When Can Baby Have Citrus Fruits?
It is amazing how much nutrients and fiber an orange can pack, but for some kids, citrus fruits give rashes and hyperacidity of the stomach. Child-rearing entails a lot of patience, trial and error and false starts.
An act as simple as giving a slice of fruit can be harmful if not done right. What worked well for a child might be totally inappropriate for another kid. A lot of parents are wondering if it is safe to let baby eat citrus during his first months of eating solid food.
So when can baby have citrus fruits?
There is not a concrete recommendation available, even doctors and health professionals have conflicting advice with regards to when can baby can eat them.
I am not a medical authority on this subject so please take this as an advice from a mother like me who has been there and done that.
It is better that you seek your pediatrician’s advice but through this article, I will try my best to give enlightenment on this subject.
The Right Time To Introduce Citrus Fruits
What’s the big deal about citrus, you might say?
Yes, they are packed with all that fiber and punch. But in terms of introducing these juicy sour fruits, it turns out that there is a correct way.
Since a baby is still developing fast during this crucial stage, there is a proper time for certain foods. You cannot just let baby eat citrus as soon as he munch his first veggies.
I might seem an overly cautious parent but to be on the safest side, introduce citrus fruits only beginning at his first 10-12 months of life.
Why so, you might ask?
It is because if you let baby eat citrus fruits earlier than that, chances are his stomach is not yet ready. It might be that what seem as a harmless fruit can severely affect your baby’s health.
He might also have a hidden allergy to citric acid, and eating large portions of these offending fruits at the first time might trigger a life-threatening allergic reaction.
There is nothing wrong with being on the safe side of things, so let me discuss the why’s and how’s first.
Sensitivity And Allergy: Decoding Citrus Fruits Reactions
An allergy happens when baby’s body detects an “invader” and thus puts into action its immune system defenders. This is nature’s way to protect our bodies from a potentially deadly substance.
A person is said to be allergic to a component of food when his body is unnecessarily reacting to a food substance by producing systemic symptoms such as rashes, hives, facial puffiness and difficulty of breathing. Swelling of the tongue and lips, lightheadedness and even fainting may manifest.
That's not all.
Allergy might also appear as diarrhea, vomiting or abdominal pain that can be misinterpreted as gassiness. This is like your body’s defenses going overboard. It can get life threatening to depend on the intensity of the body’s reaction and the amount of allergic substance eaten.
How do you know your child is allergic?
To confirm whether your child is indeed allergic to citrus, your doctor can perform a series of laboratory exams.
A simple reaction meanwhile, is an immediate irritation of a body surface caused by contact with an irritating substance.
In the case of citrus fruits, irritation may be in the form of skin redness, itchiness, painful blisters and pain at a specific area. It can be in the form of a diaper rash or redness around baby’s lips and around the mouth.
Citrus allergy is common in adults but rare on children. But you can never be too sure that your child doesn’t have it. It's the same with citrus reaction; one can never tell if your baby is sensitive to it.
The only way to check is to introduce baby to citrus fruits. There is a proper way to let the baby have his first orange with less probability of getting a reaction. All it takes is the right approach and timing!
How To Reduce Reactions During Introduction Of Citrus Fruits To Baby’s First Diet
1. Begin small
At baby’s first try of citrus, begin giving it to him in small quantities. A tablespoon of orange will do.
Check baby’s reaction upon eating and then wait for a few minutes to let it go down his stomach. Does he look like he is uncomfortable? Does he squirms or seem gassy afterward?
Your baby’s first taste of citrus must be in controlled, small amounts so as to check for his stomach acid’s readiness to take in a highly acidic food. Some babies will digest it without issue while others might not tolerate the strong citric acid as easily.
As stated above, proper timing of introduction of citrus to baby’s diet is essential.
Do not let baby eat his first citrus if he is hungry, sick or is stressed. During those times when he is unwell, has a new caregiver or transitioning at a new home, he will be more sensitive to acidic foods and thus more likely to manifest unpleasant reactions.
2. One new food per week
During the week that citrus fruits were presented to a baby, do not introduce another new food type. Keep this in mind regardless if what you are planning to let baby eat is another kind of food.
If you are planning to let the baby have his first taste of mashed greens or starchy foods, reschedule it for next week. The “citrus week” will be all about giving the baby his familiar type of food, plus the new fruit.
This is especially important because untoward reactions against citrus must be distinguished immediately. If you give baby another new type of dish, you might not be able to tell which one caused the reaction or allergy.
