Feeding babies lemons

When Can Babies Eat Lemon?

Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors

In this Article

  • Introducing Your Baby to Lemon
  • Nutritional Benefits of Lemon for Your Baby
  • How to Prepare Lemons for Baby
  • Tips for Introducing New Foods to Your Baby

Lemons are well known for getting surprising and funny reactions from babies the first time they taste one. But are lemons nutritional for a baby?

While lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C, the acidity of the citrus might be hard on your baby's stomach. You should wait to introduce lemons until after your baby turns one year old so their digestive system is more mature. This will also reduce the likelihood of an allergic reaction.  

Introducing Your Baby to Lemon

By the time your baby turns one year old, they will have tried a ton of new foods. But that 12-month mark is a game changer for introducing new foods — like citrus — that were once no-nos. 

If your baby doesn’t like lemons at first, that’s normal. It can take a few attempts of offering a new food before your baby begins liking it. Plus, citrus fruits have a distinct bitter and sour flavor that may take time to get used to, so continue offering lemons on a regular basis.

Nutritional Benefits of Lemon for Your Baby

Citrus fruit is well known for having a high dose of vitamin C, and lemon is no exception to this rule. Vitamin C helps your baby’s immune system fight off illnesses. Lemons are also a good source of fiber and even contain potassium, calcium, and protein. 

How to Prepare Lemons for Baby

It’s important to peel lemons before offering them to your baby, as lemon skins can contain harmful pesticides. Once you peel the lemon, you can offer your baby pieces of the lemon flesh the size of your fingertip or mashed up to eat with a spoon.

Since the taste of lemon by itself may be unappealing to your little one, try squeezing the juice onto various foods to enhance their flavor. Using lemon as a seasoning for other foods is a wonderful way to introduce a new depth of flavor to a food they already love. Just make sure your baby has tried each individual food before to make sure they aren't allergic.

When your baby is sick, add a bit of lemon and honey to their water for a boost to their immune system. Plus, they get the treat of a sweet drink that’s similar to juice. Just make sure you don’t offer honey until after 12 months of age since it may cause a type of food poisoning called botulism.

Tips for Introducing New Foods to Your Baby

Before offering solid food for the first time, ask these questions:

  • Can my baby hold their head up independently? This is an important developmental milestone for eating solid food.
  • Is my baby interested in eating? Your baby may watch you eat with interest, or even try to grab your food and taste it. When you offer them a spoon, they should open their mouth to eat.
  • Can my baby move food to their throat? If you offer food with a spoon, your baby may push it out with their tongue first. This is called the tongue-thrust reflex. With time they will learn to use their tongue to push the food to the back of their mouth and swallow.
  • Is my baby big enough? Your baby should be double their birth weight and at least 13 pounds before beginning solid foods.

Offer a variety. As your baby starts to eat solid foods, they need variety in their diet. This helps ensure that they're receiving all of the nutrients they need and also helps expand their palate for new tastes. 

Normalize new foods. Once you introduce a new food to your baby and you've confirmed that they aren't allergic to it, try to offer it to them again at least twice a week. Not only does this familiarize your baby with the new food, but it can also help prevent food allergies. Additionally, when your baby is learning to eat, they watch you. Make sure you offer them the same foods the rest of the family is eating for encouragement.

Consider Allergens. By the time your baby is 12 months old, they should be introduced to each of the common allergy foods:

  • Cooked egg
  • Creamy peanut butter
  • Cow’s milk (dairy)
  • Tree nuts (such as cashew or almond paste)
  • Soy
  • Sesame
  • Wheat
  • Fish and other seafood

By introducing these foods early in life, you can reduce your baby’s chance of developing food allergies. Only introduce one new food at a time, and wait at least three days before introducing another so you can monitor your baby’s response to the food in case of an allergic reaction. 

If you notice your baby having an allergic reaction, stop feeding them that food immediately. If the reaction is characterized by swollen lips, eyes, or face; hives; or vomiting, call their pediatrician. If you suspect anaphylaxis, characterized by swelling of the tongue or difficulty breathing, call an ambulance immediately. 

Can I Give My Baby Lemon? (3 Concerns to Consider)

After seeing several cute videos of babies tasting citrus fruits, I wondered: Can I give my baby lemon? Lemons are good for you in many ways, but they do contain a lot of citric acids.

