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Almonds are known for their health benefits as they contain fibre, minerals, and essential fatty acids. They also have an enjoyable taste which makes them popular with adults and children alike. When it comes to babies, however, it’s a different matter altogether as almonds can be hard to chew. But there are other ways in which you can provide your child with his daily dose of almonds instead of depriving him of the nutritional benefits this small nut has to offer.
Health Benefits of Almonds for Infants
Almonds come in two varieties – sweet and bitter. Sweet almonds are the more popular variety, especially when consuming raw. The latter variety does not taste bitter but is preferred for cooking purposes instead of snacking. Both varieties offer numerous health benefits.
1. Boosts Brain Function
The nutrients in almonds are essential for your baby’s brain development. The riboflavin and L-carnitine present in almonds stimulate brain activity. Almonds also improve intelligence levels and help keep Alzheimer’s disease at bay in old age.
2. Regulates Cholesterol and Diabetes
Though babies do not need to be concerned with cholesterol or sugar levels, consuming almonds at an early age can prove beneficial when older. Almonds are useful in keeping cholesterol and sugar levels down due to the abundance of Vitamin E and a low glycaemic index. But make sure the nuts are not salty or sugar-coated.
3. Aids Digestion
The high amount of fibre present in almonds can prevent constipation and help strengthen the digestive system in babies by regulating bowel movements.
4. Strengthens Bones and Teeth
The presence of the right amount of phosphorus in almonds enhances your baby’s bones and teeth as he grows. The medicinal properties of almonds also help prevent osteoporosis later in life.
5. Improves Immunity
The antioxidants present in almonds and their general alkaline nature help rid the body of toxins, thus boosting your child’s immunity significantly.
The presence of certain essential fatty acids gives almonds excellent anti-inflammatory properties that ensure your child’s good health well into adulthood.
Nutritional Value of Almonds
Each raw almond has about seven calories and is rich in proteins and dietary fibre. They are considered good for skin, hair, and overall health.
Nutritional Value Per 100 g of Almonds
|Vitamin E||26 mg|
|Vitamin A||1 IU|
Side-Effects and Risks of Almonds
Giving your child almonds in moderation every day does not carry any risk. However, you should find out if your child is allergic to nuts.
- A family history of nut allergies can make your child vulnerable to reactions, which can also turn life-threatening.
- Almonds can be hard for babies to chew on and pose a risk of choking.
- Eating too many almonds can cause gastrointestinal problems such as abdominal bloating as the body will be required to process significant amounts of dietary fibre.
So, which kind of nuts can your child be allergic to? Aside from almonds, here’s the list:
- Brazil nuts
- Cashew nuts
It’s important to remember these before starting off with introducing these to your baby.
How to Include Almonds in Your Baby’s Food
Eating raw almonds can be difficult for young children, but there are other ways in which you can ensure your baby gets his daily quota of almonds. You can soak the almonds in water overnight and peel them before crushing them into a fine powder or paste. You can then use them in different recipes.
Quick Almond Recipes for Babies
Babies should be exclusively breastfed or formula fed until they are at least a year old. Other types of milk can be introduced once your baby turns one. Cow’s milk and almond milk are some options that you can get your baby to try.
1. Homemade Almond Milk
Almond milk is low in proteins and calcium as compared to cow’s milk. Almond milk for babies who are 1-year-old or more is recommended especially if the child is allergic to dairy. If you buy ready-to-drink almond milk, make sure it is fortified with calcium and does not contain high levels of sugar. You can also make almond milk at home as a way to include the richness of almonds in your baby’s diet:
- 5-6 almonds
- 1 cup of water
- A date to add sweetness
- Saffron (optional)
- Cardamom (optional)
Soak the almonds in water overnight. In the morning, peel off the skin and blend it with some of the water until smooth. Add the date, saffron and cardamom and mix again. Use a strainer or a cheesecloth to clean the milk from any remaining solid particles, and transfer the clean milk into a bottle. Feed your baby this ready almond milk whenever required.
2. Apple-Almond Puree
- One apple, sliced
- 2 tsp almond powder
- Water as required
Cook the apples in some water until they soften. Add the almond powder to the softened apple mixture and bring to a boil. Cool the mixture and blend until smooth, or make a rough mix with a few soft lumps for older babies.
3. Wheat Almond Pancakes
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp almond powder
- Water as required
- Dates/sugar/jaggery for sweetness
- Ghee for frying
Mix the flour, sweetener of choice and almond powder in a bowl and add water until you get a batter-like consistency. Make sure there are no lumps. Heat a pan and add some ghee to it. Pour out the mixture on the pan and let both sides cook completely. Serve hot.
As with all nuts, it is essential to watch for signs of allergies when introducing your child to almonds. Once you are sure that there are no adverse reactions, include this nutrient-rich dry fruit in your child’s diet in a variety of ways.
Resources and References: Wholesome Baby Food
Also Read: Almond Oil for Baby Massage