Whether you're lucky enough to be able to find the fresh variety - or even if you can only find them canned or dried - apricots are an excellent food for babies.
On this page we'll show you WHY they can be such a valuable addition to your little one's diet and share with you some of our favourite recipes.
Apricots have a beautiful orange colour, telling you straight away that they are an excellent source of beta-carotene, which your baby’s body converts to vitamin A.
The high levels of antioxidants in apricots help protect the body against various cancers and heart disease – and their high fibre content makes them very effective against constipation.
Note: The laxative effect of apricots – particularly dried apricots – can be quite powerful.
If you give your baby apricots to relieve constipation, offer a little at first and gradually increase the amount until it does the trick.
Giving your baby too many apricots or apricot-based foods all in one go can trigger a nasty bout of diarrhea.
You can offer apricots to your baby – with your doctor’s consent – from 6 months of age.
If you choose to introduce solids before 6 months, then we’d recommend offering other fruits first and waiting until around the 6 month mark to introduce apricots.
This is mainly because of their laxative effect (see above), which does not make them an ideal first food for babies with an immature digestive system.
Whilst not terribly common, some individuals do react to apricots.
There are two types of apricot allergy. One (with less severe symptoms) is associated with birch pollen allergy. People with this type of allergy can often eat cooked apricots, but not fresh.
The second type of allergy (with more severe symptoms) is associated with peach allergy. People with this type of allergy are usually unable to eat apricots in any form.
If your baby has already been diagnosed with an allergy to peaches or nectarines, then it’s more likely he’ll be allergic to apricots too. You should, therefore, discuss the introduction of apricots with your child’s doctor.
If you can get them, truly fresh apricots are the best choice for baby – unfortunately, good ones are not always easy to find!
The problem is that apricots taste far better when they are ripened on the tree, but they are then very vulnerable to damage and don’t last long. So they are often picked too early in order to be safely transported to market – resulting in fruit that doesn’t taste as good as it should.
If you can find apricots labelled as ‘tree-ripened’ – or locally grown apricots – then these will be the best tasting!
Fresh apricots should have a rich, orange colour – a pink blush on one side is completely normal, but apricots that are pale yellow in colour, or have any green patches, are best avoided.
The skin should feel velvety and the flesh should be quite plump and firm, with a gentle fragrance.
The taste is usually quite sweet, although some apricots can be a little on the tart side (so it’s a good idea to check before giving them to your baby, or you just might see what we call the ‘sour face!).
If you can only find unripe fresh apricots, then you can ripen them yourself at home at room temperature (NOT in the fridge).
To encourage them to ripen more quickly, place them in a paper bag with a banana. Once the apricots are ripe, place them in the fridge immediately to stop them ripening any further.
Canned apricots often taste better than fresh ones, simply because the fruit is allowed to ripen on the tree before it goes into the can!
Look for apricots canned in unsweetened fruit juice… apricots canned in syrup are not ideal, as they introduce unnecessary sugars into your baby’s diet.
Dried apricots are, perhaps, the easiest variety of the fruit to find!
Unfortunately, though, they are not quite as nutritious as fresh apricots and are their sugars are very concentrated. They also tend to be very sticky and stick to baby’s teeth, so we don’t recommend offering them to your baby to eat ‘as they are’ (as a finger food, for example) on a regular basis.
That being said, if you’re in an area where fresh or canned apricots are unavailable, then using them chopped or pureed in your baby food recipes does add some nutrients and a great flavour (we do so ourselves!).
Because of the stickiness we mentioned, they can be a pain to chop, so oil the blade of your knife before you start and you’ll find them much easier to work with.
This is because non organic apricots are often treated with sulfur dioxide to preserve their bright colour. Sulfites can cause reactions in sensitive individuals – particularly in babies with asthma. Organic apricots – because they HAVEN’T been treated with sulfites – will look darker in colour.
Apricot skin is entirely edible and you can leave it on the fruit if you choose – however, there are certain situations where it may be preferable to peel apricots and other produce for your baby.
Please see our page – Should I peel Fruits and Vegetables For My Baby? – for more information.
If you DO choose to peel apricots for your baby, then the easiest way to do so is to plunge them briefly into boiling water, then into iced water. This really helps loosen the skins.
Apricots are delicious just as they are and do not need to be cooked for babies 6 months and older. However, you may choose to cook apricots for younger babies, to increase their digestibility or alter their texture.
Please see our page – Fruits and Vegetables for Baby… Do They HAVE To Be Cooked – for advice about whether or not it is always necessary to cook produce for your baby.
If you choose to cook apricots for your baby, then the easiest method is to steam them or simmer them in a very little water for a few minutes.
Simply run a sharp knife all the way around the natural ‘dimple’ of the fruit. Then, just twist the two halves in opposite directions, separate them and remove the stone.
To prevent this, place cut apricots in water to which you have added a little lemon juice if you are not planning on serving them right away.
Simmer for several minutes or soak them in warm water or apple juice (soak for at least half an hour).
EITHER place fresh apricot pieces (steamed or raw) in a blender and process until smooth
puree canned apricots in a food processor
puree dried apricots in a food processor after using one of the techniques mentioned above to soften them.
Apricots are drupes, closely related to nectarines and peaches. In addition to our suggestions below, you can substitute apricots for peaches or nectarines in any recipe calling for them.