What is rambutan?
Rambutan is a tropical fruit that is native to Southeast Asia, where it grows ubiquitously on trees. Shaped like an egg with an inedible seed in the middle, rambutan has a similar flavor and texture as a lychee. Rambutan is encased in a tough, hairy rind that starts off green and turns red, orange, or yellow as the fruit ripens.
When can babies eat rambutan?
Rambutan can be tricky to chew (and to pick up) and while there’s nothing inherently wrong with introducing rambutan as soon as your baby is ready for solids, our opinion is that it is best to wait until after your baby’s first birthday. Safe preparation suggestions follow below.
Is rambutan healthy for babies?
Yes! Rambutan is packed with vitamin C and other antioxidants, plus it’s high in fiber, which helps aid digestion for babies who are beginning to replace breast milk or formula with whole foods. Rambutan also contains a fair amount of copper, iron, and zinc—essential nutrients that your baby needs to thrive.
Is rambutan a choking hazard for babies?
Yes. You won’t find rambutan on most lists of the top choking hazard for babies, but the fruit’s chewy, firm consistency certainly poses a risk. Rambutan must be prepared in an age-appropriate way before serving to babies who are ready to start solids.
Is rambutan a common allergen?
No. Allergies to rambutan are rare, though the fruit may trigger a reaction in people who have Oral Allergy Syndrome, an allergy that causes reactions to foods with similar protein structures to pollen.1 If you have a family history of allergies, or suspect your baby may be allergic, consult an allergist before introducing rambutan.
As with all new foods, introduce by serving a small quantity of rambutan and watch closely as your baby eats. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future servings.
How do you prepare rambutan 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 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 12 months old: Finely chop and fold into other foods, such as oatmeal. To cut the fruit, start with a sharp knife, and cut along the equator of the fruit’s rind and pop it open to remove the egg-shaped fruit. Cutting vertically, make one slice about halfway into the fruit and use your fingers to remove the inedible inner seed. From there, finely chop.
12 to 18 months old: Continue to finely chop and incorporate into other foods or thinly slice and serve pierced on a fork.
18 to 24 months old: Finely chop or thinly slice.
For more information on how to cut food for your baby’s age, hop over to our section on Food Sizes & Shapes.
★Tip: Foods that are difficult to pick up and not very filling may frustrate your baby. Serving rambutan on its own is not likely to satisfy your baby’s hunger, so use the fruit as a flavor booster in a more substantive meal (like cereals, oatmeal, or yogurt) or try offering it as a dessert.
Recipe: Coconut Quinoa with Rambutan
- Coconut oil
- Coconut milk
- Rinse 1¾ cups of quinoa in a colander in cold water in the sink until the runoff is clear.
- Heat a spoonful of coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the quinoa and stir to coat the grains.
- After a couple of minutes, add two 13.5-ounce cans of coconut milk. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the quinoa is fully cooked.
- While the quinoa is cooking, finely dice the flesh of 6 rambutan. Start with a sharp knife, and cut along the equator of the fruit’s rind and pop it open to remove the egg-shaped fruit. Cutting vertically, make one slice about halfway into the fruit and use your fingers to remove the inedible inner seed. From there, finely dice the white flesh and set aside.
- Mix the diced fruit into the cooked quinoa. Set aside a portion to serve to your baby, and store the rest in a sealed container in the refrigerator for future mealtimes. The salad will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Rambutan pairs well with other tropical fruits, like banana, coconut, mango, kiwi, and pineapple, but really the sweet fruit can balance any tart flavor (like raspberries and strawberries) in a dish. Try using the fruit to add sweetness to chicken flavored with ginger and lemongrass or pair it with flavorful nuts like cashews and pistachios for a heart-healthy snack.
- Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) or Pollen Fruit Syndrome (PFS). American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Retrieved February 18, 2020