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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.
Giving Papaya to Your Baby
Papaya is a great fruit to add to your baby’s diet but after you have first started him on other food like bananas, avocados, sweet potatoes, and squash. These are all easily digested and once your baby has tolerated these 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.
Nutrition Value of Papaya
A single medium-sized papaya can be a powerhouse of nutrients. Vitamins A, B and C. Folate, magnesium, copper, iron, calcium, potassium, lycopene and phosphorus are also found in papayas.
Take a look at the table to see the amount of nutrients one cup of raw papaya in a mashed form 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|
Best Health Benefits of Papaya for Your Baby
Besides packing in a punch of nutrients and vitamins, there are plenty of papaya benefits for babies. Papaya for 5 month old baby is not recommended despite its many benefits and ideally it should be introduced only after 7 or 8 months. Here are some things papaya can do for your child’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. The 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. Papaya skin or pulp can also be applied topically on minor burns and rashes. This will help reduce the burning sensation.
4. Improves Metabolism
Papayas are 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.belly ache 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. This is due to the presence of the enzyme cysteine proteinases.
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.
Precautions to Take When Feeding Papayas to a Baby
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 and slowly increase it over a few days. Some other things to keep in mind before you feed papaya to your baby include the following:
- 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 has any kind of discomfort or reaction after consuming the fruit.
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. But the papaya you use for your baby food needs to be ripe and just right. Here are some tips to buy the right papayas:
- Don’t buy papayas that are green and hard because these will take time to ripen and may even get bad before that happens Only those, which 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 fruits have over ripened and will spoil soon. If planning to use the papaya after a few days, then go for the ones with yellow patches.
Apart from regular papaya puree for babies, here are some great papaya baby food recipes for you to try out:
1. Papaya Mash
Ingredients: You will need one ripe papaya
- Peel and de-seed a ripe papaya before you cut it into big cubes.
- Simply mash or make a puree in a blender as smoothly as you want according to your baby’s preference.
The papaya chunks can be first steamed if you want them softened up a bit for quicker digestion.
2. Cantaloupe and Papaya Milkshake for Babies
- 2 tbsp natural yogurt or 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tbsp diced watermelon or cantaloupe
- 1 tbsp diced papaya
- Cut the fruits into big pieces and put them in a blender along with the yogurt to make a smoothie and with milk to make a milkshake.
3. Fruity Breakfast Treat
- 2 tbsp oatmeal prepared in advance
- 1 tbsp papaya; can be pureed or diced
- 1/2 sliced small banana
Just blend all the ingredients to give your baby a healthy start to the day.
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, yogurt 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.