Introducing new foods to your baby is an exciting and fun time. You can watch them explore new tastes and textures as they learn about eating.
Oranges may seem like a healthy choice since they are full of vitamin C, but the acidity of the fruit might not be good for your baby's digestion and might cause an allergic reaction. To avoid a bad reaction, you should wait until after one year of age to allow your baby's digestive system to mature.
Introducing Your Baby to Oranges
By the time your baby is one year old, they might seem like an old pro at trying new foods. Or maybe they've learned to be cautious of new foods that taste different than what they're used to. Either way, have fun introducing a new category of foods to your baby’s diet — citrus!
Oranges have to be peeled before eating, and the membrane left around individual slices may still be tough after the skin has been removed. You can start out by offering canned mandarin oranges first since the outer membrane is softer and more palatable. Just make sure the canned fruit doesn't have added sugar.
If your baby doesn’t like oranges at first, continue offering them on a regular basis. You might have to offer a new food a few times before your baby begins liking it. Citrus fruits have a distinct flavor that may take time to get used to.
Nutritional Benefits of Oranges for Your Baby
Oranges are well known for having a high dose of vitamin C, which helps your immune system stay strong. But oranges also have other nutrients like potassium, folate, and thiamin. Additionally, oranges have high water content, so they help your baby stay hydrated.
How to Prepare Oranges for Your Baby
The first time your baby eats orange, cut the pieces up to be about the size of your baby's fingertip to prevent choking. Gradually cut the pieces bigger as your baby grows. If the orange is too acidic at first, try mixing it with other foods like yogurt. This helps cut the acidity as your baby adjusts to a very new taste.
You may be tempted to offer your baby orange juice, but be sure to check nutrition labels for added sugar. You shouldn't give juice to babies under one year old, and even if your baby is old enough, make sure to only give them 100% fruit juice.
Tips for Introducing New Foods to Your Baby
Before offering solid food for the first time, ask these questions:
- Can my baby hold their head up independently? This is an important developmental milestone for eating solid food.
- Is my baby interested in eating? Your baby may watch you eat with interest, or even try to grab your food and taste it. When you offer your baby a spoon, they should open their mouth to eat.
- Can my baby move food to their throat? If you offer food with a spoon, your baby may push it out with their tongue first. This is called the tongue-thrust reflex. With time they will learn to use their tongue to push the food to the back of their mouth and swallow.
Offer a variety. As your baby starts to eat solid foods, they need variety in their diet. This helps ensure your baby is receiving all of the nutrients they need and also helps expand their palate for new tastes.
Normalize new foods. Once you introduce a new food to your baby and you've confirmed they aren't allergic to it, try to offer it to them again at least twice a week. Not only does this familiarize your baby with new foods, but it can also prevent food allergies from developing. Additionally, when your baby is learning to eat, they watch you. Make sure you offer them the same foods the rest of the family is eating for encouragement.
Consider Allergens. By the time your baby is 12 months old, they should be introduced to each of the common allergenic foods:
- Cooked egg
- Creamy peanut butter
- Cow’s milk (dairy)
- Tree nuts (such as cashew or almond paste)
- Fish and other seafood
By introducing these foods early in life, you can reduce your baby’s chance of developing food allergies. Only introduce one new food at a time, and wait at least three days before introducing another so you can monitor your baby’s response to the food in case of an allergic reaction.
If you notice your baby having an allergic reaction, stop feeding them that food immediately. If the reaction is characterized by swollen lips, eyes, or face; hives; or vomiting, call their pediatrician. If you suspect anaphylaxis, characterized by swelling of the tongue or difficulty breathing, call an ambulance immediately.