Feijoa (also called guavasteen, guayaba del pais, and pineapple guava) may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Can’t find feijoa? Try fresh guava. While not the same flavor, guava can be a comparable alternative with even more vitamin C.
Feijoa thrives in areas with cooler temperatures bookending the warm growing season, like the highlands of South America, its original home. Feijoa traveled to other parts of the world in the 19th and 20th centuries, including the Pacific Islands, where the plant remains popular today. In New Zealand, the fruit has become an unofficial national symbol, growing abundantly in commercial farms and home gardens alike. The juicy fruits lend moisture to baked goods; brightness to salads, sauces, and stews; and tart flavor on top of desserts like pavlova.
Feijoa is sometimes called pineapple guava and for good reason. Just like some varieties of guava, feijoa has soft grainy pulp and tart skin that ranges in color from misty aquamarine to lime green. Feijoa can also look like an oblong guava, but despite similarities, feijoa belongs to a different species of plant, specifically, an evergreen shrub. At once astringent, sweet and herbaceous, feijoa emits a floral yet medicinal aroma with hints of mint that suggest its botanical cousin—eucalyptus.
★Tip: Feijoa’s beautiful flowers are edible, too. The petals taste sweet with hints of cinnamon and pineapple flavor that endures as the flower turns into fruit. Once a toddler gets comfortable with chewing and swallowing, try serving feijoa flower petals alongside the fruit for a taste test and hands-on lesson in plant biology.
Julian, 13 months, eats feijoa with the seeds and skin. For less experienced eaters it would be best to scoop out the flesh and mash into other food like warm cereal.
Río, 20 months, scoops the pulp out of the feijoa skin with a spoon.
Adie, age 3, cuts a feijoa open with a trainer knife.
Yes. Feijoa is packed with fiber to promote smooth digestion, vitamin B6 for a healthy metabolism, and folate for cognitive development and function. Feijoa also offers some vitamin C to promote a healthy immune system and help the body absorb iron from plant-based foods.
★Tip: Ripen feijoas at room temperature, then store the ripe fruit in the fridge for one week or in the freezer for a few months. Unlike guava, a feijoa retains its skin color as it ripens, which means it can be challenging to know when taste has reached its peak. To tell if a feijoa is ripe, feel it: the fruit is ready to eat when it is firm with just a bit of give (not mushy) – like a ripe banana, mango, or pear.
No. If served ripe, the jelly-like pulp of feijoa is easily scoopable and should give with the slightest pressure. Worried about the tiny seeds? You need not be. The tiny seeds don’t require chewing to be swallowed and because they are embedded in the gel of the fruit pulp, they do not pose an aspiration risk, as say, watermelon seeds can. Regardless, to minimize any risk, take care to serve feijoa when ripe and if you have firm feijoa, cook the fruit until soft. As always, make sure to create a safe eating environment and stay within arm’s reach of baby at mealtime.
No. Allergies to feijoa are rare and information on feijoa allergy is limited. Because feijoa is closely related to guava, individuals with allergies to latex may be sensitive. Individuals with Oral Allergy Syndrome who are allergic to birch pollen may be sensitive to both feijoa and guava. Oral Allergy Syndrome typically results in short-lived itching, tingling, or burning in the mouth and is unlikely to result in a dangerous reaction. Fortunately, peeling or cooking the fruit can help minimize even eliminate the reaction.
As you would do 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 amount served over future meals.
Recommended Guide: Introducing Allergens
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience.
Cut the feijoa in half crosswise, then scoop out the juicy pulp with a spoon. If the feijoa pulp is firm, cook until soft. Otherwise simply mash the fruit pulp, raw or cooked, with the back of a fork and served atop scoopable foods like oats, porridge, or yogurt. Explore seasonings like cardamom, cinnamon, or ginger for zingy flavor. Refrain from adding sugar or offering preserved feijoa products like jam, jelly, paste, or syrup at this age.
At this age, many toddlers are ready to eat feijoa pulp straight from the shell. Try cutting the fruit crosswise at the equator and pre-scooping a bit of the pulp with a spoon (but leaving the pulp in the shell of the fruit) and letting your toddler scrape out the pulp with their fingers or a spoon. The skin of feijoa is edible, too, so don’t worry if your child takes a bite. The skin is full of nutrition, and even if baby can’t break it down, the act of chewing and spitting helps develop oral-motor skills. You can also try serving feijoa quartered lengthwise so that the child can eat the flesh out of the slice (like an orange segment) or eat the whole quarter, including the skin. Not up for serving feijoa in the skin? Simply scoop out the pulp with a spoon and serve atop a scoopable food like porridge or yogurt. Feijoa will also add a punchy flavor to smoothies.
Adie, age 3, cuts a feijoa open with a trainer knife. You can cut a feijoa open either at the equator (as shown here) or lengthwise.
Learn all about the nutrients babies and toddlers need with our Nutrient Cheat Sheet.
1 cup (200 grams)
2 ripe feijoas (100 grams)
¼ cup (23 grams) dry instant rolled oats or instant oatmeal
½ cup (120 milliliters) water
1 pinch ground cinnamon
Wash and dry the feijoas.
Cut the feijoas in half along the equator. Scoop out and mash the juicy pulp, then set aside. Discard the shells or reserve for another use, like stewed feijoa shells.
Bring the water to a boil, then remove the pot from the heat and stir in the oats, mashed feijoa, and cinnamon.
Cover and let sit until thickened, about 5 minutes. Uncover and let cool to room temperature, about 5 minutes.
Scoop some feijoa cinnamon oatmeal into the child’s bowl. Exact serving size is variable. Let a child’s appetite determine how much is eaten.
Let the child self-feed by scooping with hands. To encourage the use of an utensil, preload a spoon and rest it next to the bowl for the child to try to pick up. Alternatively, pass the preloaded spoon in the air for the child to grab.
To Store: Feijoa cinnamon oatmeal keeps in an air-tight container in the fridge for 1 week.
Feijoa tastes both tart and sweet and sometimes herbaceous. Try pairing feijoa with other sweet-tart fruits like apple, blueberry, guava, kiwi, papaya, passion fruit, pineapple, raspberry, star fruit (carambola), strawberry and add sweeter fruits like banana, mango, or pear balance the acidity. With its citrusy flavor, think of feijoa as a tool to cut the richness in meats like beef, bison, lamb, or pork and brighten the nuttiness of grains like Khorasan wheat, quinoa, or rice. Like all fruits, feijoa also tastes delicious with creamy foods like mascarpone cheese, quark, ricotta cheese, and yogurt.
J. Truppi, MSN, CNS
V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP
K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT
S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)
R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist
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