Citrus Foods and Baby

My in-laws are watching my 5-month-old son while I work. I just found out they’ve been giving him a dab of juice from an orange. (They say he likes it.) Isn’t it bad to give a baby that young something as acidic as orange juice?

Dr. Greene’s Answer:

I love teaching babies the vibrant flavors of real fruits and vegetables. Once an otherwise healthy baby has reached 4 to 6 months, there is no food we need to delay for fear of allergies. And if kids are fine with spicy or acidic foods, it’s fine for them to have some.

A dab of juice from a ripe orange is particularly wonderful because it teaches babies that great flavors come from produce. They see the bright color of the orange (color vision comes in at about this age); they can touch the texture of the orange skin; and smell the fresh-squeezed aroma as the drop of liquid-sunshine flavor bursts on the tongue.

I don’t like teaching babies to drink juice from a bottle, though. Most of the calories during the first year come from breast milk or formula. And, once kids have started solids, it’s great to teach kids to enjoy water as a refreshing beverage. Beyond this, I prefer avoiding teaching them to enjoy sweet or calorie-laden drinks in the bottle, even fruit juice.

Photo credit: Kristen Kaethler

Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.

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