How to Give Corn to Babies – A Definitive Guide

A baby eating corn

Corn, which is also called maize in many countries, is a delicious food known for its sweet taste, bright yellow colour and protein value. Because of this, you might think that it might be a perfect food to introduce to your little one early.



However, it is best to know all the health benefits as well as side effects of corn before proceeding to introduce it into your baby’s diet. Below we will discuss all that along with how to feed corn to your baby and what are the precautions to take while doing so.





Is Corn Safe for Babies?

First and foremost, corn is safe for your baby, but it is best not to make it a part of the first solid food. Corn contains a good amount of proteins and carbohydrates, making it a great energy food, but is lacking in many other nutrients. Also, due to reasons like the risk of allergies, indigestion etc., it is believed that corn should be withheld from the baby’s diet until he or she is at least one year of age.  If your family has a history of corn allergies, avoid giving corn to your baby until he or she can sustain it. Also if your baby has eczema, stay away from corn unless the doctor says so.

Nutritional Value of Corn

Corn kept on a wooden table

Corn is high in B-vitamins: thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid (B5) and folate. It contains dietary fibre, minerals, magnesium and phosphorus in moderate levels. The table below shows its nutritional values:




Nutritional value per 100g (3.5oz)

Energy 360kJ (86kcal)
Carbohydrates 18.7g
Protein 3.27g
Fat 1.35g

 

Vitamins





Vitamin A 9 μg
lutein zeaxanthin 644 μg
Thiamine (B1) 0.155 mg
Riboflavin (B2) 0.055 mg
Niacin (B3) 1.77 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.717 mg
Vitamin B6 0.093 mg
Folate (B9) 42 μg
Vitamin C 6.8 mg

 

Minerals

Iron 0.52 mg
Magnesium 37 mg
Manganese 0.163mg
Phosphorus 89 mg
Potassium 270 mg
Zinc 0.46 mg

 

Types of Corn

There are five different types of corn: dent, sweet, flint, popcorn and flour




  • Dent: Also known as field corn, dent is yellow or white. It is used in livestock feeds, processed foods and industrial products.
  • Sweet: Sweet corn is so named as it has a higher natural sugar content than the other types of corn. Dent has 4% sugar while sweet corn has 10%. It is consumed directly rather than being added to food. Hardly used as livestock feed, sweet corn should be eaten immediately after being picked, as 50% of the sugar turns to starch after 24 sugars.
  • Flint: Flint corn has a hard outer shell and is grown in Central and South America. It is either yellow or red.
  • Flour: Flour corn is the oldest type and is used in baked food items. It is usually white, and its kernels are soft and filled with starch.
  • Popcorn: This type is soft and starchy on the inside and pops up when heated. The moisture inside the kernel acts as steam that causes it to explode. Other types of corn can also pop but not to the same extent as popcorn, due to the high levels of starch and moisture in them.

Keep in mind that corn is not as healthy as other vegetables, fruits and cereals.

How and When to Introduce Corn in your Baby’s Diet

A baby eating corn

Corn can be given to the baby after six months of age when he or she begins eating solid food. To reduce the risk of allergies, you can wait till the baby turns one year old. It is also better to wait until the baby’s digestive system is improved as corn is fairly difficult to digest. Here are several ways you can introduce corn into your baby’s diet:





  • Make corn puree and feed the mixture to an infant. It will be soft and easy to swallow.
  • When your baby becomes a toddler of 18-24 months, you can start giving him creamed corn.
  • Once your baby is two years or more and develops teeth to chew, you can give him corn kernels to eat but make sure to check that he chews them.

If you have to choose between giving corn or nutritional food to babies, always choose the latter. Never substitute with corn as it is considered to be less in nutritional value. You can always introduce it as finger food in later months. Some tips for introducing corn in your baby’s diet are –

  • Don’t give your baby corn as a first food. Wait till he is enjoying a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and is comfortable with digesting them.
  • Choose corn ears that are tight and green. Avoid ones that are dry. Ensure that the corn kernels are bright in colour and plump, and not indented.
  • Both yellow and white corn is equally tasty. There are some new varieties in the market which stay sweet for longer, as the sugar in them takes more time to convert to starch.
  • Kernels may pose a major choking hazard, so until your baby is at least one year of age, avoid giving him solid corn.
  • Canned corn is less nutritious that fresh corn, which contains more protein. Make sure you check the ingredients of canned corn carefully and avoid buying those with added sugar and salt.
  • Prepare and eat the corn as soon as you buy it to prevent it spoiling. Until the time of consumption, keep it refrigerated as this slows down the conversion of sugar to starch.
  • Try starting off your baby with creamed corn as it is easier to digest. You can make creamed corn by pureeing the kernels in a food processor and using the right amount of water depending on the consistency you want to achieve.

