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WATERMELON | 6 mos+ |🥇🌈

Updated: Jan 9


prevent choking, starting solids, feeding baby, feeding toddlers, gagging, how to feed baby, first foods, choking hazard, baby-led weaning, blw, baby-led feeding, fear of baby choking, watermelon for babies, watermelon recipes, finger foods, baby food

Watermelon is a sweet present of summer! Nutritionally, watermelon doesn't offer much in it other than water. However, this fruit provides a fair amount of Vitamin A and ascorbic acid. Vitamin A will help your baby develop a powerful vision, while vitamin C will promote their immune system (defense system) helping baby fight against infections and other diseases.


DISCLAIMER: Each child has their own development timeline and specific needs. The content below is general information and for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional one-on-one advice. You are responsible for supervising your child’s health and for evaluating the appropriateness of the information below for your child. Please consult your healthcare provider regarding support or advice for your child's well being and health. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.

Contents


When can I give watermelon to my baby?

Babies can eat watermelon as soon as they are ready to start eating solid foods, which is usually when they are around 6 months of age and have met all the readiness signs for solids, unless otherwise advised by your baby's healthcare provider. Watermelon can be a great first finger food, because it has a soft consistency, but babies can still pick it up.



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Is watermelon a healthy food for babies?

Watermelon is a sweet present of summer! Nutritionally, watermelon doesn't offer much in it other than water. However, this fruit provides a fair amount of Vitamin A and ascorbic acid. Vitamin A will help your baby develop a powerful vision, while vitamin C will promote their immune system (defense system) helping baby fight against infections and other diseases.

Watermelon is also a good source of B-complex vitamins, fiber, and the amino acid Arginine, which has been shown to boost metabolism. It contains rich supplies of potassium, which helps prevent sore muscles, and lycopene known for its antioxidant benefits.


This fruit is excellent for providing hydration on hot summer days. The best thing about watermelon is that it is made up of 93% water. If your baby is not a water drinker, watermelon can help them meet their daily water requirements in a fun and tasty way!


Fun Fact: Watermelon is native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa.


Is watermelon a safe food for babies?

Data collected by the EU suggests that pre-cut or ready-to-eat watermelon may contain Salmonella. The fruit might be contaminated during processing. Different safety measures are usually taken to avoid contamination.


Salmonella is bacteria that have been identified as a major root of foodborne illness in the United States and in other countries. It causes salmonellosis. The symptoms include fever, diarrhea, upset stomach, and body pain. Diarrhea makes the body lose too much water and minerals called electrolytes. That leads to dehydration. Babies can get dehydrated very quickly, within a day or two after diarrhea starts, and it can be very dangerous, especially in young babies.


The nutritional profile of watermelon changes due to processing. Fresh fruit is highly beneficial for babies as compared to processed fruits. Whenever possible, offer freshly cut watermelon to your baby instead of the pre-cut or ready-to-eat options.


See the sections "How to buy" and "How to prepare and offer" for more information about safely offering watermelon to babies.


Is watermelon a choking hazard for babies?

Watermelon is not listed on CDC's list of most common choking hazards for babies. But the seeds present in the flesh of watermelon may get stuck into the throat of the baby, so look for seedless watermelon to offer to your baby. Try removing any black seeds left behind, the white seeds should be fine. Some babies can have a fair amount of gagging from the juices. The best way to prevent choking, regardless of the food offered, is by always being with your baby as they eat, and by offering age appropriate food sizes and shapes. See “How to prepare and offer” section below for more details.


Fun Fact: Though seedless watermelons don't contain seeds, they must be grown from seed.


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Note: Keep in mind that any food can present a risk for choking if not prepared correctly. You are responsible for following age and food modification guidelines provided in order to reduce your baby’s risk for choking.

Is watermelon a top food allergen for babies?

Watermelon allergies in babies are uncommon, however, some babies may have a sensitivity to the acidic nature of watermelon. At times, watermelon may lead to acidity, as the fructose present in the fruit may not be entirely absorbed by the baby’s gastrointestinal system, which may cause symptoms like rashes, diarrhea, vomiting, and runny nose.


