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Corn, which is also called maize in many countries, is a delicious food known for its sweet taste, bright yellow colour and protein content. 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 introducing it to your baby’s diet. In this article, we will discuss what care needs to be taken while introducing corn to the baby, and the ways you can feed it to him. Read on to know more.
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 very first diet you plan for your baby while introducing him/her to solid foods. Corn contains a good amount of proteins and carbohydrates, making it great energy food, but it lacks many other nutrients. Also, there is a risk of allergies, and your baby could also suffer from indigestion. That’s precisely the reason why most believed corn should be withheld from the baby’s diet until he or she is at least a year old. If your family has a history of corn allergies, you must avoid giving corn to your baby until you are completely sure that he/she can sustain it. Corn is also a big no-no for certain conditions like eczema. It is always recommended that you include corn into your baby’s diet only after a certain age and after consulting a medical practitioner.
Nutritional Value of Corn
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 per 100 g (3.5oz) of corn.
|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|
Types of Corn
When your baby is old enough to have corn, you need to know which type of corn is most suitable for him/her. Here’s a quick summary of the five types of corn you’ll find in the market: dent, sweet, flint, popcorn and flour.
Before we proceed, we’d like you to know that corn is not as healthy as other vegetables, fruits and cereals. So, even if you make it a part of your baby’s diet, it is not an alternative to the other vegetables that provide much more nutrition to your baby.
Different Types of Corn:
- Dent: Also known as field corn, dent corn is yellow or white. It is used in livestock feeds, processed foods and industrial products. The reason why it is called dent corn is that the kernels develop dents after drying.
- Sweet: Sweet corn is named so because it has a higher natural sugar content than the other types of corn. It is consumed directly rather than being added to food. Hardly used as livestock feed, sweet corn should be eaten immediately after being picked.
- Flint: Flint corn has a hard outer shell and is grown in Central and South America. Its colourful kernels distinguish this type of corn from the other corns.
- Flour: Flour corn is the oldest type of corn and is used to make flour. 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.
How and When to Introduce Corn Into Your Baby’s Diet
Corn can be given to babies after eight months of age. By that age, they would have been introduced to solids already. However, to reduce the risk of allergies, you can wait until the baby turns one year old. It is also better to wait until the baby’s digestive system has improved as corn is fairly difficult to digest.
- Make a soft corn puree and feed the mixture to your baby.
- When your baby turns 2 years old, you can start giving him/her creamed corn.
- When your baby can chew food, you can give him/her corn kernels to eat. Ensure your baby chews them properly.
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 have less nutritional value. You can always introduce corn as finger food when your baby is older.
Tips for Introducing Corn Into Your Baby’s Diet
- Don’t give your baby corn as one of his/her first food. Wait till your baby is enjoying a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and can comfortably digest them.
- Choose corn ears that are tight. Avoid the ones that are dry. Ensure that the corn kernels are bright in colour, 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 avoid feeding corn until your baby is at least one year old.
- Canned corn is less nutritious than 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 purchase it to prevent it from getting spoiled.
- Try starting 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 to get your preferred consistency.
Though corn is not as nutritious as many other vegetables or fruits, it does have some benefits. Let’s take a look at them.
Benefits of Corn for Your Infant
Corn, when introduced in limited to moderate amounts, can be beneficial for your baby in the following ways:
- Weight Gain: 100gms of corn has about 350 calories – 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/her bodyweight right after you stop breastfeeding.
- Body Growth and Development: Corn is rich in a variety of minerals and vitamins which are essential for your baby’s development. The kernels are rich in B complex and have the following health benefits:
- Thiamin supports nerve and brain development.
- Niacin improves metabolism of sugars, proteins and fatty acids.
- Folate helps new cell development.
- Protects Blood Cells: The antioxidants in corn (which is present in the form of Vitamin E) help protect cells from damage. Antioxidants also help prevent tissue and DNA damage in the body.
- 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 antioxidant which is good for the baby’s skin.
- Muscle and Nerve Function: Corn contains phosphorous (which supports bone health), potassium, and magnesium (which are necessary for muscle and nerve function.
- Improves Digestion: Corn is rich in fibre and aids digestion. If your baby suffers from constipation, corn seeds and cornflour can help relieve the problem.
Corn also has some side effects, most of which occur due to excessive consumption. Let’s find out what they are.
Side Effects of Corn in Babies
The natural sugars in corn can turn to starch very quickly and hence are not considered very healthy for babies. These sugars also cause side effects in babies. Here are some of them:
Allergies manifest due to the proteins present in corn kernels. Lipid transfer protein (LPD) is responsible for corn allergies. LPD remains in the corn even after processing and heating it. 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 that could trigger allergies if your baby is allergic to corn.
