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The health benefits of papaya are undisputed. It is rich in antioxidants, and young and old alike can benefit from its anti-inflammatory properties as well as its immunity-building nutrients. This vibrantly-coloured fruit grows in tropical climates and is usually available all round the year. Their soft, fleshy texture also makes them a suitable ingredient in many recipes. Here is how you can make sure your baby gets all the nutrients that this delicious fruit has to offer.
Video: Papaya for Babies – Benefits and Recipes
When Can You Feed Papaya to Your Baby?
Papaya is a great fruit to add to your baby’s diet only after you have first started him on other food like bananas, avocados, sweet potatoes, and squash. They are all easily digested, and once your baby has tolerated them well, you can gradually introduce papaya. The best time to include papaya to your baby’s diet is around 7 to 8 months of age.
Adding papaya to your little one’s diet can help you enhance its nutritional value. A break up of the nutritional value of the fruit is provided below. Further on, we shall also take a look at the health benefits papaya has for your baby.
Nutritional Value of Papaya
A single medium-sized papaya can be a powerhouse of nutrients as it consists of Vitamins A, B and C, folate, magnesium, copper, iron, calcium, potassium, lycopene and phosphorus.
Take a look at the table to see the nutrients one cup of mashed ripe papaya has:
|Vitamin A – 2185 IU||Potassium – 419 mg|
|Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – .06 mg||Phosphorus – 23 mg|
|Vitamin B2 – (riboflavin) – .07 mg||Magnesium – 48 mg|
|Niacin – .82 mg||Calcium – 46 mg|
|Vitamin C – 140.1 mg||Sodium – 18 mg|
|Vitamin K – 6 mcg||Iron -.57 mg|
|Folate – 1 mcg||It also has small amounts of minerals like zinc, manganese, and copper.|
|It also has small amounts of other vitamins.|
Health Benefits of Papaya for Your Baby
Besides packing in a punch of nutrients and vitamins, there are plenty of benefits your baby can gain from eating papaya. However, the fruit is recommended only for the babies who have been weaned on to solids (7 or 8 months of age).
Here’s how papaya can benefit your baby’s health:
1. Boosts Digestion
The enzyme papain present in this fleshy fruit is useful in breaking down complex food structures. Regular consumption of papaya can improve your child’s digestion capabilities significantly.
2. Enhances Immunity
A baby’s immune system is not as developed as that of an adult, which makes them susceptible to infections and ailments. Vitamin C in papaya boosts your child’s immunity and helps prevent sickness.
3. Useful in Healing Skin Sores
The abundance of Vitamin A in papaya keeps skin protected from burns, ulcers, and sores. The pulp of this fruit can also be applied topically on minor burns and rashes. This will help reduce the burning sensation.
4. Improves Metabolism
The fruit is a rich source of folates, which are necessary for the production of amino acids. This can, to some extent, lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases in adulthood, and belly aches in babies.
5. Ensures Regular Bowel Movement
The fibre content of papaya acts as a natural laxative and can ensure consistent bowel movements in your baby. The use of papaya for constipation in babies is a time-tested remedy.
6. Gets Rid of Intestinal Worms
Two spoons of a mixture of dried and powdered papaya seeds combined with honey can help do away with intestinal worms. The seeds have an enzyme called cysteine proteinases, which can help get rid of intestinal worms.
7. Good for the Eyes
Vitamin A in papaya helps promote good vision and prevent problems such as night blindness.
8. Promotes Red Blood Cells
The presence of iron helps maintain good haemoglobin levels and a stable red blood cell count.
With all these benefits, papaya is sure to top the charts in the list of highly nutritional fruits for babies. However, parents need to take some precautions when feeding this fruit to their little ones. Read on for more information.
Precautions to Take When Feeding Papaya to Babies
As with any new food, you need to introduce papaya to your baby slowly and carefully. See how your baby likes the taste of the fruit and how their digestion is after consuming it. Start off with a small amount (one teaspoon) and slowly increase it over a few days.
Here are some more things you must keep in mind before you feed papaya to your baby:
- See that the fruit is ripe enough to consume. Unripe papayas can cause stomach aches and cramps.
- Limit the quantity to a couple of tablespoons since too much of papaya can also cause a belly ache in babies.
- Make sure to stop if your baby doesn’t like papaya or shows signs of discomfort or reaction after consuming the fruit.
- Ensure your baby doesn’t have latex allergies as they may be cross-reactive to the fruit.
Once you are sure that it is safe for you to feed papaya to your little one, you must carefully pick the fruit to create some delicious papaya baby food recipes, some of which we have shared below. But first, here are some tips that can help you choose papaya for your baby.
Tips to Buy the Right Papayas for Your Baby
The papaya you use for your baby food needs to be ripe and just right. Here are some tips for buying them:
- Don’t buy papayas that are green and hard because they will take time to ripen and may even get bad before that. Only those that have yellow patches on them when plucked off the tree will eventually ripen.
- Papayas that are ready to eat will have an orange colour with a little bit of red in it. It will be firm but soft when pressure is applied and will have a mild, sweet fragrance.
- Too much fragrance means the fruit has over-ripened and will spoil soon. If you are planning to use the papaya after a few days, then go for the ones with yellow patches.
Now that you are all set to choose the right papaya fruit, let’s take a look at some delicious papaya baby food recipes to add some variety to your baby’s diet.
Easy Papaya Recipes for Your Baby
Even babies need some variety in their meals, and this is why you should use papaya in different ways while cooking for your baby. Here are some great papaya baby food recipes for you to try out:
1. Papaya Mash
- One Ripe Papaya
- Peel and de-seed the papaya before you cut it into big cubes.
- Simply mash or make a puree in a blender till you get a smooth consistency.
The papaya chunks can be first steamed if you want them softened up a bit for quicker digestion.
2. Cantaloupe and Papaya Smoothie/Milkshake for Babies
- 2 tbsp natural yoghurt or 1/4th cup milk
- 1 tbsp diced watermelon or cantaloupe
- 1 tbsp diced papaya
- Cut the fruits into big pieces and put them in a blender.
- Add the yoghurt to make a smoothie or the milk to make a milkshake.
- The smoothie/milkshake can also be stored in the refrigerator for a few hours.
3. Fruity Breakfast Treat
- 2 tbsp oatmeal prepared in advance
- 1 tbsp papaya; can be pureed or diced
- 1/2 small banana, sliced
- Boil the oatmeal in some breast milk till it softens.
- Blend all the ingredients until you get your desired consistency.
- You can steam the papaya if needed.
4. Papaya Carrot Mash
- 1/2 cup cubed ripe papaya
- 1/2 cup carrots
- Steam the cubed papaya and diced carrot till they are soft.
- Mash the ingredients together.
- Your papaya carrot mash is ready.
5. Papaya Mango Puree
- 1/2 cup cubed ripe papaya
- 1/2 cup ripe mango cubes
- Steam the cubed papaya.
- Mash the papaya and the mango.
Papaya is a delicious and nutritious food when ripe. It can be eaten as is or used along with a variety of other fruits to make delicious dishes. Avocados, apples, bananas, peaches, carrots, yoghurt, and chicken are just some of the foods that go well with papaya in baby food recipes.
Disclaimer: Each baby is different as far as development goes, and this information is just a guide and not a substitute for medical advice from a qualified professional.