Introducing new fruits to your child is a time of wonder and fun. What new fruit screams summertime? Watermelon, of course! Here are some ideas for trying this colorful fruit with your littles.
Infants: In the feeding world, most would recommend introducing melons a little later than the 6-month mark (when we recommend starting solids). However, in some cultures they use watermelon as one of their first foods! No matter what age you decide to introduce this juicy fruit, be aware that some children may exhibit a rash from eating melons. Although allergies to watermelon are rare, they have been known to cause digestive issues and the swelling of a child’s airway. If you see that baby responds with a rash after the meal contact your pediatrician.
- Watermelon Puree: Since watermelon is so watery, it can easily cause coughing and choking when given to infants who have not mastered the multiple textures of 1) the thin juice 2) the puree and 3) the flexible white seeds. But don’t let that dissuade you; I have an expert tip to help you and your family enjoy this nutrient-dense fruit!
- Expert Tip: Cut up a watermelon and slice off the rind. Throw it into a blender and strain it with a mesh strainer (I personally use a stainless steel mesh strainer because it does not rust). Once the liquid and the pulp are separated, remove the black seeds and you can serve this beautiful puree to your baby. I like to save the juice and add it to a smoothie or to use it to thin out a thick puree.
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 might be teething and can’t handle all the extra salvia (associated with teething) and 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! And 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. Some of my favorite additional fruits to add to the popsicle are lemons, kiwi, mango, limes and pear. If you want the popsicle to be thin, then 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 watermelon inspiration, check out our book, Making Mealtime ezpz. #ezpzfun #watermelon
Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz