potassium.
While a mashed banana is often looked upon as the best first fruit, apples also can be a fine choice as a first, or even a second, or third, fruit, says O'Shea. "Soft applesauce is a good choice, and apples can even be boiled and mashed," she says. "You can even mix some applesauce in with Baby's cereal." She does caution that some babies may find apples (especially apple juice) to be a bit "gassy," so be careful to monitor your baby's comfort after eating.
For many babies, new foods may need to be introduced several times before being accepted. But don't give up! The sweet but tart taste of apple is sure to grow on them and become a favorite. And keep in mind that the process of introducing solid food intake is a gradual process and should be carefully monitored to make certain each new food is tolerated, says O'Shea.
According to O'Shea, babies are sometimes less likely to try a new food if they are very hungry, so try breastfeeding or giving your baby a bottle before introducing a new food. "Also, try mixing applesauce with cereal that baby is familiar with," she says. "This may encourage them to accept the new flavor."
Preparing Apples for Baby
Apples should be peeled, cooked, pureed, and strained before giving them to a baby. For younger babies, smooth applesauce is the best choice. "As children get older, they can tolerate applesauce that is less fine, or try cooked apples that have been mashed or shredded," says O'Shea. "Once babies are 18 to 24 months, they can begin eating pieces of soft and mealy apples."
O'Shea cautions parents to keep in mind that apples can be a choking hazard. "Toddlers and older children should be carefully monitored and supervised when eating apples, and make certain that children are seated when eating and not lying down or running around," she says. And while many of the nutrients in apples are in the peel, it should never be given to small babies. "Apples should always be peeled and thinly sliced before giving them to babies and children of any age," adds O'Shea.
Here are some easy recipes to try with your baby!