Baby's First Foods: Are Citrus Fruits Safe for Baby?

My sister gave her baby grapefruit and orange wedges to chew on. Is this a safe snack for babies?

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

It is best to hold off on introducing citrus fruits until your baby is at least one year old. Citrus fruits commonly cause allergies or food-sensitivity reactions, such as a diaper rash.

Because of the potential for an allergic reaction, when you do introduce oranges, grapefruits and other citrus foods, do so gradually, beginning with small amounts served over the course of several days. Monitor your child for symptoms such as hives, rashes or wheezing. If you think your child is allergic, avoid all citrus fruits including tomatoes and strawberries. Hold off on citrus juices as well.

Young children also have problems eating citrus fruits due to the membrane. Peeling away the stubborn membrane can be a laborious task. You may find that serving canned mandarin oranges is the best first citrus to introduce because the membranes are tender and more easily chewed.

Once your child is past the critical age for introducing potentially allergenic food, adding citrus as a snack is great idea. Citrus fruits are full of vitamin C. There is no need to worry that your baby can't get enough vitamin C without them. There are plenty of other, baby-friendly foods that provide vitamin C. Some delicious, vitamin C-rich foods that baby can enjoy include baked potatoes, tender cooked broccoli, spinach and cabbage. Many babies enjoy ripe papaya or cantaloupe, both of which are high in vitamin C and A. Under the age of one, a baby needs 35 milligrams of vitamin C each day.

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