Benefits of Corn for your Infant

Corn, when introduced in limited to moderate amounts, can be beneficial for your baby. Here are a few ways it is beneficial –




  1. Weight Gain: 100gms of corn has about 350 calories – a great energy food. If your baby is underweight, a corn diet can help him gain a few kilograms. Even a baby with normal weight can be given corn to help maintain his body weight right after you stop breastfeeding.
  1. Body Growth and Development: Corn is rich in a variety of minerals and vitamins which help in body development. For example, the kernels are rich in B complex. Thiamin which supports nerve and brain development. Niacin improves metabolism of sugars, proteins and fatty acids; and folate helps new cell development.
  1. Protects Blood Cells: Anti-oxidants in corn (which is in the form of Vitamin E) help protect cells from damage. Anti-oxidants also help prevent tissue and DNA damage in the body. Corn contains the phenolic compound ferulic acid which is anti-carcinogenic.
  1. Good Eyes and Skin: Yellow corn is rich in Vitamin A, a source of beta-carotene which is important for good eyesight. Beta-carotene is also an anti-oxidant which is good for the baby’s skin.
  1. Muscle and Nerve Function: Corn contains phosphorous (which supports bone health), potassium, magnesium (which are necessary for muscle and nerve function) and iron (which improves brain development).
  1. Improves Digestion: Corn is rich in fibre which acts as a laxative. If your baby has a digestion or constipation problem, corn seeds and corn flour can help relieve the problem.

Side Effects of Corn in Babies

Natural sugars in corn can turn to starch very quickly and hence are not considered very healthy for babies. The side effects of eating corn can include –

  1. Allergies

Allergies manifest due to the proteins present in corn kernels. Lipid transfer protein (LPD) is responsible for the allergies and stays on in the corn even after processing or heating it or post-digestion. The storage proteins and corn pollen present in the kernels are also potential allergens. Corn and corn-based products can both trigger allergic reactions like eczema and allergic rhinitis. Below is a list of some major corn-based products in the market –





  • cornstarch
  • baking powder
  • corn oil
  • cornflakes
  • corn tortillas
  • popcorn
  • vanilla extract
  • confectioners’ sugar
  • corn meal
  • mannitol
  • margarine
  • colour hominy
  • lactic acid
  • invert sugar
  • corn syrup
  • caramel
  • dextrin
  • dextrose
  • fructose
  • maltodextrin
  • sorbitol

Here are the corn allergy symptoms to watch out for in babies –

  • Skin rash
  • Asthma or anaphylaxis
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Headaches
  • Nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, indigestion, diarrhoea
  • Hives

If your baby exhibits symptoms of a corn allergy, do not panic. The first and most obvious step is to restrict corn and corn-based products from the baby’s diet. Store-bought food may contain traces of corn so make sure you give your baby only home-cooked food. If the symptoms are severe, take him to a doctor who can administer medication.




  1. Intolerance

Intolerance is derived from digestive problems and is different from allergies. If your baby has the following symptoms, it may mean he is intolerant to corn –

Intolerance can be easily cured as compared to allergies. Just stop including corn in your baby’s diet and feed him with lighter, healthier fruits and vegetables with plenty of water.





How to Select and Store Corn?

Once you know for sure that your baby is fine with corn and doesn’t have any allergies or intolerance with its consumption, you can go ahead and buy it from the market. Here are some tips to select the best corn in the market –

  • Select fresh corn and not canned ones, as eating fresh corn is the best way to consume it.
  • Corn kernels need to be plump and shiny
  • Husks protect corn from heat so buy corn with husks still attached
  • If the supermarket or store allows it, peel back the husk from the corn and check the quality of the kernels and the tip.
  • The tassels (the brown threads near the top) need to be sticky and glossy.
  • Purchase organic corn which is non-GMO
  • You can also buy frozen corn
  • Ensure that the husks are tightly closed and green. Dried husks indicate that the corn may be stale.
  • Press the corn with both hands to feel its firmness. Firm corn is fresh and has healthy kernels.
  • Corn needs to be away from sunlight and heat as the sugars in it can convert to starch easily.
  • Consume corn within the first three days
  • If you are buying canned corn, check the ingredients very carefully to see that there is no added sugar. Canned corn is less nutritional than fresh corn.
  • Store corn in an air-tight container and place them in the fridge.

Delicious Corn Recipes for your Baby

Corn is a versatile ingredient which can be served in various ways. From sweet corn soup to corn porridge for your baby, here are a few ways to prepare it so that your little one slurps it up!




1. Corn Puree Recipe

Ingredients: One cob of sweet corn, a teaspoon of water, breast milk or formula

Recipe


  • Run a knife across the kernels and get them off the cob
  • Put the kernels in boiling water and let them boil till they are soft
  • Add water or breast milk and make a puree. Add more water for a runnier consistency

2. Sweet Corn Soup Recipe

Ingredients: Fresh sweet corn, salt to taste, a tablespoon each of finely chopped carrots, beans, broccoli and spring onions

Recipe

  • Cook the corn cob and take off the kernels after they cool down
  • Keep a few kernels away for later use and puree the rest
  • Cook the other vegetables in a heavy bottom pan with a pinch of butter
  • After cooking for two minutes, add the corn puree, a bit of salt and boil
  • Add water for the desired consistency
  • Add the rest of the kernels and simmer

3. Pumpkin and Cornmeal Porridge Recipe

Ingredients: 1 cup water,1 cup milk, 1 cup pureed pumpkin, water as needed, yellow cornmeal as needed, one tablespoon brown sugar, ½ teaspoon ground ginger (optional), a pinch of salt.

