Kumquat

Food Type:
Age Suggestion: 9 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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Poop Friendly:Whether a food has qualities that help baby poop. Yes
Common Allergen: No
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six whole kumquats in a small pile on a white background

When can babies have kumquats?

Kumquats are best held off until around 9 months of age when baby has the ability to pick up small pieces of food and some practice with moving chewable food around in the mouth. If you have not introduced chewable food yet, it is best to wait until baby has had more practice before introducing kumquats.

Warning

Kumquats are a potential choking hazard because of their small size and round shape. Read on for tips on how to serve kumquats safely for babies.

Where do kumquats come from?

Kumquats originated in East Asia, evolving from the same plant family as oranges, lemons, and limes. Colonization and trade brought kumquats to Europe and beyond, but most are still grown on their native continent today. The English name kumquat is believed to be derived from Cantonese (gām-gwāt) or Japanese (kinkan). While the plants favor warm and sunny regions, kumquats are fairly resistant to cold, leading them to be crossed with other citrus to produce hybrids like the calamansi and limequat. Unlike other citrus, kumquats have a very thin, sweet-tasting peel that is typically eaten along with the tart flesh and tiny seeds inside.

Maya, 10 mos, eats kumquat cut into thin rings.
Cooper, 13 months, tries eating kumquats quartered lengthwise. Kumquats are challenging to chew, so Cooper is not consuming much, but he’s still gaining valuable practice.
Julian, 2.5 yrs, practices eating a whole kumquat. Rolling the kumquat can help soften it a bit.

Are kumquats healthy for babies?

Yes. Kumquats are a great source of vitamin C, which powers baby’s immune system and aids in the absorption of iron from plant-based foods. They are also a great source of fiber to support baby’s digestive system, and a good source of certain B vitamins (like vitamin B6 and folate), calcium, and potassium, which play an important role in blood, brain, cell, and skin health. The peel is particularly high in several plant-based compounds shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.1 2 3 4 5

Note that kumquats are naturally acidic, which may irritate baby’s skin and cause a harmless facial rash.6 7 Acidic foods can also cause or worsen diaper rash when consumed in excess.

Can kumquats help babies poop?

Yes. Kumquats are high in soluble fiber and pectin, which help the gut microbiome thrive and support digestive function.8 Additionally, they contain a plant compound called naringenin, which some studies have shown may help with constipation.9 Note that pooping patterns can vary significantly from baby to baby. Be sure to talk to your pediatric healthcare provider if you have concerns about baby’s pooping and digestive function.

Are kumquats a common choking hazard for babies?

Yes. Kumquats pose a high choking risk as they are small, round, and can be challenging to chew. To minimize the risk, slice into thin rings or quarter kumquats lengthwise and remove any seeds before serving. 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.

Are kumquats a common allergen?

No, kumquats are not classified as a common food allergen. However, self-reported sensitivity to citrus is described frequently in medical literature around the world. Also, individuals with Oral Allergy Syndrome (also called pollen-food allergy syndrome) may be sensitive to citrus fruits such as kumquats.10 In particular, individuals who are allergic to grass and certain tree pollens may also be more sensitive to citrus fruits.11 Oral Allergy Syndrome typically results in short-lived itching, tingling, or burning in the mouth and is unlikely to result in a dangerous reaction.

Note that kumquat is highly acidic, and contact with the juice may cause a harmless rash on the skin, typically around the mouth. It usually dissipates after a short time. Additionally, the acid can be irritating to a baby’s digestive tract, as well as cause or worsen diaper rashes when consumed in excess. The peel of kumquat also contains a compound called limonene, which is a known contact allergen and can cause allergic contact dermatitis in sensitized individuals.12 13

Kumquat is associated with phytophotodermatitis, a skin condition that occurs when a person gets the juice from the fruit on the skin and doesn’t wash it off. Compounds in the juice are activated by the sun and cause an itchy and occasionally blistering and painful rash on the skin.14 Cleaning the skin after citrus contact and using sun protection can help to prevent the phytophotodermatitis rash.

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.

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

6 to 8 months old: Avoid until baby can pick up small pieces of kumquat independently. While this skill tends to develop closer to 9 months of age, some babies may be ready a bit earlier. If you have a dish prepared for yourself with finely chopped kumquat or a sugar-free kumquat sauce, feel free to share with baby. You can also squeeze the juice of a kumquat (just be sure to remove any seeds) on top of any dish for baby.

9 to 11 months old: Offer kumquats that have been de-seeded and cut into thin rings for baby to pick up and try to self-feed with their developing pincer grasp. You can also cook pieces of kumquat into a sugar-free sauce to drizzle into other foods. At this age, hold off on salted or sweetened versions of kumquats to minimize sodium and sugar levels in the child’s diet.

12 to 24 months old: Continue to offer kumquats cut into thin rings for the child to pick up independently. If you see that a child is consistently showing the ability to bite and tear with their teeth (likely around 18 months), you can offer kumquats that have been cut in quarters (lengthwise from stem to bottom). Once they have demonstrated this skill, you can progress to kumquats that have been cut in half lengthwise, knowing that there is still some level of choking risk. Demonstrate how to bite into the halved kumquat in an exaggerated fashion before offering it to a child.

24 months old and up: When you feel your child has mature eating skills (moves food around in the mouth well, chews food before swallowing, etc.) and you are confident that the child can sit and follow directions, consider offering whole kumquats in a safe and supervised setting. Kumquats pose a high choking risk and most health advisory bodies do not recommend offering similar foods (like grapes) until age four. We believe that children must learn to chew challenging foods, and that it is safest to do so in a supervised setting with a caregiver so a child can develop the skills to safely manage these foods.