- Baking powder
- Corn oil
- Corn tortillas
- Vanilla extract
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Lactic acid
- Invert sugar
- Corn syrup
Here are the corn allergy symptoms to watch out for in babies –
- Skin rash
- Asthma or anaphylaxis
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Stomach cramps
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.
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.
- Stomach pain
Intolerance can be easily cured as compared to allergies. Just stop including corn in your baby’s diet and feed him lighter, healthier fruits and vegetables with plenty of water.
Once you know for sure that your baby is fine with corn and doesn’t have any allergies or intolerance towards it, you can go ahead and buy some corn from the market. But, if it is your first time buying corn, here’s how you should select your corn. In the article below, we have also provided some delicious corn recipes that you can make for your little one.
How to Select and Store Corn?
Here are some tips for selecting 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
- One cob of sweet corn
- A teaspoon of water
- 1/2 cup of breast milk
- 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 if required to make a runny consistency puree.
2. Sweet Corn Soup Recipe
- 1/2 fresh sweet corn cob
- Salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped carrots
- 1 tablespoon beans
- 1 tablespoon broccoli
- 1 tablespoon spring onions
- Cook the corn cob and take off the kernels after they cool down.
- Cook the other vegetables in a heavy bottom pan.
- Puree the vegetables and the corn.
- Boil the puree mixture.
- Add salt and water as required
- Feed this soup to your baby when it cools down to room temperature.
3. Pumpkin and Cornmeal Porridge Recipe
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup pureed pumpkin
- Water as needed
- 1 teaspoon yellow cornmeal
- One tablespoon brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
- A pinch of salt
- Boil the pumpkin in some water.
- Add milk to the pumpkin and let it simmer for a minute.
- Add enough water as required.
- 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
- Cool the porridge down before feeding your baby
4. Carrot, Potato and Sweet Corn Puree Recipe
- 1 carrot
- 1 potato
- 1 tablespoon green peas
- 2 tablespoons sweet corn kernels
- 4 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Heat some oil in a pan and sauté finely chopped carrot till they soften.
- Add potato, peas, sweet corn and water.
- Let the mixture come to a boil and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
- Let it cool and make a puree.
5. Corn and Cauliflower Puree Recipe
- 1 cup chopped cauliflower
- 1 cup yoghurt
- 2 cups corn kernels
- Pepper (optional)
- Salt to taste
- Cook the corn and steam the cauliflower.
- Puree both in a blender or a food processor.
- Mix yoghurt, salt and pepper for taste.
6. Corn Pancakes (for a baby above 1 year of age)
- 2-3 tablespoons of milk
- 1 cup of sweetcorn kernels
- 1 cup of multipurpose flour
- Vegetable oil
- Salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon chilly powder (optional)
- Mix the flour and milk to make a smooth batter.
- Add the spices and corn kernels.
- Put a teaspoon of vegetable oil to the frying pan and spread small portions of the batter on it.
- Press them slightly while cooking.
- Flip them to cook on both sides.
- You can feed the pancakes with some honey.
7. Maize, Apple and Sweet Potato Puree Recipe
- 1 peeled apple
- 1 sweet potato
- 2 cups corn kernels
- 2 to 3 tablespoon breast milk
- Cook the corn, steam the apple and sweet potato and puree them together.
- Add some breast milk to thin the consistency.
8. Corn flour Cutlets (for a baby above 1 year of age)
- 2 tablespoon cornflour
- 1 boiled potato
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- Pepper (optional)
- Oil to fry
- Mash the boiled potato.
- Mix cornflour, salt, lemon juice, and add a bit of pepper to it.
- Make small flat cutlets using your fingers.
- Deep fry the cutlets in oil till they are golden brown.
- Feed them to your baby when they are completely cool.
These simple recipes should help you add variety to your child’s diet. If you still have some questions, you must refer to the FAQs provided below before checking with a nutritionist or paediatrician.
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 the stool. It used to be a common home remedy but is not an effective one.
2. 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 food not being properly salivated, which may interfere with the baby’s digestion.
3. Are corn puffs an ideal finger food for my baby?
Fruits and vegetable snacks are much more nutritious than corn puffs.
4. 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.
5. 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 baby powder.
Corn has various health benefits, but it is also important to introduce it at the right time, in the right form and also in the right quantity to your baby’s diet so that you don’t have to worry about any adverse effects.
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