Grapefruit

Food Type:
Age Suggestion: 6 months +
Nutrition Rating:How nutritious a food is with a focus on the specific nutrients babies need for optimal growth. The more nutritious a food, the more stars it will have.
Prep Time:How much time a food takes to prepare safely for a baby. The more time-consuming a food is to prepare safely, the more clocks it will have.
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Common Allergen: No
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a grapefruit cut in half before being prepared for babies starting solid food

When can babies eat grapefruit?

Grapefruit may be introduced as soon as your baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age, as long as the citrus membranes and seeds have been removed. Just be forewarned: acidic foods like grapefruit can cause or worsen diaper rash, and sometimes contact with skin cause a harmless rash around the mouth as your baby eats.

Grapefruits are the bittersweet descendent of the sugary orange and the tart pomelo, a cross between seeds brought from Asia and citrus trees growing on the Caribbean islands in the 18th century. Since that happy pairing, grapefruit has spawned new branches on the citrus family tree: minneola, tangelo, and uglifruit are all relatives of grapefruit. There are many varieties of grapefruit to try, ranging in color from white to yellow to pink to ruby red—each with different levels of intensity in sour and sweet flavor. 

Introduce grapefruit early and often to your baby and the bittersweet flavor might just become a favorite!

Amelia, 7 months, eats grapefruit for the first time.
Callie, 11 months, eats grapefruit for the first time.

Is grapefruit healthy for babies?

Yes. Like many citrus fruits, grapefruit is packed with vitamin C—an essential nutrient that powers your baby’s immune system and helps their body absorb iron from plant-based foods. Grapefruit is also an incredible source of carotenoids, which our bodies convert to vitamin A— another critical nutrient for immunity that also supports your baby’s growth, gut health, skin, and vision. Grapefruits even contain some fiber and B vitamins, too!

Like all fruits and vegetables, a grapefruit’s nutrient profile can change slightly depending on the variety on your plate. For example, lycopene is the main carotenoid found in both pink and red grapefruit, but not in white grapefruit. Known for its ability to offset cell damage from free radicals, lycopene is not the only phytonutrient that makes the rosy grapefruits such a powerful source of antioxidants. The fruit contains other beneficial phytonutrients like limonoid (an aromatic compound), naringenin (a flavonoid), and pectin (a form of fruit fiber).

Is grapefruit a choking hazard for babies?

Yes. Citrus segments (if left in the surrounding membrane) and seeds are choking hazards for babies and children. To reduce the risk, simply section the grapefruit to cut the membrane away from the flesh and pick out any lingering seeds.

For more information, visit our section on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with common choking hazards.

Is grapefruit a common allergen?

No. Grapefruit is not considered to be a common food allergen, but acidic foods like grapefruit and other citrus fruit can cause a harmless rash around the mouth as your baby eats and cause or worsen diaper rash. It’s also possible that individuals with Oral Allergy Syndrome (aka food pollen syndrome) may be sensitive to grapefruit and other citrus fruits.1 This may be due to similarities between proteins in some fruits and proteins in pollen.2 Cooking has been proven to reduce reactions.3

As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity of grapefruit on its own for the first couple of servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.

How do you prepare grapefruit for babies with baby-led weaning?

6 to 9 months old: Go big! Serve whole grapefruit segments with the membrane and seeds removed. If your baby bites off a too-big piece, stay calm as this is a learning moment. It’s important to give little ones an opportunity to independently work the food out of their mouths. Refrain from sticking your fingers in your baby’s mouth, which can inadvertently push the food further back on the tongue.

9 to 12 months old: Offer thin slices and bite-size pieces of grapefruit segments with the membrane and seeds removed to work your baby’s developing pincer grasp (where the thumb and pointer finger meet). 

12 to 24 months old: Continue serving bite-size pieces of grapefruit with the membrane and seeds removed and serve alongside a fork to encourage utensil use. Don’t be surprised if your baby starts to reject food during this stage as this is the time when babies begin to form opinions and preferences. Just continue to serve a wide variety of foodwithout pressuring your child to eat.  

★Tip: Go easy on grapefruit when your baby is teething. The acidity stings open wounds.

For more information on how to cut food for your baby’s age, hop over to our section on Food Sizes & Shapes.

Recipe: Grapefruit Chermoula with Avocado

Ingredients

  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1/2 small shallot
  • 1 teaspoon fresh garlic or ginger (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil, cilantro, mint, or herb of choice (optional)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 teaspoon avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil (optional)

Directions

  1. Prepare the grapefruit: Use a sharp knife to remove the peel and pith. Hold the grapefruit over a mixing bowl in one hand and use the other hand to cut between the membranes. The grapefruit segments should fall out; if not, use the knife to gently prod them loose.
  2. Transfer the grapefruit segments to a separate bowl and leave the juice in the mixing bowl. Squeeze the juice from the membranes into the mixing bowl. Discard the membranes.
  3. Mince the shallot and add to the mixing bowl with the grapefruit juice. If you’d like to add a little flavor, mince the garlic or ginger then add to the bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to combine and the onions to soften in the grapefruit juice.
  4. While you wait, mince any herbs that you’d like to use, and slice the avocado into age-appropriate sizes: big slices for younger babies; bite-size pieces for older babies and toddlers. Place the avocado on your baby’s plate.
  5. Add the grapefruit segments to the mixing bowl with shallots and grapefruit juice. Gently stir to combine, then add a heaping spoonful (or two!) of the mixture on top of the avocado. Get fancy with a sprinkle of herbs and a drizzle of oil on top!

Flavor Pairings

Try serving grapefruit as a balance to creamy foods like avocadoes, pungent cheeses like blue cheese, and sweet seafood like scallops. The tart flavor of the citrus can add brightness to sweet or savory salads, so consider mixing grapefruit with pineapple and orange or adding it to quinoa. Grapefruit is also delicious on its own with herbs and spices. A sprinkle of cinnamon is one of our favorites!

  1. Iorio, R. A., Del Duca, S., Calamelli, E., Pula, C., Lodolini, M., Scamardella, F., Pession, A., & Ricci, G. (2013). Citrus allergy from pollen to clinical symptoms. PloS one, 8(1), e53680. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0053680. Retrieved August 4, 2020
  2. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) or Pollen Fruit Syndrome (PFS). Retrieved August 4, 2020
  3. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) or Pollen Fruit Syndrome (PFS). Retrieved August 4, 2020