3. Experiment with fruit mix recipes
Giving mashed fruits on their own is good, but it is even better if you can mix and match them to give your baby a better taste and experience.
What’s good about fruits is that their preparation takes just half the time as compared with cooking veggies.
You can mix and match fruits but avoid putting honey and minimize the sugar. Honey can sometimes cause infant indigestion and stomach distress.
Putting too much sugar on your baby’s fruit dish can mask the original sour and tangy fruit flavors, one thing that you will want your little one to experience in full.
If your baby enjoys his fruits just as it is, he will develop a taste for it and he will be a fruit eater for life. I can recommend a lot of simple recipes but the best and easiest to do are as follows:
# Orange baby sherbet
This recipe is so yummy, even moms will love it. This sherbet is perfect for hot weather, as an alternative to calorie-laden ice cream. Baby will also love the clash of flavors between apples and orange, since they are complementing each other’s taste.
# Orange and carrot puree
There is something about carrots taste that greatly improves the flavor of oranges. To be on the safe side, you can cook your fruits in low heat. This helps to neutralize the acids and making the fruit more digestible for baby’s sensitive tummy.
The detail about these recipes and more citrus fruits preparation suggestions can be found here.
Give your baby’s stomach acids some rest by alternating his daily fruit intake with some non-citrus fruit counterparts. Any seasonal fruits will do but banana and avocado are the most stomach-friendly and nutritious of the batch.
# Banana applesauce mush
This recipe entails some cooking since apples must be softened. This healthy meal is filling enough for baby’s breakfast or lunch. He may still drink his milk afterwards to complete his meal.
# Banana – avocado mix
This rich and ultra-nutritious recipe is filling enough as a meal. Baby will like the avocado’s creaminess and banana’s familiar sweet taste. Serve it on its own at lunch or dinner. You may also add in milk, oatmeal or cereal.
The detail about these recipes and a dozen other fruit combination suggestions can be found at here.
4. Try organic
You want the best there is for your children. In terms of nutritional components and absence of harmful chemicals, organic fruits are your best bet. Even the most tangerine and zesty citrus can have chockful of chemicals embedded at the fruit surface.
Sometimes, you can wash it off, but most of the time, you just can’t. There are also cases when your child’s allergic reaction is not due to the fruit itself but from the pesticides and chemical cocktail present at the usual supermarket produce.
If you can shell out a penny or two for an orange or lemon, try buying organic. Your baby deserves the most nutritious and the safest fruit that you can ever find.
Feed baby in smaller portions so as to prevent the incidence of choking.
5. Choose other fruits as vitamin C sources
In case your child is confirmed allergic to citrus, there are other fruits that might not trigger that allergy.
Let him munch on strawberry, blueberry, papaya, watermelon, cantaloupe, and mango and on vegetables such as potatoes, broccoli, and spinach.
But always avoid tangerines, lemons, limes, pomelo, grapefruit and mandarin; as well as the juiced version of these fruits.
But in case your child has a skin reaction to citrus fruits, forego strawberry and stick with fruits that are more on the sweet and starchy side.
6. Make a food journal
During your baby’s first foray into solid food, log everything on a food journal. Any notebook will do, as long as you jot down what is important. Take note of your baby’s age in weeks, the food introduced that week, as well as baby’s reactions to it.
You may also write down other observations such as when your baby had an incidence of gas, loose stools or an outright refusal to eat a particular food. This will come as a handy reference for you the next time you visit the supermarket.
You can also take this food journal during clinic visits, your baby’s doctor will appreciate your efforts on making his diagnostic work easier.
7. Read the food labels
Citrus juice can be found on a lot of food stuff, masked as a preservative, flavoring or an essential ingredient such as during baking. It can also be found in liquid medicines to neutralize taste, selected teas, some flavored drinks, and even in cereals.
Check the label if you are buying a food brand for the first time. Citrus ingredients are usually disclosed at the ingredients lists so take some extra time to read.
Keep Your Cool!
Every child is different, as they are equally special. Do not compare your child’s development and sensitivity with another kid. Even what worked just fine with an older sibling might harm your little one.
Your precious child is a unique individual.
As with everything, child-rearing is all about continuous observation and acquiring of valuable information. Uncertainty is a given for new and seasoned parents alike.
You may not be a perfect parent; you might make blunders along the way. It’s alright to ask a lot of questions. My advice is to look no further, just observe your child; you will sooner or later find your answers.