When can babies eat honeydew melon?
Honeydew melon (also called bailan melon) may be introduced as soon as your baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Note: melons can be choking hazards when cut in certain ways and are notorious for harboring bacteria. Read carefully before introducing to your baby.
When shopping for honeydew melons, go whole versus pre-cut. Not only do whole honeydew melons provide a better value for your money, there’s a hidden benefit: they are probably less likely to contain harmful bacteria than pre-cut melon pieces.1 A whole honeydew melon typically weighs between 3 and 6 pounds and you’ll know it’s ripe when the blossom end gives a little when pressed. There are many varieties on the market—some round, others oval; some with orange flesh, others with green—but they are all as sweet as can be.
Honeydew melon, especially in the form of melon balls, is a choking hazard, so keep reading to learn how to serve this fruit safely.
Is honeydew melon healthy for babies?
Yes. Honeydew melon contains lots of vitamin C, which helps build your baby’s immune system, produce collagen, and absorb iron. Babies need lots of iron as they are starting solids, and serving honeydew melon alongside iron-rich foods like beans, lentils, nuts, or seeds can help their little bodies soak up the essential nutrient. Honeydew melons can also alleviate constipation in babies because they are mostly water, which moves things along in their little digestive systems. But don’t overdo it! Melons are notorious for causing diarrhea.
Once cut, honeydew melons should be stored in the refrigerator as melons are notorious breeding grounds for listeria, salmonella, and other harmful bacteria.2 For this same reason, always wash the rind before cutting into the melon. While it may seem dubious, washing the rind removes most bacteria that a knife can push from the outside skin into the flesh of the fruit.
Is honeydew melon a common choking hazard for babies?
Yes. Honeydew melon is firm and slippery—two qualities that can increase the risk of choking. The inner seeds are also a choking hazard for babies. To reduce the risk, slice honey dew melon into thin, wide, rectangular pieces and never, ever use a melon ball scooper when preparing foods for babies or toddlers.
Is honeydew melon a common allergen?
No, allergies to honeydew melon are rare. However, individuals with Oral Allergy Syndrome (also called food-pollen allergy syndrome) may be sensitive to honeydew melon.3 As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity on its own for the first couple of servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.
How do you prepare honeydew melon 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 12 months old: Start by removing the rind and seeds before serving. Now to the cut. At this stage, there are two ways to do it: rectangles that are approximately the thinness and width of ruler, or thin, half-moon shapes that your baby can hold like a handle. To encourage self-feeding, hand a piece in the air for your baby to grab.
12 to 18 months old: Ruler thin slices or crescent half-moons are the way to go. At this age babies tend to shovel food into their mouths as they get confident and thin, long pieces help slow things down and encourage them to take bites. Remember: never use a melon ball scooper when preparing food for babies or toddlers.
18 to 24 months old: At this age, many toddlers may be ready to handle large wedges of melon with the rind on. Just make sure to wash the outside rind before cutting into the melon and remove any lingering seeds.
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
Save the seeds! Honeydew melon seeds are edible and nutritious, and while they’re a choking hazard for babies, they’re a great snack for adults. Roast them in a little olive oil and sprinkle on your next salad.
Recipe: Honeydew Melon & Mint Salad
- 1 whole honeydew melon
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint
- 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt or coconut cream (optional)
Wash the melon rind and pat it dry. Cut the melon in half and scoop out the seeds. Wrap one half in plastic wrap or place in a sealed container and store in the fridge for future meals.
Cut the other half into thin half-moon slices. Remove the rind from each piece and transfer to a mixing bowl. Note: For toddlers 18 months and up you may want to cut into bite-size pieces to serve more as a cubed salad. Just take caution with this approach as melon is a choking hazard.
Mince the mint and transfer to the bowl with the melon. Gently stir to coat. Add Greek yogurt or coconut cream if you’d like to thicken the dish, which helps babies who are learning to eat with utensils.
Serve in a bowl that suctions to the table. Encourage your baby to hand-scoop or practice eating with utensils by pre-loading a fork and placing it on the edge of the bowl.
The sweetness of honeydew melon pairs with hearty nuts like almonds or cashews; light proteins like chicken or fish; and tart fruits like citrus, green grapes, or strawberries. Honeydew melon also pairs well with its cousins in the gourd family: cantaloupe and cucumber. Try adding layers of flavor with ginger or herbs like basil, lemongrass, or mint.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Food Safety Alert: Salmonella Infections Linked to Pre-Cut Melon. Retrieved June 15, 2020
- Walsh, K. A., Bennett, S. D., Mahovic, M., & Gould, L. H. (2014). Outbreaks associated with cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew in the United States, 1973-2011. Foodborne pathogens and disease, 11(12), 945–952. doi: 10.1089/fpd.2014.1812 Retrieved June 15, 2020
- Figueredo, E., Cuesta-Herranz, J., De-Miguel, J., Lázaro, M., Sastre, J., et al. (2003). Clinical characteristics of melon (Cucumis melo) allergy. Annals of allergy, asthma & immunology: official publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, 91(3), 303–308. doi: 10.1016/s1081-1206(10)63534-x Retrieved June 15, 2020