You have been slowly introducing foods to your baby. But citrus has you puzzled and concerned. You want to share an orange, water with lemon, or perhaps a bite of your grandmother's delicious key lime pie with your baby. Surely you want your little one to appreciate these treats as much as you do. But when is it safe for your baby to have citrus?
Citrus and baby get together
By the recommendation of pediatricians around the world, it is not wise for parents to give their children citrus before twelve months of age due to the high levels of acidity. This is to help prevent your baby's sensitive skin from breaking out in a rash because of the acidic qualities. The high levels of acid can cause bad rashes on baby's bottom as well as around the baby's mouth, lips, neck, and face.
With that said, many parents have offered their younger infants tastes of oranges, orange juice, or other acidic fruits and have had no reactions. If you want to introduce citrus earlier than twelve months, talk to your pediatrician, then be on the lookout for possible reactions. Also, always start with a watered down rendition of a citrus fruit juice even after you get your pediatrician's approval. Squeeze some fresh oranges, add water, and let your toddler have a spoonful. This way you can slowly introduce citrus in 'light' portions.
Best beginning citrus
Many pediatricians believe babies over six months of age, who are chewing or gumming well, can try to eat oranges or tangerines. These fruits can be offered as long as the membrane dividing the segments of fruit and all the white 'pith' is removed. Of course, you'll want to get your pediatrician's go-ahead before you try this. Any large piece of food is a hazard for choking, so take precautions.
With that said, citrus fruits like sweet oranges or those with lower acidity are generally the best place to start if you want your baby to try citrus. Other great citrus fruits to start on are clementines and tangelos, and even sweet lemon when mixed with other food and drink. A can of Mandarin oranges is an easy choice for most parents. The fruit is clean, lower in acid than some citrus, and pretty easy to chew. You don't have to totally avoid citrus as long as you get your doctor's approval and are smart about how to serve them.
Citrus to avoid with babies
While there are citrus fruits you can begin to try and enjoy with your young one, there are also a number of citrus fruits that you don't want your child to try. Those citrus fruits with higher acid content such as limes and grapefruit should be avoided, in order to lessen the chance of reactions.
Normally, you can use your own taste buds as the judge. If a citrus makes you pucker, it probably isn't good to feed a baby under two years of age. If the fruit is very sweet, like Mandarin oranges, Sweeties, tangerines, or sweet oranges, it could be alright for your toddler. But, no matter what you assume, be sure to check with your child's doctor before you try a new food. And always be alert to changes in your child after consuming any food – not just citrus.
Food is an incredible adventure for kids. You'll want to introduce citrus to your child as soon as you can, but you want to do so properly and in a smart way. Simple things like cutting the citrus up into small pieces, removing the membranes and seeds, and making sure there is no pith attached, are things you can do. Then, after introducing any new food, wait at least three days before moving on to the next new food in order to monitor your child's reaction and have some idea of what's causing it.
Of course, you want your baby to experience all the pleasures of eating citrus. After a chat with your doctor, make a plan to introduce your baby slowly to a few varieties. Then get ready! I suspect you'll have a long, long future of making sure your kitchen is stocked full with beautiful fresh citrus.