How to Introduce Watermelon
What fruit screams summertime? Watermelon, of course! Introducing new fruits like watermelon to your child is a time of wonder and fun. Here are some ideas for trying this colorful fruit with your littles.
Infants: No matter what age you decide to introduce this juicy fruit, be aware that some children may exhibit a common rash from eating melons. Although allergies to watermelon are extremely rare, they have been known to cause some digestive issues. If you see that your baby responds with a rash after eating watermelon contact your pediatrician.
Watermelon Strips: As a pediatric feeding + swallowing specialist, I recommend introducing strips of watermelon around the 7-month mark (after your baby has had a lot of practice and success with other foods that are easier to swallow). Since watermelon is so watery, it can easily cause coughing and choking when given to infants who have not mastered the oral motor skills of managing multiple textures of 1) the thin juice 2) the watery puree and 3) any flexible white seeds that you might have missed.
- Expert Tip: Slice the watermelon into strips that are the length and thickness of an adult pinky finger (or French fry shape). This shape makes it easier for baby to place it onto their gum line to better learn how to chew and swallow safely.
Watermelon Puree: In some cultures watermelon puree is one of the first foods they offer to their baby. Have the whole family enjoy this nutrient-dense fruit by offering it as a puree, a smoothie in an open cup or straw cup or as a popsicle.
- Expert Tip: Cut up a watermelon and slice off the rind. Throw it into a blender and strain it with a stainless-steel strainer. Once the liquid and the pulp are separated, remove all the white and black seeds. Serve this colorful puree to your baby.
Toddlers: One of the best ways to get toddlers to try new fruits is to make it fun and novel. Here are a few ideas for thinking out of the box with this fresh fruit.
- Fruit Bombs: I ate a lot of fruit bombs growing up, and I like to introduce these fun treats to toddlers, too, especially during summer! Watermelon is 90% water and filled with vitamins that can help battle the heat. Check out my recipe for watermelon fruit bombs here.
- Grated Salad: I have used a grater to shred watermelon, apples and pears into a thinly sliced fruit salad. This is perfect for toddlers who may be teething and can’t handle the extra salvia (associated with teething) plus the additional water from the watermelon if cut into juicy cubes.
- Cookie Cutters: Using different shapes when introducing a new food is ezpz if you have a cookie cutter. Switch out your cookie cutters to match the season, a favorite shape, cartoon character, or holiday! Watermelon is the perfect texture for making quick work with a cookie cutter.
- Popsicle Mold: Watermelon juice and pulp are perfect for adding into a popsicle mold. I also like to layer in additional fruits like lemons, kiwi, mango, limes and pear. If you want the popsicle to be thin, separate the puree (explained above) and use the watermelon juice with lemonade, chamomile tea or hibiscus juice to make a yummy frozen treat!
What are some of your baby / toddler’s favorite fruits? For more starting solids inspiration or picky eating assistance check out our blog. #ezpzfun #watermelon
Dawn Winkelmann (M.S, CCC-SLP) is ezpz’s Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist. She has 28 years of experience teaching parents and medical professionals how to start babies on solids safely and encourage toddlers to overcome picky eating tendencies. In addition, “Ms. Dawn” is the designer of our award-winning feeding products.