Giving Jaggery (Gur) to Babies

Jaggery

Jaggery, called Gur in Hindi, is unrefined sugar made from sugarcane juice or date palm sap. It is made by boiling the sugarcane juice or date palm sap until it becomes a thick syrup and then cooling it until it solidifies. It is used in both sweet and savoury dishes in several South-Asian countries, including India. Jaggery is used in India as a sweetener in baby food. This article explains in detail about the benefits and risks of feeding your baby jaggery.

Can You Add Jaggery to Baby Food?

You must be wondering if jaggery is good for babies or not? The answer is yes, but it must be used with caution. In rural India, doctors may recommend the inclusion of jaggery in food for babies less than a year old to combat anaemia as jaggery is a good source of iron. Thus, including jaggery in your baby’s diet depends on feeding methods, lifestyle, and individual preferences.

When Can You Introduce Jaggery to a Baby?

Jaggery should be introduced to a baby’s diet only after 1 year. However, this may vary based on the baby’s health and your doctor’s advice. Paediatricians recommend that babies should not be given any form of sugar until they turn one. For babies less than a year old, it is better to use various kinds of fruit purees to sweeten the food.

Amazing Health Benefits of Jaggery for Infants

Jaggery has several health benefits for babies although it is not recommended for babies less than a year old. Babies older than one year can be given jaggery. The health benefits of jaggery are:

  • Prevents Anaemia:

Jaggery is a good source of iron. 10g of jaggery contains 0.3mg of iron, which is 3% or the daily recommended dietary allowance (RDA). As a result, including jaggery in your baby’s diet can prevent anaemia which is caused due to iron deficiency in the blood.

  • Strengthens Bones:

Jaggery contains phosphorous and calcium which are minerals essential for the development of strong, healthy bones. Hence, consuming jaggery can help strengthen your baby’s bones.

  • Detoxifies the Liver:

Jaggery is an unrefined sugar that can help flush out toxins from the body. It cleanses and detoxifies the liver.

  • Increases Immunity:

Jaggery is rich in antioxidants and minerals like calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. It also contains vitamins B4, B5, B6, and choline. All of these together help in increasing your baby’s immunity.

  • Treats Symptoms of Flu, Cough, and Cold:

Jaggery has traditionally been used as a home remedy to treat symptoms of cold, cough and flu in India. Warm water mixed with a bit of jaggery is given to babies suffering from cold, cough, or flu. This gives the baby an immediate relief. Jaggery has the ability to cool the body down. Having warm water with jaggery brings down the body temperature when your baby has the flu.

  • Prevents Constipation:

Jaggery stimulates regular bowel movements, thus preventing constipation. It also aids in digestion by activating digestive enzymes in the stomach and intestine.

  • Eliminates Stomach Problems and Worms:

Jaggery cools the body down and soothes stomach aches. Jaggery also gives relief from worms and prickly heat rashes.

  • Provides Instant Energy:

As it is 97% sugar made of complex carbohydrates, jaggery takes more time to get absorbed by the body. It provides your baby with greater energy for a longer duration.

  • Helps Maintain Blood Pressure:

The mineral content in jaggery helps in regulating blood pressure and keeping blood pressure steady.

  • Good for Intestinal Health:

The magnesium in jaggery promotes good intestinal health and aids digestion. 10g of jaggery contains nearly 4% of the daily RDA of magnesium.

A mother feeding her baby

Risks of Giving Jaggery to Babies

Jaggery contains about 97% sugar. Therefore, excessive use can be harmful to your baby. The risks of giving jaggery to babies are:

  • Too Many Calories:

Jaggery contains about 38 calories per 10 g. As a result, excessive consumption of jaggery can result in the baby getting too many calories and causing an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes later in life.

  • Sugar Addiction:

Jaggery can cause babies to become addicted to sugary foods later, leading to diabetes.

  • Unfavourable Reactions:

Some babies may have unfavourable reactions to jaggery, such as rashes or stomach problems.

  • Cavities:

Excessive consumption of jaggery can cause cavities in your baby’s teeth.

  • Obesity and Diabetes:

Too much jaggery can cause obesity and diabetes in babies when they grow up.

Healthy Jaggery Recipes for Babies

Here are some healthy jaggery recipes for babies:

1. Sooji Halwa:

Suji halwa

Sooji or semolina is used to make a sweet dish along with jaggery.

Ingredients:

Sooji or semolina, jaggery, water, and cardamom powder.

How to Make:

Boil water with some jaggery in it. Roast the sooji in a pan until golden brown. Add it to the boiling jaggery water, stirring continuously until it thickens into a porridge-like solid. Also, add cardamom powder. Stir well and your sooji halwa will be ready.

2. Jaggery Syrup:

Jaggery syrup

Jaggery syrup recipe for babies is simple and easy to make. It can be stored for up to 2 months in the refrigerator and used to sweeten the baby’s porridge.

Ingredients:

Jaggery and water.

How to Make:

Melt some jaggery with one tablespoon of water in a pan on low flame. Sieve this into another pan and discard the lumps. Add 1 cup water to this and bring to a boil. Keep it on the heat for another couple of minutes and then allow it to cool. After cooling, it should look like a thick, golden brown syrup. Store this syrup in a refrigerator and use for sweetening baby’s porridge.

Jaggery has many health benefits for babies, although it is best to check with your paediatrician before including it in your baby’s diet. Giving your baby jaggery also has some risks, so it is usually not recommended for babies less than a year old. You can sweeten infant food using fruit purees like mashed banana, pureed dates, or applesauce.

Also Read: Salt and Sugar for Babies – Reasons to Avoid Them