Can Toddlers Eat Dates?

Dates might not top your list of regularly purchased fruits, but they are certified by the American Heart Association as a heart-healthy food. Available both fresh and dried, dates make a healthy addition to a well-balanced meal plan. The fruit contains several nutrients that support your toddler's health and they're easy to serve, making them an ideal choice at the grocery store.


Dates are appropriate once your little one is able to eat finger foods, usually between 7 and 9 months. By the time your child reaches the toddler years, she likely has enough teeth to adequately chew dates. However, it's vital to follow proper safety precautions as dates are so chewy.


A well-balanced diet, made up of a variety of foods from each food group, is an effective way to ensure your toddler gets enough of the nutrients he needs for normal growth and development. Adding dates to your toddler's meal plan increases his intake of many essential nutrients. A serving of dates contains 3 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein for just 110 calories. Dates also contain iron, calcium, zinc, potassium and magnesium.


Despite the health benefits of dates, they do contain quite a bit of sugar. The American Heart Association encourages parents to limit their toddler's daily sugar intake to fewer than 4 teaspoons. A serving of dates contains 25 grams of sugar, or 5 teaspoons, which puts a toddler over the recommendation. Too much of the sweet stuff contributes to obesity and other health problems, according to Being overweight plays a role in heart disease and diabetes, which may show up as early as adolescence. You don't have to skip dates altogether, but balancing them with the rest of your toddler's diet keeps her from overdoing it on sugar, while still getting the nutritional benefits they offer.


As with any food you feed your toddler, it's important to take safety precautions when serving him dates. To prevent choking, the Healthy Children website, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommends cutting dates into pieces no larger than 1/2 inch. Supervise mealtime to ensure that your toddler isn't jamming handfuls of dates into his mouth, which can also cause choking. Dates don't top the list of common food allergens, but if your toddler has never had them, watch for signs of an allergy. This includes hives, swelling and difficulty breathing.



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