Whenever we introduce a new food to our baby, it’s essential to proceed with caution. Allergic reactions, choking hazards, and tummy aches can quickly occur. Lemons, in particular, require a cautious approach — so let’s see if they’re safe for babies.

Table of Contents

  • When Can Babies Eat Lemons?
  • Health Benefits of Lemon
  • Concerns About Lemon
  • Other Sources of Vitamin C
  • Keep in Mind

When Can Babies Eat Lemons?

For any new food introduction, I always recommend that parents just offer one new food at a time, ideally for 7 days for grains and 3-5 days for fruits and vegetables. By doing so, if an allergic reaction occurs, the parent will know which is the troublesome food.

Per the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, I encourage waiting until 4 to 6 months old before introducing first foods. At this age, the infant’s motor skills should be developed enough to tolerate spoon-feeding. This also gives the digestive system time to mature as well (1).

Editor's Note:

Dr. Leah Alexander, MD, FAAP

If your baby is around 8 to 10 months and isn’t showing sensitivities toward new foods, you can offer some lemon. You can begin by giving them a small piece or extracting some juice and diluting it.

However, the chances are your little one won’t be crazy about it. Babies usually don’t enjoy such a sour taste and tend to gravitate toward sweet, mild flavors.

When you give your baby the lemon, serve it either on its own or with a favorite snack they’re used to eating. Never offer it with another new food — if your baby should react, you’ll know the culprit.

If your little one enjoys the taste, you can continue offering them a small piece once a week. Lemon contains several beneficial properties. It also has a high level of acidity, though, so avoid giving it too often.

In clinical practice, I typically recommend introducing citrus foods (lemons, limes, oranges, tomatoes) at the 9-month-old well visit. At this point, most infants have been consuming cereals, other fruits, most vegetables, and perhaps meat or legumes.

Because lemons and limes have strong flavors that many infants do not like when eaten alone, I usually ask my parents to add the juice as “seasoning” to other foods he or she already has been consuming. With any citrus food, I caution parents that skin contact may cause a mild rash on the cheeks or around the mouth. In other cases, a mild diaper rash may develop.

Editor's Note:

Dr. Leah Alexander, MD, FAAP

Health Benefits of Lemon

For starters, lemons are low in calories, with approximately 15 calories for every medium-size fruit. They also don’t contain any sodium, fat, or cholesterol.

One average-size lemon can provide you with ten percent of the daily recommended intake of dietary fiber. They’re full of vitamin C, too, capable of delivering 40 percent of the daily required amount. Lemons also contain small amounts of magnesium, calcium, and vitamin B-6.

Lemons or rather, the vitamin C in them, can help the immune system fight colds. If your little one has a cold, you should still limit the amount of lemon you serve them.

What’s more, lemons contain something called limonoids, known for having cancer-fighting elements. In one study, it was found to reduce tumors, specifically in breast cancer (2).

Concerns About Lemon

Although lemons are good for you, that doesn’t mean they don’t have some potential downsides, including:

1. Allergies

If allergies run in the family, you should be extra careful about offering your baby some lemon. Allergic reactions are caused when the immune system mistakes a harmless substance as a threat to your body. Substances that cause this are called allergens.

If your little one displays sensitivity toward pollen or has a pollen allergy, they could react to citrus. The body can misidentify the proteins found in the citrus as the allergen. In turn, this causes cross-reactivity, and it will create a response similar to the actual allergen. The International Journal of Molecular Sciences discusses this phenomenon further (3).

It’s been shown that people suffering from grass pollen allergies are often at risk of citrus hypersensitivities.

During a prick test, approximately 39 percent of the people involved in trials developed reactions to citrus that resembled those of pollen (4).

Depending on your baby’s sensitivity, the symptoms can vary. Some may show reactions seconds after touching the fruit, while for others, it could take hours. So knowing the signs is essential before offering lemon to your baby.

Watch Out

If you spot any signs of an allergic reaction, contact your pediatrician immediately. If symptoms such as difficulty breathing, weak or rapid pulse, loss of consciousness, or swelling in the mouth occur, immediate treatment is necessary. Such responses are indicators of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction (5).