Whenever you give your baby watermelon (or any other food) for the first time, offer it in small quantities, and watch for any signs of a reaction. If your baby seems to tolerate the food well and you see no adverse reaction, then continue to gradually increase portion sizes when you offer it again to baby. If your baby shows any symptoms like diarrhea, skin hives, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, swelling of mouth, weakness, or dizziness after the consumption of parsnips, consult your healthcare provider. These symptoms can be a sign of allergy or intolerance.


If your baby shows a reaction to watermelon, keep an eye for possible reaction when offering other melon-like fruits, such as honeydew melons, cucumbers, and cantaloupes. Most babies outgrow their sensitivity to acidic foods as they approach their first birthday. Also, individuals with grass allergies or Oral Allergy Syndrome (also called “pollen-food” allergy syndrome) may be sensitive to watermelon.


Note: Always consult with your healthcare provider regarding introducing solid foods to your baby, and specifically discuss any foods that may pose allergy risks for your baby.

How to buy watermelon for babies


Choose ripe, juicy, seedless watermelon for your baby. Keep these things in mind while selecting a watermelon for your baby:

  • A fully grown watermelon is heavier. It should look smooth and a little dull on the top.

  • You can know if it is ripe by giving a good thump with your finger. A ripe watermelon should sound hollow when tapped. Whereas a dull sound shows under-ripe or overripe watermelon.

  • Check for cuts, bruises, sagging depressions and spots, which indicate rotten or over-ripened fruit.

  • Look for the yellow creamy spots. The spot shows that your watermelon is fully ripe.

  • Give preference to fresh watermelon. Avoid buying pre-cut watermelons for babies, as they have a high risk of contamination.

Round melons tend to be sweeter compared to elongated ones, which are more watery.



When is watermelon in season?


Watermelons are exceptional gifts of summer. They are in season mostly in the summer months (from May to September in the US). Their seasons vary slightly according to the geographical location.


In-season produce is fresher and tastes better, sweeter and perfectly ripe. They also tend to cost less compared to out-of-season produce. Seasonal produce in your area will vary by growing conditions and weather.


How to store watermelon


Storing whole watermelon at room temperature helps to retain its antioxidants. Uncut watermelons stay good for a week to ten days outside the fridge and can last for two to three weeks under refrigeration. Freezing or refrigerating whole watermelon may affect its nutrient content.


For the leftover watermelon, cut them into pieces and wrap them into a tight plastic bag. You can store it for 3-4 days. The plastic bag will reduce cross-contamination and will also reduce the chances of change in flavor and aroma. If you want to store the half of a watermelon, again, wrap it in a tight plastic bag.

How to prepare and offer watermelon to babies

The fresh fruit is the best way to offer watermelon to babies. To safely offer watermelon to your baby, first pick a juicy, seedless, fully ripe watermelon (see tips above for selecting watermelon). Wash the watermelon under cool running water, cut fruit into sizes and shapes appropriate to baby’s age, development stage, and feeding skills (see suggestions below).

Make sure to remove black seeds before you feed it to your little one.



Purees: mash de-seeded watermelon using a blender, food processor, or by using a fork to make a puree. Offer via spoon feeding. Since watermelon is very high in water it doesn’t yield a very thick puree, so it would be hard to offer as a preloaded spoon for baby to self-feed. If you want to offer a preloaded spoon for baby to eat independently, you can try thickening the watermelon puree by mixing with other mashed fruits such as banana or avocado, or with full fat plain yogurt. Another option to offer it is by serving puree in an open cup and helping your baby drink from it.



Don't get stuck on purees! It's completely ok to start with only pureed foods, if that feels more comfortable to you. However, keep in mind that purees are just a transitional phase into finger foods. It shouldn't last for more than a few days or a couple of weeks. Aim to start exposing your baby to lumpy and finger foods no later than 8 months, unless otherwise advised by your baby's health care provider.


