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Jaggery, called gur in Hindi, is unrefined sugar made from sugarcane juice or a 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 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 moderate quantities in the food for babies who are less than a year old. Jaggery is a good source of iron, hence it may help a baby fight anaemia. However, you must check with your baby’s doctor before including jaggery or gur in your baby’s diet. Including jaggery in your baby’s diet will also depend on feeding methods and your lifestyle
When Can You Introduce Jaggery to a Baby?
Jaggery should be introduced to a baby’s diet only after the age of one 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.
Amazing Health Benefits of Jaggery for Infants
Jaggery has several health benefits for babies – however, 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:
1. 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). Including jaggery in your baby’s diet can prevent anaemia, which is caused due to iron deficiency in the blood.
2. Strengthens the 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.
3. Detoxifies the Liver
Jaggery is an unrefined sugar that can help flush out toxins from the body. It cleanses and detoxifies the liver.
4. Increases Immunity
Jaggery is rich in antioxidants and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. It also contains vitamins B4, B5, B6, and choline. All of these together help in increasing your baby’s immunity.
5. 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 body temperature when your baby has the flu.
6. Prevents Constipation
Jaggery stimulates regular bowel movements, thus preventing constipation. It also aids in digestion by activating digestive enzymes in the stomach and intestine.
7. Provides Instant Energy
As it is 97% sugar and is 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.
8. 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.
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:
1. 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, causing an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes later in life.
2. Sugar Addiction
Jaggery can cause babies to become addicted to sugary foods later, leading to diabetes.
3. Unfavourable Reactions
Some babies may have unfavourable reactions to jaggery, such as rashes or stomach problems. If the jaggery has not been prepared properly and has impurities, it can increase your risk of getting intestinal parasites and worms.
Excessive consumption of jaggery can cause cavities in your baby’s teeth.
5. 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
Sooji or semolina is used to make a sweet dish along with jaggery.
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 form. Next, add cardamom powder. Stir well and your sooji halwa is ready.
2. 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.
Jaggery and water.
How to Make:
Melt some jaggery with one tablespoon of water in a pan on a low flame. Sieve this into another pan and discard the lumps. Add 1 cup water to this, and bring it to a boil. Keep it on the heat for another couple of minutes, and allow it to cool. After cooling, it should look like a thick, golden brown syrup. Store this syrup in the refrigerator and use for sweetening the baby’s porridge.
Jaggery has many health benefits for babies, but 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.