If you have not yet offered kumquats halved lengthwise, you may want to begin with this size before progressing to whole kumquats. We suggest rolling the kumquat with light pressure between your hands or on a table first to soften it, then demonstrating chewing with the molars prior to offering a whole kumquat: open your mouth, place the kumquat on your teeth and explain “I am using my big teeth to crush this fruit.” You may want to consider holding the kumquat for your child to practice biting—hold at the corner of the mouth and allow your child to close their teeth on the kumquat. Coach your child to push hard to break through the kumquat skin and bite off a piece of it. Do not offer whole kumquats if your child is not sitting at the table and supervised.

Kumquat seeds are edible, although they taste a bit bitter. At this age, you can model spitting out the seeds of your own kumquat and encourage the child to do the same, or the child can chew and swallow the seeds.

Learn simple strategies in our guide 15 Ways to Interest Toddlers in Trying New Foods.

Recipe: Sugar-Free Kumquat Sauce

Yield: 1 c (240 ml)
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Age: 6 months+

Ingredients

  • 2 c (480 ml) kumquats
  • ¾ c (180 ml) orange juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)

Directions

  1. Halve the kumquats.
  2. Place the kumquats, orange juice, and cinnamon stick in a pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.
  3. Cook until the kumquats have softened, about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the cinnamon stick from the sauce, then blend the mixture until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to ensure all fruit is pureed.
  5. Stir sauce into soft, scoopable foods like congee or yogurt, or serve it as a dip with resistive foods like pork spare rib or whole green beans.

Serve the Sauce

  1. Offer the sauce and let the child self-feed.
  2. If help is needed, pre-load a spoon, then hold it in the air in front of baby and let the child reach for it. Once baby has grabbed the spoon, let go.
  3. Eat some sauce alongside baby to model how it’s done.

To Store: Sugar-Free Kumquat Sauce keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days or in the freezer for 2 months.

Flavor Pairings

Kumquats pair well with catfish, chicken, mint, oats, pork, and yogurt.

Reviewed by

C. Aycinena Marcos, MS, RD Registered Dietitian and Public Health/Clinical Nutritionist

K. Tatiana Maldonado, MS, CCC-SLP, CBIS, CLEC. Pediatric Feeding Therapist

K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT. Pediatric Feeding Therapist

K. Rappaport, OTR/L, MS, SCFES, IBCLC. Pediatric Feeding Therapist.

Dr. S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)

Dr. R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist

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  2. Lou SN, Ho CT. (2017). Phenolic compounds and biological activities of small-size citrus: Kumquat and calamondin. J Food Drug Anal. 25(1):162-175. doi: 10.1016/j.jfda.2016.10.024. Retrieved August 10, 2022
  3. Chen MH, Yang KM, Huang TC, Wu ML. (2017). Traditional Small-Size Citrus from Taiwan: Essential Oils, Bioactive Compounds and Antioxidant Capacity. Medicines (Basel). 4(2):28. doi: 10.3390/medicines4020028. Retrieved August 10, 2022
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  5. Costanzo G, Iesce MR, Naviglio D, Ciaravolo M, Vitale E, Arena C. (2020). Comparative Studies on Different Citrus Cultivars: A Revaluation of Waste Mandarin Components. Antioxidants (Basel). 9(6):517. doi: 10.3390/antiox9060517. Retrieved August 10, 2022
  6. Lee, S. 2000. Physico-chemical characteristics of calamansi juice, agglomerate and drink. Jourrnal of Tropical Agriculture and Food Science 28(2): 183- 188. Retrieved August 10, 2022
  7. Morton, J.F. 2013. Fruits of Warm Climates. Miami: Echo Point Books and Media. Retrieved August 10, 2022
  8. Xu L, Yu W, Jiang J, Li N. (2014). [Clinical benefits after soluble dietary fiber supplementation: a randomized clinical trial in adults with slow-transit constipation]. Zhonghua Yi Xue Za Zhi. 94(48):3813-6. Chinese. Retrieved August 10, 2022
  9. Yin J, Liang Y, Wang D, Yan Z, Yin H, Wu D, Su Q. (2018). Naringenin induces laxative effects by upregulating the expression levels of c-Kit and SCF, as well as those of aquaporin 3 in mice with loperamide-induced constipation. Int J Mol Med. 41(2):649-658. doi: 10.3892/ijmm.2017.3301. Retrieved August 10, 2022
  10. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) or Pollen Fruit Syndrome (PFS). Retrieved August 10, 2022
  11. Iorio, R.A., Del Duca, S., Calamelli, E., Pula, C., Lodolini, M., et al. (2013). Citrus allergy from pollen to clinical symptoms. PloS one, 8(1), e53680. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0053680. Retrieved August 10, 2022
  12. Cardullo AC, Ruszkowski AM, DeLeo VA. (1989). Allergic contact dermatitis resulting from sensitivity to citrus peel, geraniol, and citral. J Am Acad Dermatol. 21(2 Pt 2):395-7. doi: 10.1016/s0190-9622(89)80043-x. Retrieved August 10, 2022
  13. Terao R , Murata A , Sugamoto K , Watanabe T , Nagahama K , Nakahara K , Kondo T , Murakami N , Fukui K , Hattori H , Eto N. (2019). Immunostimulatory effect of kumquat (Fortunella crassifolia) and its constituents, β-cryptoxanthin and R-limonene. Food Funct. 10(1):38-48. doi: 10.1039/c8fo01971a. Retrieved August 10, 2022
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