Here on our Cherry Baby Food Recipes page we have a range of totally delicious ideas for preparing these healthy fruits for your little one.
We’ll also help you determine WHEN to offer cherries to your baby and just WHY they’re so good for him!
Don’t you just love it when something tastes absolutely delicious and it just happens to be good for you too?
Cherries are a prime example of this – they’re sweet, luscious and juicy and simply brimming with important nutrients for your baby, including:
Cherries come in two main varieties – sweet (the kind that we tend to buy fresh and eat raw) and tart (the kind that’s usually used in pie fillings or sold dried).
A report commissioned by the Cherry Marketing Institute tells that cherries have been found to be as rich a source of antioxidants as blueberries – and whilst the dried, tart variety provide the most, fresh, sweet cherries are a wonderful source too!
Antioxidants provide a whole range of benefits to the body, including protection against cancer and a powerful boost to the immune system.
The melatonin in cherries, according to www.immunehealthscience.com, promotes brain health and also helps regulate our body’s internal clock. This means it helps determine just when we wake up and when we fall asleep.
If a certain little someone’s body clock seems to be a tad off kilter, it certainly wouldn’t do any harm to see if a delicious bowl of two of healthy cherry puree would help things settle down!
Cherries are drupes, related to apricots, peaches and plums. Like their relatives, cherries have something of a laxative effect on the body.
If your baby is constipated, try offering cherry puree, either alone or as part of a recipe (below) to help get things moving.
Conversely, be careful about giving your baby too many cherries at first, as they may trigger a bout of diarrhea.
The nutrients in cherries may also help reduce inflammation AND help reduce cholesterol – important considerations in later life!
What a lot of wonderful reasons to introduce cherries to baby – and to enjoy them right along with him!
With your doctor’s consent, you can introduce cherries to your little one from 6 months of age. Given their mildly laxative properties, however, you might want to delay their introduction until a little later in baby’s first year, particularly if he’s prone to upset tummies and diarrhea.
Whilst not a common allergy, it is possible for your baby to be allergic to cherries, and symptoms can sometimes be severe.
There are two types of cherry allergy. One – the least severe and usually resulting in symptoms in and around the mouth (Oral Allergy Syndrome) is related to pollen allergy. The allergen itself is destroyed by cooking, so people with this type of cherry allergy can usually eat cooked cherries without problems.
For that reason, it’s a good idea to initially offer your baby cooked cherries rather than raw.
The second type of allergy, which is related to peach allergy, can provoke more serious symptoms, including abdominal pain, urticaria (hives), Oral Allergy Syndrome and vomiting. These reactions can sometimes be life threatening. The allergen responsible can survive cooking, so people with this type of allergy can’t eat cherries at all.
Remember to speak to your doctor before introducing cherries – particularly if there is a family history of food allergy – and to observe to four day rule when you first include them in baby’s diet.
The bad news? Fresh cherries are only available for a limited amount of time each year.
The good news? They freeze really well, so when they ARE in season it’s worth stocking up and filling that freezer!
The most popular varieties of sweet cherries are Bing and Lambert. Bing cherries are almost black in colour, whereas Lambert are dark red. As noted above, look for the darkest cherries for the variety you are buying, as they’ll contain the most anthocyanins.
The cherries you buy should be plump and shiny, not shrivelled and dull. The place from which you buy them should have kept them cool – if they seem warm, it’s possible their taste and texture may have been adversely affected.
Look for cherries with their stems still attached and make sure the stems are nice and green – a great sign of freshness.
Keep your cherries in the fridge (don’t wash them before storing – instead, wash before serving). They will last for up to a week, but check them often – just one bad cherry can quickly turn the whole bagful bad very quickly.
Pit them (more on this below), then spread them on a tray in a single layer and place them in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer to a zip top bag. You can keep frozen cherries for up to 12 months, although their nutritional quality does begin to decline over time. That being said, the quality is still high compared to many other foods, or to cherries that have been imported or held in cold storage, which will also have suffered nutrient loss.
Cherries may be served cooked or raw (note our allergy information above), served as a finger food, pureed, or included as an ingredient in another recipe.
Cooking a cherry is as simple as pitting it, then simmering it in a little water until tender.
Pitting cherries can be time consuming and laborious. Hands down the BEST tool for the job is the Cherry Chomper (from Amazon). It’s quick, easy and rather fun – our older kids are quite happy to pit cherries if they can use this tool!
If you want to serve uncooked cherries as a finger food, consider cutting them into quarters to reduce the choking hazard. Check the skins – if they’re really thick, your little one might have difficulty in managing them.
A good option in that case is to offer cherries in a Fresh Food Feeder (from Amazon) – they’re great frozen and served that way, too, especially if baby is teething.