Lemon

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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two lemons on a table before being prepared for a baby starting solid food

When can babies eat lemon?

Lemons can be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months old. Lemons are acidic, so start slow as acidic foods can be hard on little tummies and can also cause or worsen diaper rash.

Río, 7 months, tastes lemon for the first time.
Zeke, 10 months, eats bits of fresh lemon—without flinching!
Max, 15 months, tastes lemon (with the rind on) for the first time.

Is lemon healthy for babies?

When served in limited amount, yes—lemon can be healthy for your baby. Lemons contain vitamin C, which helps our bodies absorb iron from plants and boosts our immune systems. Because lemon is very acidic, it is hard on the developing digestive tracts of babies, so introduce the ingredient in a small amount. Try sprinkling a few drops of lemon juice on your baby’s food, or mixing it into a mashed vegetable. The juice will enhance the dish and introduce sour flavor—an important taste for little ones to explore as they develop their palettes.

Note: Lemons tend to be sprayed heavily with pesticides, so aim to purchase organic lemons to decrease exposure to toxins.

Is lemon a common choking hazard for babies?

Lemon seeds are a choking hazard and should always be removed prior to serving. The membrane in all citrus fruit is also a choking risk (for example, when a citrus fruit’s sections are served whole such as an orange section still in the membrane). While it’s unlikely you’ll be serving sectioned lemons, always remove the membrane and seeds of citrus fruits before serving.

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

Is lemon a common allergen?

No. Lemon allergies are possible, though quite rare. That said, it is quite common for acidic juice to cause a red rash around a baby’s mouth during and/or after eating. Sometimes this is merely a skin reaction to the acidity (and not necessarily an indication of a food allergy) but if you are concerned, consult your pediatrician.

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

6 to 9 months old: Keep it simple: add a squirt of lemon juice to foods that you have already prepared, such as steamed vegetables, chicken, or fish.

9 to 12 months old: At this age your baby may enjoy the fun of tasting lemon or limes on their own. To do so, offer a wedge of lemon, seeds removed, and take the opportunity to teach them the word sour.

12 to 24 months old: Continue to incorporate lemon into dishes as you like and serve wedges of lemons (seeds removed) alongside dishes that benefit from a little acid. And teach your toddler how to squeeze lemon on to their foods—they’ll love it!

For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.

Whisk a dash of lemon juice with a tablespoon of olive oil or some unsalted butter to make a simple and tasty dressing for steamed cauliflower, broccoli, and asparagus.

Recipe: Lemony Broccoli

Ingredients

  • Broccoli
  • Olive Oil or Unsalted Butter
  • Lemon

Directions

  1. Wash the broccoli and cut the individual florets from the woody stem. Reserve the stem for your own meal, and steam the florets until they’re very soft, but not mushy.
  2. While the broccoli is steaming, whisk 1 tablespoon of olive oil (or melted butter) with a squeeze of lemon juice in a mixing bowl until it’s emulsified.
  3. Once the broccoli is fully cooked, transfer the florets from the steamer to the bowl. Stir to coat and let cool before serving.

Flavor Pairings

Lemon’s acidity highlights other flavor in a dish. Try pairing it with vegetables such as asparagus, cauliflower, or potato; herbs such as basil or rosemary; and proteins such as chicken, fish, goat cheese, or shellfish.