Watermelon’s a refreshing fruit. It makes the perfect treat on a hot summer day. It’s also full of vitamins and antioxidants, and it contains 92 percent water. That makes it a healthy alternative to sodas and sugary fruit juices if you’re not a water drinker.
After recognizing the health benefits of watermelon for yourself, you may wonder whether or not it’s safe to serve to your baby.
As your baby grows and experiences new tastes and textures, you may feel that it’s time to introduce solid foods like watermelon.
Watermelon’s a delicious, nutritious snack that some babies enjoy. But before serving your baby a slice, there are a few things you should know about feeding watermelon to young children.
Watermelon for Baby
When introducing new foods to your baby, it’s important to wait until your baby can handle the texture. The appropriate age to introduce solids depends on the child and the type of food. Most infants are ready between 8 and 10 months of age.
Before introducing solids, you have to take several factors into consideration. Does your baby have enough teeth to handle a particular food? Does your baby thoroughly chew his food before swallowing? For these reasons, you shouldn’t introduce watermelon or other solids too early.
Serving Watermelon to a Baby
Watermelon has a soft, watery texture that's easy to bite into and swallow. But remember, your baby is young and still discovering how to eat different types of foods.
Make sure you serve watermelon in small pieces to avoid any choking hazard. If you serve large pieces, your baby may put the entire piece in their mouth and swallow without chewing.
There are different ways to serve your baby watermelon. If your baby doesn’t have a problem chewing, you can cut the watermelon into tiny, bite-size pieces. Make sure you watch your baby as they eat. If you think the pieces are too large for your baby’s mouth, reduce the size.
Another option is mashing the watermelon and using a pacifier-like feeder.
To decrease the risk of choking, your baby should always sit upright while eating. Also check every piece of watermelon carefully before serving it. You want to make sure there are no seeds. You should also remain within arm’s reach in case your baby starts choking.
What to Buy
Once you decide that your baby is ready for watermelon, it’s best to buy fresh watermelon from your grocery store. Some grocery stores sell precut watermelon, but it comes with a risk of Salmonella or E. coli contamination.
If you serve your baby watermelon that’s been frozen, thaw the fruit at room temperature before serving to ensure it’s not too cold for your child’s mouth.
You can also find watermelon juice at some grocery stores, but this isn’t recommended for babies. Watermelon juice increases the risk of dental cavities.
Watermelon Allergies in Babies
Food allergies are the main concern when introducing your baby to a new food. Doctors generally recommend exclusive breast-feeding for the first four to six months, if possible. Complementary foods can usually be introduced between 4 and 6 months of age. Talk to your pediatrician to come up with a plan to introduce new foods to your baby.
It’s important to watch your baby eat. Look for signs of an allergic reaction to the fruit. To help you better identify a possible allergic reaction, don’t introduce watermelon and another new food at the same time. That’s because you won’t know whether your baby’s allergy symptoms were triggered by the watermelon or another food. Talk to your pediatrician if you suspect that your child might be allergic.
Signs of an allergic reaction to watermelon can include:
- runny nose
Your baby may also develop a rash after eating watermelon because of the acidic nature of the food. It might not be an allergy. Still, you should talk to your child’s doctor if your baby shows signs of a reaction.
Once your baby’s ready, serving watermelon as a healthy snack is beneficial to their growth and development. The vitamin C in watermelon can help strengthen your baby's immune system, which can help them fight illnesses like colds and ear infections. The vitamin A in watermelon can help your baby develop healthier skin and stronger teeth.
Speak with your child’s doctor if you have any questions or concerns about giving your baby watermelon.