Lemon may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Note that lemon is highly acidic and may cause a harmless rash upon contact with skin and also may cause or worsen diaper rash.
Lemons are part of the citrus family—a diverse group of fruits that vary in acidity, color, shape, size, and taste. While its precise origin is unknown, it is believed that lemon is a natural hybrid of wild citrus varieties that grew in the lands around the Mediterranean Sea many centuries ago. Over time, colonization and trade led to cultivation of the hundreds of varieties of lemon available worldwide today, from sweet meyer lemon to super sour ponderosa lemon. While lemon is commonly consumed for its flesh or juice, its peel is also edible, and its leaves are used as a seasoning. Lemon juice works beautifully as a substitute for vinegar in dressing, marinades, and many other recipes.
Río, 7 months, tastes lemon for the first time.
Oliver, 9 months, tastes a de-seeded lemon.
Beth, 16 months, tastes a de-seeded slice of lemon.
Yes. Lemon is an excellent source of vitamin C, which powers baby’s immune system and aids in the absorption of iron from plant-based foods. It also offers some potassium and fiber to support baby’s electrolyte balance and digestive health, respectively. Citrus peels are particularly high in several plant-based compounds like flavonoids that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties to support baby’s physiologic resilience.
No. Lemon is typically used for its zest or juice, which do not pose much choking risk. However, citrus seeds and whole citrus segments pose a risk for young eaters. To reduce the risk, do not serve lemon seeds, whole citrus segments, or small lemon wedges to baby. 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, lemon is 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 lemons. In particular, individuals who are allergic to grass and certain tree pollens may also be more sensitive to citrus fruits. Oral Allergy Syndrome typically results in short-lived itching, tingling, or burning in the mouth, and it is unlikely to result in a dangerous reaction. Peeling or cooking lemon can help minimize the reaction. The peel of lemon also contains a compound called limonene, which is a known contact allergen, and can cause allergic contact dermatitis in sensitized individuals.
Note that lemon is highly acidic, and exposure to the acid may cause a harmless rash upon contact with skin, typically around the mouth. The rash usually dissipates shortly after it shows up. Additionally, the acidity of citrus fruits like lemon can cause or worsen diaper rashes when consumed in excess. Barrier ointments (such as pure petroleum jelly or a plant-based oil/wax combination) can be applied to the face and diaper area before mealtime to help protect the skin.
Lemon is also 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 a pigmented, itchy, and occasionally blistering and painful rash on the skin. Cleansing 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.
No. Lemonade should not be served before the first birthday, since baby’s primary drink at this stage should be breast (human) milk and/or formula, and because lemonade is often heavily sweetened to balance lemon’s sour flavor. After the first birthday, small amounts of lemonade (less than 4 ounces or 118 ml a day, ideally diluted with water to reduce sweetness) may be offered, but there are benefits to waiting until after the second birthday or even longer. Delaying the introduction of sweet drinks, like lemonade and other fruit juices, can help establish a foundation for a varied diet and give the child an opportunity to build an appreciation for a diversity of unsweetened food and drink. Regular and especially excessive consumption of sweet beverages may reduce the diversity of foods and nutrients consumed, increase the risk of dental cavities, and alter appetite in ways that can negatively affect growth.
No, not generally. While lemon is high in fiber, the fruit is typically consumed in small amounts or in ways that do not make a significant impact on digestion. Remember that pooping patterns can vary significantly from baby to baby. If you have concerns about baby’s pooping and digestive function, check out our page on knowing when to worry about baby’s poop and, as always, 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. Your child is an individual and may have needs or considerations beyond generally accepted practices. In determining the recommendations for size and shape of foods, we use the best available scientific information regarding gross, fine, and oral motor development to minimize choking risk. The preparation suggestions we offer are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for child-specific, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional or provider. It is impossible to fully eliminate all risk of a baby or child choking on any liquid, puree, or food. We advise you to follow all safety protocols we suggest to create a safe eating environment and to make educated choices for your child regarding their specific needs. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
Use lemon juice or lemon zest to season age-appropriate fruit, vegetables, grains, or other foods to share with baby. You can also use lemon as a way to boost vitamin C in meals with beans, lentils, leafy greens, and other foods with lots of plant-based iron. Baby may enjoy tasting lemon on its own. If you have a large lemon (i.e. if the lemon is larger than baby’s mouth), remove the seeds and pass a lemon half to baby as you take the opportunity to start teaching the word sour.
Add lemon juice and lemon zest to meals as desired. At this age, toddlers may be able to practice squeezing lemon onto their own food. Offer a large lemon wedge (seeds removed) and teach the child how to squeeze the fruit and sprinkle the juice. You can also share meals that are seasoned with preserved lemons; just make sure to cut the preserved lemon into bite-sized pieces, and consider serving in moderation due to the high sodium and sugar content in preserved lemon.
Add lemon juice or lemon zest to meals as desired, and serve lemon wedges (seeds removed) alongside dishes that benefit from a little tart flavor for the child to squeeze on themselves. At this age, you can also serve lemonade as an occasional drink and sweetened lemon desserts in moderation.
Not sure which food to try next? Download the Solid Starts app for more ideas and how to serve them.
3 c (720 ml)
Wash the broccoli.
Place the florets in a steamer basket in a pot or a microwave-safe bowl. Add enough water to barely cover the bottom of the pot or bowl.
Cover and steam the florets until they have brightened in color and softened slightly, but hold together when pressed, about 3 minutes in the microwave or 6 minutes on the stovetop.
Transfer the florets to a mixing bowl. Coat them with oil and lemon juice.
Set aside some large florets to offer to the child, then season the rest with salt to taste for yourself.
Serve the Broccoli
Offer broccoli florets, then let the child self-feed.
If help is needed, hold a floret in the air in front of the child, then let them reach for it. Alternatively, mash some broccoli to pre-load on a spoon for the child.
Eat some broccoli alongside the child to model how it’s done.
To Store: Lemony Broccoli keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for 2 months.
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
Sign up for new guides, recipes and special offers
The content offered on SolidStarts.com is for informational purposes only. Solidstarts is not engaged in rendering professional advice, whether medical or otherwise, to individual users or their children or families. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or your medical or health professional, nutritionist, or expert in pediatric feeding and eating. By accessing the content on SolidStarts.com, you acknowledge and agree that you are accepting the responsibility for your child’s health and well-being. In return for providing you with an array of content “baby-led weaning” information, you waive any claims that you or your child may have as a result of utilizing the content on SolidStarts.com.