What You Must Know Before Giving Oranges to Babies

two satsuma mandarins under a heading of What You Must Know Before Giving Citrus to Babies

Citrus season is upon us and while you should absolutely introduce mandarins, oranges, and other citrus fruits to your baby, I want to make sure you know that all citrus fruits are choking hazards. 

Choking risk generally increases when a food is one or more of these things:

  • Firm
  • Round 
  • Slippery

But oranges aren’t super firm—nothing like a raw carrot…

And they are kind of round, but nothing like a grape or blueberry… 

And oranges aren’t super slippery…

So what gives? 

It’s the membrane.

It’s the membrane that encapsulates the fruit that increases the choking risk.

So, if you want to serve citrus to your baby, you have three choices:

  1. You can “supreme” the fruit to remove each section from the surrounding membranes.
  2. You can serve large wedges with the rind on (make sure you wash to reduce any pesticide exposure)
  3. You can serve canned mandarin oranges, which already have the membrane removed.

Unfortunately, none of the above appealed to me with young babes because the first one is time-consuming, the second one risks the baby eating the peel if they have the ability to bite, and the third one involves a chemical processing to remove the membrane. (Mandarin orange membranes are melted away by soaking the oranges in food-grade lye.) Non food-grade lye, by the way, is in Drano.

Okay, so while I don’t love any of the 3 options I found supreming to be the most efficient in terms of getting fruit in the belly. So let’s talk how to supreme an orange. Here’s how:

  1. Remove the peel
  2. Supreme the citrus to remove fruit from the membranes
  3. Remove any seeds

Now, if I only had one kid and a good long nap each day, you know what I’d do? Buy a ton of Satsuma mandarins in December, supreme them all in one sitting while watching a movie during naptime, and then can them in the instapot. Citrus preserves safely at home and you can use your Instapot for canning process. Then you can just reach for the jar on the shelf every other week and pat yourself on the back. 

How to Supreme Oranges for Babies

Chef Bruna Chaves supremes an orange for Solid Starts. To follow Chef Chaves, see @brunachaveschef on Instagram.
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