Finger food 6 to 9 months old: At this age babies are only able to grab food with their whole palm, so the best way to serve watermelon to beginner eaters is in little sticks by cutting fruit into thin, wide rectangular slices. This shape makes fruit more manageable for a young baby. If they end up biting off too big of a piece, give them the opportunity to work it out on their own before intervening.


You can also offer mashed watermelon mixed with full fat plain yogurt, preload a baby spoon, and place it on the baby’s tray or hand so baby can eat independently. Note that yogurt is a common food allergen, so if you are just starting to introduce it into baby’s diet, make sure to start with small portions and watch for any type of reaction.


As your baby gets more proficient in his biting and chewing skills, you can start offering the classic triangular shape, with the rind on, to aid in grip. Make sure to remove any black seeds.


Serve the slices with delicious and nutritious dips like yogurt! Or puree watermelon as suggested above and freeze into small popsicles to help soothe fussy teething babies.



Finger food 9 to 12 months old: you can continue to offer thin rectangular slices without seeds. However, at this stage, babies begin to use their pincer grasp (thumb and index finger) to pick up small pieces of food, and some babies might not be as interested in stick shapes anymore. So you can move into bite sizes of food about the size of a garbanzo bean. Try lightly mashing bite-size pieces with your fingers or a fork to reduce risk of choking.

Encourage the use of utensils by preloading a fork with a bite sized piece of watermelon so baby can bring it to their mouths on their own.




This is also a great stage to start mixing watermelon with other foods and making preparations, since your baby should have already been exposed to a few different foods, and you probably already ruled out some of the possible food allergies or intolerance.



Finger food 12+ months old: Continue to offer watermelon as suggested above. For more advanced eaters, try serving watermelon in a half-moon shape, keeping the rind, so your baby can use it as a handle.

Note: Finger foods are small pieces of food that your baby can pick up and eat easily. Introducing finger foods early, as soon as starting solids, helps your baby get used to different food textures, improves coordination and encourages self-feeding. These are important feeding skills. Babies can enjoy soft finger foods before they have teeth. They can mash foods into smaller pieces using their gums.


⚠️Avoid putting finger foods or whole foods in your baby's mouth for them. Your baby must do this at their own pace and under their own control.⚠️


Watermelon meal ideas for babies:

  • Offer freshly cut watermelon as a finger food.

  • Stir mashed/pureed watermelon into your baby’s cereal.

  • To soothe baby’s gums when teething, freeze watermelon, then puree it and serve it from a spoon – or give frozen sticks of watermelon to baby to gnaw on. Alternatively, pop the chunks into a Teething Feeder or make popsicles.

Recipes




 

As always, discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider. This post and this site is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice. The materials and services provided by this site are for informational purposes only.

 

Library Symbol Legend

Here in our Food Library we use some symbols or emojis to make it easier for you to find what you need. Listed below are the symbols we use and what they mean.


🔥 - this is a high-calorie food. You should include a high-calorie food at each meal.

💪 - this is an iron-rich food. You should include an iron-rich food at each meal.

🌈 - this is a colorful food. You should include a fruit and/or a vegetable at each meal.

🥇 - this food is a great choice for baby's first food.

🌱 - this food is a great choice for plant-based babies.

💩 - this is a food that helps prevent or treat constipation.

🥜 - this food contains peanuts, a common food allergen.

🍳 - this food contains egg, a common food allergen.

🐄 - this food contains cow's milk, a common food allergen.

🌾 - this food contains wheat, a common food allergen.

✳️ - this food contains soy, a common food allergen.

💮 - this food contains sesame seed, a common food allergen.

🌰 - this food contains tree nuts, a common food allergen.

🐠 - this food contains fish, a common food allergen.

🍤 - this food contains shellfish, a common food allergen.

⚠️ - this food is a common choking hazard. Make sure to follow age and preparation guidelines.

- tips, tricks, and hacks.


References



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