Watermelon is a favorite summer treat for many families. It’s sweet and healthy and a great way to cool down, but before you feed it to your young child, learn when you can safely feed your baby watermelon and safety precautions to take with it.
Introducing Babies to Watermelon
The biggest concern when you’re introducing new foods to your baby is whether they will be able to digest it. Your baby’s stomach is delicate, and it takes time for them to adjust to solid food. Some foods, like honey, shouldn’t be introduced until your baby is at least a year old.
Luckily, you don’t have to wait that long to introduce your baby to watermelon. In fact, watermelon is one of the first foods you can give your little one. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends introducing your child to solid foods, including pureed fruits and vegetables, at about six months. They also recommend that you offer your baby food with different textures so they learn these textures early.
Watermelon is a good early food to offer your baby. It’s soft and watery, so it shouldn’t be too difficult for your baby to chew and swallow. It’s also sweet, which many babies like.
Nutritional Benefits of Watermelon for Babies
Watermelon is loaded with micronutrients like vitamins and minerals that will help your baby grow and develop.
For example, watermelon has more than 470 micrograms of beta carotene per cup. Beta carotene is an important antioxidant that your body converts into vitamin A. Getting enough vitamin A helps your baby’s eyes grow and develop and it’s necessary for the lungs, kidneys, heart, and immune system to work properly. Giving your baby watermelon can give them the vitamins they need to stay healthy.
Watermelon is also an easy way to make sure your baby stays hydrated. Especially during warmer months, it’s important to make sure your baby drinks enough. Watermelon is more than 90% water. If your child is fussy or doesn’t like drinking water, feeding them watermelon can help them get the liquids they need.
How to Prepare Watermelon for Babies
When your baby is first exploring solid foods, there are a few common ways to prepare fruits like watermelon. For example, mashing food until it’s smooth is the easiest way to help them try food without having to chew. Watermelon can easily be mashed and blended to make it easy for infants to try.
Slightly older babies who can handle lumpier foods may enjoy small chunks of watermelon. Make sure that the pieces are small enough that your child won’t choke on them. Only feed them one chunk at a time and keep an eye on your baby while they’re eating.
It’s important to serve your baby watermelon without seeds. Even if you buy seedless watermelon, check it for seeds, which may cause your child to choke. If you mash your watermelon, strain it to remove any seeds before you feed it to your baby.
Watermelon Safety Precautions for Babies
Taking the right safety measures can help your little one try watermelon without risking their health or safety. Here are three things to consider before feeding your baby watermelon:
Diseases. Raw fruits and vegetables carry the risk of diseases like salmonella and E. coli. These bacteria live on the surface of produce, and even watermelon can put you at risk. Before feeding your baby watermelon, wash the outside of the melon rind with soap and water. This prevents any germs on the outside of the melon from getting on the knife when you cut it and contaminating the fruit inside.
Allergies. When you first introduce your baby to solid foods, you need to take things slowly. Your baby may be allergic to certain foods, and you won’t know until they try those things. Introduce your baby to one food at a time, and wait a few days before introducing them to something new. This way, you’ll be able to spot any allergic reactions, and you’ll know exactly what might have triggered the symptoms.
Choking hazards. Finally, choking hazards are a big risk with your baby. Only feed them mashed and pureed watermelon until you’re confident they can chew and swallow larger chunks.