Cantaloupe may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.
There is currently a recall on certain whole and pre-cut cantaloupes sold in the United States and Canada due to salmonella contamination. Visit the U. S. FDA website for more information on which cantaloupes are part of the recall.
Cantaloupe, especially in the form of melon balls, is a choking hazard, so keep reading to learn how to serve this fruit safely. In addition, the melon’s rind can carry pathogenic bacteria from the soil in which it grows, so make sure to wash cantaloupe’s rind before serving.
Cantaloupes are a type of muskmelon—a family of melons that includes many varieties, including canary, casaba, cavallion, crenshaw, crown, honeydew, winter melons, and more. While the fruit’s exact origins are unknown, it has long thrived in warm regions of Africa and Asia and today is grown worldwide, where it goes by many different names: rock melon in Southeast Asia and Australia, spanspek in South Africa, and in North America, cantaloupe. Meanwhile in Europe, cantaloupes can sometimes have a smooth white rind with green ribbing and a sweeter orange flesh. Color, shape, and size differ depending on the variety, but all share a key characteristic sweetness.
Kalani, 7 months, eats cantaloupe in the shape of a thin, wide rectangle.
Max, 12 months, eats cantaloupe in the form of a crescent moon.
Leila, 17 months, eats a large wedge of cantaloupe with the rind left intact. Always wash the rind well before serving.
Yes. Cantaloupe is rich in potassium, folate, vitamins A, B6, and C, as well as carotenoids like beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Plus, it’s packed with antioxidants, phenolic compounds, and flavonoids. Together, these nutrients support baby’s hydration, electrolyte balance, nervous system, vision, metabolism, immunity, and overall bodily resilience.
It is important to wash and prepare cantaloupe and all melons with a little extra care. The melon’s rind can carry pathogenic bacteria picked up from the soil it grows in. Immediately before serving melon, thoroughly wash and scrub the rind, then pat it dry before cutting into it. Washing the melon with water works just fine; there is no need to use any special produce wash or detergent.
★Tip: Choose cantaloupe that feels heavy for its size and appears free of soft spots and mold. Note that cantaloupe is quite perishable; it is best consumed within a day or two after it has ripened. To tell if the melon is ripe, smell it: the fruit will smell floral, musky, and sweet.
Yes. Cantaloupe is firm and slippery—two qualities that can increase the risk of choking. The risk is even greater when cantaloupe is cut into melon balls or large chunks, or when it is underripe and even more firm. To reduce the risk, cut ripe cantaloupe into thin pieces. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meals. For more information on choking, visit our sections on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.
No, muskmelons like cantaloupe are not a common food allergen. Individuals with Oral Allergy Syndrome (also known as pollen food allergy syndrome), especially those who are allergic to ragweed pollen, may be sensitive to muskmelon. Oral Allergy Syndrome typically results in short-lived itching, tingling, or burning in the mouth and is unlikely to result in a dangerous reaction. Cooking muskmelon can help minimize or even eliminate the reaction. If baby experiences Oral Allergy Syndrome, contact rashes may occur on the hands or face after handling or eating the melon. Washing hands immediately after handling muskmelon and applying a barrier ointment (such as pure petroleum jelly or a plant-based oil/wax combination) to baby’s face before eating can help to prevent such rashes.
As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity for the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.
Yes. Cantaloupe contains fiber and water, which help to support healthy gut bacteria, bulk up poop, and hydrate the intestines for healthy digestion and bowel movements. Remember that pooping patterns can vary significantly from baby to baby. If you have concerns about baby’s pooping and digestive function, talk to your pediatric healthcare provider.
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience.
Wash the rind before cutting into the melon. Remove the rind and seeds, then cut the melon into thin crescent moons or thin rectangular shapes. To encourage self-feeding, hold a piece in the air in front of baby and let the child grab it from you and bring it to the mouth on their own. At this age, do not serve melon balls or large chunks of cantaloupe because the firm, slippery consistency poses a high risk of choking.
Wash the rind before cutting into the melon. Remove the rind and seeds, then cut the melon into thin crescent moons or thin rectangular strips about the size of two adult fingers pressed together. If the child is consistently taking big bites, cut the thin slices into smaller bite-sized pieces. After the first birthday, offer an age-appropriate utensil for practice picking up bite-sized pieces of melon. Just take care to avoid offering melon balls or large chunks of cantaloupe because the firm, slippery consistency poses a high risk of choking.
At this age, many toddlers are ready to handle large wedges of melon with the rind still attached. Just make sure to wash the rind before cutting into the melon and remove any lingering seeds.
At about 3 years of age, a child may be ready to start taking bites of cantaloupe chunks, as often sold in containers of pre-cut fruit. Chunks of cantaloupe can pose a choking risk because they are hard and slippery. Oftentimes, cantaloupe chunks can be about the size of a toddler’s mouth, increasing the risk that the child will attempt to place the entire fruit in their mouth instead of taking a manageable bite. If the child is able to eat and swallow a variety of soft, easy-to-chew foods using the following skills, they may be ready to try chunks of cantaloupe:
Bites into food to break off smaller pieces
Moves food to the side of the mouth (to the molars) with the tongue
Chews food and breaks it down before swallowing
Manages food when it breaks apart in the mouth and spit out food when necessary
Before offering a cantaloupe chunk to a child at this age, we suggest demonstrating how to safely take a bite and show how you move the piece to your molars to chew. You may want to hold the chunk of cantaloupe for the child to practice biting—hold at the corner of the mouth and allow the child to close their teeth on the food. Coach the child to thoroughly chew the chunk of cantaloupe before swallowing. You can demonstrate this by chewing with your mouth open to show how your molars have mashed the fruit so that it is safe to swallow.
Not sure what food to try next? Have a look at our guide, 50 Fantastic First Foods for Babies.
This recipe contains a common allergen: coconut. While coconut allergy is rare, it is classified as a tree nut by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Only serve to a child after this allergen has been safely introduced.
Wash the melon rind.
Cut the melon in half. Scoop out the seeds from one half, peel the rind, and cut the melon into thin handles. Store the other melon half for another use.
Press coconut flakes on some of the cantaloupe handles to add grip for your child.
Serve the Cantaloupe
Offer cantaloupe and let your child self-feed.
If help is needed, hold a piece of cantaloupe in the air in front of your child, then let them grab it from you.
Eat some cantaloupe alongside the child to model how it’s done.
To Store: Cut cantaloupe keeps when tightly sealed in the refrigerator for 3 days.
The sweet muskiness of cantaloupe pairs well with savory foods like almonds, cashews, chicken, and fish. It also balances tart fruits like citrus, green grapes, or strawberries. Try pairing cantaloupe with its cousins in the gourd family: cucumber and other muskmelons like honeydew. Adding layers of flavor like freshly grated ginger or herbs like basil, lemongrass, or mint will lend complexity to the dish.
Pediatrician & pediatric gastroenterologist
Pediatrician & pediatric allergist/immunologist
Pediatric occupational therapist, feeding & swallowing specialist, international board-certified lactation consultant
Speech-language pathologist, feeding & swallowing specialist
Pediatric registered dietitian & nutritionist
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