Complementary foods: Fruits and vegetables

Complementary foods: Fruits and vegetables
Once your baby has been eating iron-rich foods for a few days, you can add fruits and vegetables to their diet.

When to introduce your baby to fruits and vegetables

You can offer your baby fruits and vegetables as soon as they’re eating iron-rich foods twice a day. It’s best to introduce fruits and vegetables early. Rich in vitamin C, they help the body absorb iron.

They’re also packed with other vitamins and minerals that contribute to your baby’s overall health. Fruits and vegetables are high in fibre, which helps your baby have regular bowel movements and promotes healthy gut bacteria (intestinal microbiota).

Once your baby is eating fruits and vegetables, offer them at every meal. For example, you can serve vegetables at lunch and dinner, and fruits for breakfast and dessert. If your baby isn’t hungry enough to eat these foods during meals, offer them as a snack.

How to add fruits and vegetables to your baby’s diet

Unless you choose to practise baby-led weaning, start by offering your baby fruits and vegetables as smooth purées. Then, gradually introduce lumps and textures to your baby’s food.

At around 6 months, when your baby is able to pick up finger food, you can let them explore pieces of soft fruits and well-cooked veggies—even if their diet still mainly consists of purées.

Offer your baby one new vegetable or fruit at a time without mixing it into another food so they can get used to the new flavour. This strategy will also help you identify any food allergies or sensitivities your baby may have.

Studies have shown that spacing out the introduction of new foods by two or three days has no impact on whether a child will develop a food allergy. By skipping this unnecessary waiting period, you’ll introduce your baby to new foods faster, which will help develop their flavour preferences.

Baby-led weaning

Some parents prefer to skip the purées altogether and offer their baby soft pieces of food they can eat with their hands—a practice called baby-led weaning. If you’d like to let your baby self-feed, you can offer them these finger foods:

  • Tender or well-cooked vegetables cut into strips, sticks, or florets (e.g., carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, asparagus).
  • Soft or very ripe fruits (e.g., bananas, avocados, peaches, cooked plums, cooked apples, cantaloupes, pears). When serving thick-skinned fruit like melons, bananas, or oranges, leave some of the rind or peel on to make it easier for your baby to grasp.

For more information, see our fact sheet on baby-led weaning (French only).

Baby feeders

Baby feeders, which have mesh or silicone pouches for baby food, are increasingly popular. Your baby sucks or chews on the pouch to get their food, which is generally soft or mashed. Baby feeders can be a handy way to introduce your baby to fruits and vegetables without having to make your own purées. However, this accessory isn’t essential.
As early as 6 months, you can offer your baby large pieces of food to help them develop their dexterity, coordination, and chewing skills. Whole pieces of fruit also contain more fibre.
Regardless of your feeding approach, it’s important to stay close to your baby during meals to prevent choking. A baby can choke even if they’re eating from a feeder.

What vegetables to feed your baby

All vegetables are good for your baby! Opt for different-coloured veggies every day to make sure your little one gets a variety of nutrients: carrots, squash, corn, sweet potatoes, asparagus, zucchini, green peas, cauliflower, parsnips, etc.

At first, your baby may prefer yellow and orange vegetables, which tend to be soft and slightly sweet. Don’t be surprised if they’re less enthusiastic about dark greens, like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, which can be bitter.

You should still offer these veggies to develop your baby’s flavour preferences. Smile encouragingly when you present a new vegetable, even if you’re skeptical that your child will like it. A negative attitude can influence how they react.

Frozen veggies are just as good as fresh. If you go with canned vegetables, be sure to pick those without added salt.

What fruits to feed your baby

Your baby can eat any fruit as long as it’s served safely to avoid choking. Don’t add sugar to fruit purées. Their natural sweetness is already appealing to children.

Frozen fruit cut into pieces can be served once thawed, or you can purée them. If you give your baby canned fruit, be sure to rinse the pieces well.

Should fruit be cooked?

Tender, ripe fruit like melons, pineapples, strawberries, raspberries, or peaches can be mashed with a fork or blended into a purée without being cooked. However, apples, unripe pears, and vegetables must be cooked to make a smooth purée.

How to prevent choking

  • Remove the white membrane from oranges, clementines, and other citrus fruits.
  • Cook and purée hard fruits like apples and plums, as well as unripe pears, peaches, and strawberries.
  • Purée very ripe, soft, uncooked fruits like pears, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, pineapples, and bananas. Peel them first if necessary.
  • Peel and grate uncooked fruits like apples, pears, peaches, and nectarines.
  • Cut grapes into quarters.

Fruit juices

Babies and children don’t need to drink juice. Drinking juice is not like eating fruit. Fruit juice contains the same amount of sugar as a soft drink—and despite being “natural,” these sugars aren’t healthier. Juice also has zero fibre and suppresses your child’s appetite, so they’re less likely to eat a nutritious meal. Furthermore, when consumed in large quantities, juice increases your child’s risk of cavities.

If you decide to give your child juice, wait until they’re at least 1 year old and choose pasteurized 100% pure fruit juice (no added sugar). Don’t give them more than 125 ml a day.

Baby food pouches: Good in moderation

Although food pouches are a convenient alternative to jarred baby food, they have several disadvantages. They often contain a blend of ingredients, which means your baby won’t get to experience each food’s unique flavour. Vegetable food pouches also tend to have more fruits than veggies, so they may give your baby a taste for sugar. Finally, since food pouch purées are ultra-smooth, your baby won’t be exposed to a variety of textures.

Things to keep in mind

  • Once your baby is eating iron-rich foods twice a day, you can start introducing fruits and vegetables to their diet.
  • Offer your baby different-coloured fruits and vegetables each day.
  • During meals, take precautions to prevent choking.


Naître et grandir

Scientific review: Stéphanie Côté, M.Sc., nutritionist
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: November 2022


Photo: GettyImages/RuslanDashinsky


Sources and references

Note: The links to other websites are not updated regularly, and some URLs may have changed since publication. If a link is no longer valid, please use search engines to find the relevant information.

  • Côté, Stéphanie. Bébés : 21 jours de menus. Montreal, Éditions Modus Vivendi, 2019, 216 pp.
  • Doré, Nicole and Danielle Le Hénaff. From Tiny Tot to Toddler: A practical guide for parents from pregnancy to age two. Quebec City, Institut national de santé publique du Québec.
  • Lambert-Lagacé, Louise. Comment nourrir son enfant : du lait maternel au repas complet. Montreal, Les Éditions de l’Homme, 2015, 344 pp.
  • Health Canada. “Canada’s food guide.” 2022.
  • Canadian Paediatric Society. Caring for Kids. “Feeding your baby in the first year.” 2020.
  • Canadian Paediatric Society. Caring for Kids. “Healthy eating for children.” 2020.
  • Canadian Paediatric Society. Practice point. “Nutrition for healthy term infants, six to 24 months: An overview.” 2020.