When can babies eat lemon?
Babies can consume lemon as soon as they are ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months old. Lemons are acidic, and large amounts are hard on little tummies and can also cause or worsen diaper rash. But a squirt of lemon to add flavor is fine!
Fun Fact: Though the lemon is ubiquitous in cooking throughout the world, its exact origin is unknown. Lemons are believed to have first grown in Asia, likely northeast India, Burma, or China.
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 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.
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?
Every baby develops on their own timeline. The preparation suggestions below are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional, nutritionist or dietitian, or expert in pediatric feeding and eating. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
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!
★Tip: 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
- Olive Oil or Unsalted Butter
- 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.
- 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.
- Once the broccoli is fully cooked, transfer the florets from the steamer to the bowl. Stir to coat and let cool before serving.
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.