As we browse the internet, videos of babies eating lemon abound. From babies eating it for the first time to those who are really used to it and consider it as a treat.
As much as those videos show funny babies’ reactions yielding comments from netizens appreciating those posts, some say that there is nothing funny about it. These create divided opinions among parents on whether lemon is good or bad for babies.
It is undeniable that lemon is nutritious, with myriads of health benefits for grown-ups and toddlers. But how about for babies? Will it be okay for them?
Precautions and considerations
Caring for babies differs from one to another. They have different levels of development. We can’t just give them anything that we think is beneficial for us adults. One of which is lemons. Yes, it can be considered a superfood for adults, but how about babies? When can we give lemon to babies?
Studies reveal that lemon slices and lemon fruits should not be given on babies below one year old. Take the following into consideration:
- Once babies started eating solid foods, they are excited about different tastes and textures. Because of the high content of acid, lemons can be too sour for them.
- If your family has a history of citrus allergies, the possibility is that your baby may develop it too. Be wary when serving lemons to your babies. Worry not, he can develop tolerance to citrus allergy when he grows up.
- Since babies’ digestive systems are not yet fully developed, a high level of acids in the lemon can aggravate gastroesophageal reflux or GER. This also causes stomach upset and rashes on the mouth and even diaper rash.
- It may damage babies’ milk teeth as the acid may cause tooth enamel to corrode. It can also lead to an increase in tooth sensitivity.
Benefits of lemon on babies
As babies turn 1, lemon slices can be served to them. As early as ten months old, lemon juice which is diluted and sweetened can already be beneficial to babies. Lemon, be it in fruit, in slices or juice should be taken in moderation. Here are some of the benefits babies can get from lemons.
Prevents mouth ulcers. Ulcers are open wounds that spread across the lining of the mouth (lips, tongue, gums) and it varies in size. Ripe lemon can cure babies’ mouth ulcers. Too much acid can cause more irritation so better dilute the lemon juice in water and add sweeteners like sugar for a milder concoction. For babies one-year-old and above, you can use honey instead of sugar.
Studies show that honey can cause botulism in younger babies that can lead to paralysis of the face, limb and respiratory tract that can lead to death.
Prevents scurvy. Scurvy is a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C. Since lemon is rich in vitamin C, it can counter this skin and oral disease. Lemon drink can be prepared by mixing two tablespoons of lemon juice and a tablespoon of sugar in a glass of water. This is effective to prevent scurvy.
Hydration. It hydrates the body and provides essential vitamins and minerals. Although it is common thinking that the tartness of lemon makes it seems acidic but lemon is one of the best alkalizing foods. Dehydration can acidify the body and delay recovery and lemon can counter this problem.
Relieves constipation. The acidic property of lemon destroys intestinal worms in babies that cause constipation.
Read also: Why do babies sweat so much when sleeping
Controls diarrhea. When a baby has diarrhea, the water level falls. Many experts suggest mixing a pinch of salt with lemon juice to help your baby recover faster and restore the body’s water level. Lemon is rich in pectin that controls diarrhea.
Controls vomiting. Indigestion and gastric reflux can cause vomiting. Honey and lemon juice are effective to control older kids’ vomiting. You can use sugar as a substitute sweetener for younger babies. You can also boil slice ginger in a saucepan for fifteen minutes, add lemon juice and boil for another fifteen minutes and add a little sweetener. This concoction is a home remedy for nausea and vomiting.
Boosts immunity. Lemon is rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that is essential for a healthy immune function. It can boost the immune system to fight bacteria and viruses that cause different diseases.
A remedy for cold and flu. Cold and flu are very common among babies. One effective remedy for it is giving older babies warm liquids like lemon with honey. It keeps the body hydrated and can clear mucus.
A natural expectorant. Studies reveal that lemons can dry up congestions. Lemon juice with honey is effective for older babies ages 1 and above while younger ones should not consume honey, as mentioned earlier. Instead, they can take lemon water. It also has anti-inflammatory properties to promote a healthy respiratory system.
Alleviate tonsilitis. Two teaspoons of lemon juice, when added to a glass of warm water and honey, is effective in treating tonsilitis. Omit honey and replace it with sugar for younger babies.
How to make homemade lemonade
Since lemon and lemon drink can cure many symptoms of different diseases, why not prepare lemonade for the whole family to enjoy. It is as simple as this:
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 4 cups of water
- 1-2 teaspoon of honey (for one-year-old and older) or sugar (for younger babies)
Put all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Let it cool and chill. You can also add mint leaves for added flavor. You can also adjust the number of sweeteners to your child’s liking. You can store it in a fridge for a whole day’s consumption.
You can even double or triple the recipe as toddlers and adults will surely enjoy it too.
Lemon is a very nutritious fruit, full of vitamins that babies need. In fact, baby-led weaning food includes citrus fruits like oranges and lemons. Always serve lemon on babies in moderation. Follow the precautions and consult your pediatrician to be sure that lemons will not harm your babies.