Symptoms are generally confined to the places on the body that come into contact with the citrus. This could be the gums, tongue, lips, throat, and diaper area (6). The symptoms include:

  • Itching.
  • Irritability, fussing.
  • Redness.
  • Swelling.
  • Rash around the mouth and in the diaper area. This is usually an area of flat redness without bumps.

Other symptoms also caused by an allergic reaction to ingesting lemon can include some of the following:

  • Coughing.
  • Sneezing.
  • Runny nose.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.

I always recommend that my parents keep Children’s Benadryl at home once new foods are being introduced to their infant. At each visit, I discuss the weight appropriate dose that should be given in case of an allergic reaction.

Food reactions are not subtle. They are usually associated with very obvious hives (a welt-like rash) that changes positions on the body, mouth and/or eye swelling, vomiting, and possible difficulty breathing.

Anything more than just hives warrants contacting a medical professional and, possibly, an emergency room visit. After such an episode, there should be a discussion about keeping emergency rescue injectable treatment in the home, daycare, etc.

Editor's Note:

Dr. Leah Alexander, MD, FAAP

2. High Acidity

Lemons are highly acidic. Too much acidity can aggravate gastroesophageal reflux, which may result in fussiness and poor feeding (7).

Even if your baby isn’t suffering from gastroesophageal reflux, it’s still best to limit the amount of lemon you give. Too much acid doesn’t sit well in the stomach — your baby could get an upset tummy. Acidity can also cause trouble in the diaper area, resulting in a diaper rash.

3. Harmful for Teeth

If your little one has begun to develop teeth, you should try to limit the amount of lemon they eat. Even when diluted with water, the high acidity is quite erosive and may damage their teeth enamel (8). Enamel is what protects teeth from extreme temperatures, biting, and grinding.

Babies and children who drink less lemon water experience fewer cavities, plaque, and tartar build-up. Because of this, your little one shouldn’t eat lemon slices daily. If you’re offering lemon water or juice, serve it with a straw — this will limit the amount of acidity directly touching their teeth.

While acid erosion is certainly something of which to be mindful, I clinically see more teeth problems from juice consumption, “gummy” foods or candies, and falling asleep with a milk bottle. In all cases, I discuss the importance of teeth brushing before bed and not offering sugar-containing beverages afterward.

Editor's Note:

Dr. Leah Alexander, MD, FAAP

Other Sources of Vitamin C

A common reason parents want to give their baby lemon is due to its high levels of vitamin C.

There are many alternatives, more baby-friendly foods containing vitamin C that will benefit your baby when included in their diet. You might already be feeding your little one some of the following (9):

  • Sweet potatoes.
  • Bananas.
  • Peas.
  • Kale.
  • Strawberries.
  • Watermelon.
  • Raw tomatoes.
  • Kiwi.
  • Broccoli.
  • Spinach.
  • Grapefruit.

How Much?

Babies aged one to three need approximately 15 milligrams of vitamin C a day (10). Vitamin C is water-soluble, so any excess amount is flushed out in the urine. However, if they eat more than 400 milligrams, it could lead to diarrhea, nausea, stomach aches, and vomiting (11).

Keep in Mind

While you can give your baby lemon around eight to ten months, it’s not the best idea. Lemons are sour, and your baby will probably not enjoy them. It is best to use them as seasoning for other foods he or she is eating. They also present a risk of allergic reactions, especially if pollen allergies run in the family.

The high acidity in lemons can cause diaper rash and an upset tummy. Giving your baby too much can also damage the enamel on their teeth. If you’re looking for a source of vitamin C, it’s better to offer sweet potatoes, strawberries, or bananas.

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Can children have a lemon? At what age can a child be given lemon

Lemon contains a huge amount of ascorbic acid, so it is an excellent tool for strengthening immunity. In addition, lemon juice has antipyretic properties, and lemon zest and juice have a pronounced antiseptic effect. And how tasty are salads and pastries with the addition of lemon juice or zest! When to introduce this most useful fruit into the child's diet, and in what form?

There is not a single parent who would not know that lemon is a source of vitamin C. Therefore, the question naturally arises: when can such a valuable and useful product be given to a child?

In addition to ascorbic acid, lemon contains a lot of citric and malic acids; phytoncides that have antiviral and antibacterial effects; pectins that regulate the digestive system; vitamins and minerals.

