When can babies eat limes?
Babies can consume limes as soon as they are ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Note: Limes and other citrus fruits are highly acidic and may cause or worsen diaper rash.
Background and origins of limes
Limes are part of the citrus family—a diverse group of fruits that vary in acidity and genetic origin. There are many varieties ranging from green to yellow to red, but the most common ones available to consumers are the key lime (or Mexican lime), the makrut lime, and the Persian lime.1 2 Limes are believed to have originated in Southeast Asia, and today most of the limes on the market in the United States come from Central America, with Mexico leading as the world’s largest exporter.3 4
Did you know that the entire lime is edible, including the plant’s leaves? The leaves of makrut lime trees are often used as an herb to flavor dishes in Southeast Asian cooking.
Are limes healthy for babies?
Yes, when served in limited amount, limes are a healthy flavor booster for your baby.
Limes contain vitamin C, which helps our bodies absorb iron from plants and boosts our immune systems. However, limes also contain citric acid (less than lemons but more than grapefruits and oranges), which can be harsh on a baby’s developing digestive tract.5 The acidity of limes can also cause or worsen diaper rash, so avoid serving citrus and high-acid foods like tomato if your little one has a sore bum.
Be sure to thoroughly wash limes before preparing them for your baby. Like all commercially-grown citrus fruit, limes tend to be sprayed with pesticides and coated with wax (some natural, like beeswax, and others artificial, like petroleum) that help prevent bruising in the shipping process.6
Are limes a common choking hazard for babies?
Not when used as a flavor enhancer. However, citrus seeds and whole citrus segments pose a risk for young eaters. Be sure to keep an eye out for any seeds and remove the membrane of citrus fruits before serving to your baby.
Are limes a common allergen?
No. Lime allergies are rare, though it is not uncommon for a rash around the mouth to appear after eating acidic foods like grapefruit, lemons, limes, oranges, and tomatoes. For most babies, this is not a true allergy, but a skin reaction to the acidity. If this happens, pat your baby’s face and mouth with a wet washcloth after the meal. Try not to rub, which will further irritate the skin. If the redness does not subside within the hour, consult a pediatrician.
How to prepare limes for babies with baby-led weaning?
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.
6 to 9 months old: Keep it simple: add a squirt of lime juice to your baby’s meal. Lime will enhance any dish and introduce sour flavor—an important taste for little ones to explore as they develop their palettes. Try sprinkling the juice on fish, fruit, or steamed vegetables. Take care when serving lime segments on their own; it can be a fun taste experiment, but the fruit packs a lot of citric acid in one serving!
9 to 12 months old: At this age your baby may enjoy the fun of tasting limes on their own. To do so, offer a wedge of lime, seeds removed, and take the opportunity to teach them the word sour.
12 to 24 months old: Continue to incorporate lime into dishes as you like and serve wedges of limes (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.
Recipe: Limey Guacamole
- Lime juice
- Olive oil
- Wash the avocado and then using a sharp knife, cut it in half lengthwise around its pit.
- Break apart the halves, remove and discard the pit, and use a spoon to scoop the flesh from the skin.
- Mash the flesh in a small bowl then add a dash of fresh lime juice and olive oil. Mix well, and serve in a bowl that suctions to the table.
The acidity in lime balances flavor in all sorts of foods, from meats like beef and chicken; to fish like sardines and shellfish; to fruits like avocado and mango; to vegetables like butternut squash and cauliflower. Lime also pairs well with herbs like basil, cilantro, cumin, and mint.
- Plattner, K. and Perez, A. (2014). Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook No. (FTS-357): Economic Insight – Fresh-Market Limes. United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. Retrieved February 29, 2020
- Leafy Place. Type of Limes: Varieties of Lime Fruit from Around the World (With Pictures). Retrieved February 29, 2020
- Morton, J. (1987). Mexican Lime. Fruits of warm climates. Brattleboro, VT: Echo Point Books & Media. Retrieved February 29, 2020
- Spiegel-Roy, P. and Goldschmidt, E. (1996). Biology of citrus. Cambridge, UK; Cambridge University Press.
- Penniston, K., Nakada, S., Holmes, R., and Assimos, D. (2009). Quantitative Assessment of citric acid in lemon juice, lime juice, and commercially-available fruit juice products. Journal of Endourology, 22(3). doi: 10.1089/end.2007.0304
- Phillips, J. (2017). Why fruit has a fake wax coating. The Atlantic. Retrieved February 29, 2020