Recipe


Add water, milk and pumpkin in a pan

  • In another bowl, mix cornmeal with water. Make sure there are no lumps.
  • Add cornmeal paste and sugar to the mixture in the pan, heat it and stir till it thickens
  • Add ginger and salt
  • Let it cook for 3-5 minutes
  • Serve the warm, corn porridge

4. Carrot, Potato and Sweet Corn Puree Recipe

Ingredients: 1 carrot, 1 potato, 1 tablespoon peas, 2 tablespoons sweet corn kernels, 4 tablespoons water and 1 teaspoon olive oil

Recipe

  • Oil a pan and sauté finely chopped carrot till it softens
  • Add potato, peas, sweet corn and water
  • Let the mixture come to boil and let it simmer for 15 minutes to make a corn puree

5. Corn and Cauliflower Puree Recipe

Ingredients: 1 cup chopped cauliflower, 1 cup yoghurt, 2 cups corn kernels, pepper as needed


Recipe

  • Cook the corn and steam the cauliflower
  • Puree both in a blender or food processor
  • Mix in yoghurt and pepper for taste

6. Corn Fritters (for a baby above 1 year of age) Recipe

Ingredients: 2-3 tablespoons of milk, 2-3 teaspoons of sauce, 1 cup of sweetcorn kernels, 1 cup of multipurpose flour, vegetable oil

Recipe

  • Mix the flour and milk to make a smooth batter
  • Add sauce and corn kernels
  • Add a thin layer of vegetable oil to the frying pan and spread small portions of the batter on it
  • Press them lightly while cooking and toss the fritters a few times

7. Maize, Apple and Sweet Potato Puree Recipe

Ingredients: 1 peeled apple, 1 sweet potato, 2 cups corn kernels


Recipe:

  • Cook the corn and steam the apple and sweet potato
  • Puree the three
  • Add some formula or breast milk to thin the consistency

8. Corn flour Cutlets (for a baby above 1 year of age) Recipe

Ingredients: 2 tablespoon corn flour, 1 boiled potato, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, salt to taste, pepper to taste, oil to fry

Recipe

  • Mash the boiled potato
  • Mix corn flour, salt, lemon juice and add a bit of pepper to it
  • Make the mix into small flat rounds using your fingers
  • Fry the rounds in a pan, tossing them now and then
  • Cornmeal usually mixes well with carrots, apples, peas, brown rice or rice meal which are all easily digestible

FAQs

1. Can your baby drink corn (Karo) syrup to cure constipation?

Karo corn syrup does not cure constipation. It does not contain the necessary chemical structure that allows liquid into the intestine and loosens stool. It used to be a common home remedy but is not an effective one.

2. Is corn syrup present in formula good for infants?

Corn syrup is an artificial sweetener and makes formula high in fructose content. It is only used to sweeten the product and hence should be avoided for infants. Not only will high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) cause the baby to be over-weight, but also accustom him to over-sweetened foods. This could make him eat only such foods when he grows up. What you can do, is check the ingredients in the formula before buying it and select the one that has low levels of corn syrup.

3. Is it safe to give cornflakes to a one-year-old baby?

Babies who are one year old and above can safely eat cornflakes, but it is important to choose one which has less salt. Rice flakes, oatmeal and wheat flakes have better nutritional value than cornflakes.

4. Can you give cornstarch to your baby?

Babies who are yet to develop teeth should not be given starchy foods like cornstarch. It is usually given as it can be easily swallowed. However, swallowing poses the risk of the food not being properly salivated, which may interfere with the baby’s digestion.

5. Is guinea corn good for babies?

Guinea corn, also known as sorghum, is rich in unsaturated fats, proteins, fibre and minerals like phosphorous, potassium, calcium and iron. It is high in starch, so if you are giving it to your baby, make sure to balance his diet with other less starchy foods.

6. Is corn puffs an ideal finger food for my baby?

Fruits and vegetable snacks are much more nutritious than corn puffs.

7. Is corn flour used for a baby rash?

First determine the kind of rash the baby has. Corn flour can soothe a non-fungal rash but helps the fungus grow if applied to a fungal rash.

8. Can you use cornstarch to treat a diaper rash?

Cornstarch supports bacterial growth so avoid using it to treat diaper rash. Instead you can use a baby powder.

Corn has various health benefits but it is also important to introduce it at the right time, right form and also in the right quantities to your baby’s diet so that you don’t have to worry about any adverse effects.