Possessing bactericidal properties and the ability to positively influence the immune system, lemon actually becomes one of the remedies for acute respiratory infections and flu. Also, lemon against the background of an acute illness is indicated at a high temperature as an antipyretic.

The presence of a large amount of vitamin C and other vitamins in lemon allows us to recommend it for the prevention of beriberi. Previously, it was widely used as a drug for the treatment of scurvy, a disease associated with a lack of vitamin C in the body.

Potassium and vitamins P and C contained in lemon contribute to the proper development of the cardiovascular system, prevent the development of metabolic disorders, urolithiasis.

Lemon should be included in the diet of children with anemia, liver disease, beriberi and micronutrient deficiencies. This product has proven itself well in frequently ill children, patients with chronic tonsillitis, adenoiditis, pharyngitis. Lemon drinks promote proper digestion and may prevent the development of dysbiotic changes in the gastrointestinal tract. However, care must be taken when including lemon in a child's diet.


All citrus fruits can give an allergic reaction, so they should be given gradually, following the rules for introducing products.

The increased acidity of this fruit can irritate the mucous membrane of the stomach and intestines, so you should avoid prescribing this product for gastritis and other stomach diseases with high acidity, pancreatic dysfunction, peptic ulcer, enteritis, colitis, exacerbations of inflammatory diseases intestines, with cholecystitis, hepatitis, acute nephritis.

If your child is not prone to allergic reactions, then it is advisable to include lemon in the diet for the first time at 2 years. It is better for allergic children to postpone acquaintance with this product until the age of 5.

In pediatric practice, it is not recommended to use it every day, as an excess of citric acid is harmful to the digestive system of children. It should be remembered that after the first intake of lemon, elements of irritation that are not related to allergic may appear on the skin around the lips. In this case, you should refrain from this product for several days.

Children also need vitamin D.

At what age can you give lemon to a child? ~

All parents want their children to eat exceptionally healthy foods. From the age of six months, the child receives complementary foods in the form of vegetables and fruits, and therefore it is imperative for parents to know all the subtleties regarding this issue. They should know what vegetables and fruits can be given to a baby, their beneficial qualities for the body and, of course, contraindications that can be harmful to a child.

Let's take a lemon as an example. How is lemon useful for children? When should you start giving your child lemon?

This product contains a large amount of all kinds of vitamins and fruit acids that have a positive effect on the body. However, experts do not recommend hastily introducing this fruit into the food of a child before the age of one year . The baby's body hardly digests citric acid. This is fraught with the manifestation of skin rashes and other allergic manifestations that adversely affect the health of the child.

Benefits of lemon for children

In limited quantities lemon:

  • Improves digestion.
  • Eliminates diarrhea.
  • Combats constipation
  • Good mouth freshener and disinfectant.
  • Perfectly copes with colds and acute respiratory infections.

A few drops of lemon added to a home-made drink helps to relieve the heat, quench thirst and improve body tone.

From what age to give lemon to a child

According to experts, lemon can be given to a baby from ten months old . By this time, the baby begins to perceive the sour taste of the product. Some may even like it.

Lemon juice can also be given at an earlier age (from six months). But this must be done with great care and in small quantities. For 250 grams of water with fruit juice, add a teaspoon of granulated sugar. These actions neutralize the acid.

Lemon supplementation should be started with a tiny piece and carefully monitor the reaction of the baby's body. For the next 3 days, do not give the baby any other new foods to determine the behavior of the body and its reaction.

After the first feeding with lemon, rashes around the lips and diaper rash may occur.

If there are no side effects, then you can give the child a small piece, but not every day. An excess of acid adversely affects the child's gastrointestinal tract.

How to feed a one year old child with lemon?

Before feeding, wash the lemon, remove the seeds from it and cut into small cubes. So there is little chance that the child will choke on the product.

Lemon recipes for children

Lemon for vomiting

Most often, a child vomits due to poor functioning of the gastrointestinal tract. It can also be caused by a nervous breakdown.

To avoid vomiting, we need: 1/2 teaspoon of fruit juice and one teaspoon of natural honey. All this is mixed to a homogeneous mass and given to the child.

Lemon during a sore throat in a child

Dilute two teaspoons of sour fruit juice and one large spoonful of honey in a glass of warm water.

With angina, it is imperative to feed the child with fruits and vegetables rich in fiber - it is required to remove toxins from the body.

Learn more