Papaya For Babies – Health Benefits And Side Effects
Papaya, with its sweet taste and soft texture, is a favourite of most babies. Here are a few reasons why papayas for babies is a good idea.
By Leena Ghosh
Whether you put it in a salad, make a purée of it or cook it in a curry, papaya is a fruit that can be adapted to any form of dish you want to make for your little one. What’s more, this fruit has numerous health benefits and is one of the top picks by mothers to introduce as a first food to their babies.
The following are the nutritional benefits of eating papaya:
Nutritional value of papaya
In 100g of raw papaya, you’ll find:
- Calories 43 kcal
- Total fat 0.3g
- Sodium 8mg
- Carbohydrate 11g
- Dietary fibre 1.7g
- Sugar 7.8g
- Protein 0.5g
- Vitamin A 47mcg
- Vitamin C 60.9mg
- Calcium 20mg
- Iron 0.25mg
Data based on USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) - National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
Health benefits of papaya for babies
There are several benefits to eating this fruit. Here are some of them:
- Boosts immunity: Because papaya boasts of a high quantity of Vitamin C, it helps in building the baby's immune system. Babies are often prone to colds and coughs and foods rich in vitamin C, like papaya, help prevent them from falling sick often and makes them stronger as well.
- Improves eye and skin health: Vitamin A is also known to be good for the eyes. Papaya helps in preventing eye illnesses and boosts good vision. The fruit is also known to improve skin and hair health because it contains Vitamin A.
- Prevents anaemia: Papaya is rich in iron, which helps in increasing the red blood cell count and maintaining the haemoglobin levels in blood. In the early years, it's crucial to give a child iron-rich foods to build her haemoglobin count and prevent health conditions like anaemia.
- Heals skin rashes and burns: Papaya pulp is known to have medicinal properties that help soothe skin sores, rashes and burns. This is because of the presence of Vitamin A. When papaya pulp is applied on minor rashes, it reduces the burning sensation.
- Helps in digestion: One of the advantages of giving papaya to your baby is it helps in digestion. This is because of the presence of the enzyme papain which assists in the digestion of food. If the fruit suits your baby, you can give it to him in small quantities regularly.
- Ensures proper bowel movement: Little kids often suffer from constipation because, at a young age, their bowel movements are not regular. Papaya helps treat constipation as it is high in fibre which ensures regular bowel movement. This also reduces bloating in babies and helps build their appetite.
When can you start giving papaya to babies?
Papaya can be introduced to a baby early on, but only after he is able to digest foods like bananas, avocados and sweet potatoes. So, you introduce papaya to your baby when she is around 7 or 8 months old. And, when you do it, do so in small quantities to see if your baby has an allergic reaction to it or not. If not, you can add the fruit to her diet in measured quantities.
When to give papaya leaf juice to a baby
Papaya leaf juice has been known to have medicinal properties. It is especially effective in increasing the platelet count which is affected when an individual contracts dengue fever. According to a study by BK Srikanth et al, published by Pediatric Health, Medicine and Therapeutics (2019) Carica papaya leaf extract was shown to ‘significantly increase the mean platelet count in thrombocytopenia associated with dengue fever in pediatric subjects’. The syrup was also well tolerated by them.
Papaya purée for baby
How to make papaya purée for babies
Because papayas are sweet and easy to mash into a smooth purée, they are the ideal food to give to babies whose teeth are yet to erupt.
The following are the steps to make papaya purée:
- First, pick a ripe papaya. To see if the papaya is ripe or not, put a little pressure on the papaya skin. It should give in slightly. Ripe papayas also give off a sweet aroma. They are yellowish green in colour on the outside, and reddish orange on the inside.
- After thoroughly washing the papaya, peel the fruit and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
- Wash the fruit again and cut it into small pieces.
- Put the pieces in a blender or a food processor to purée it. Add water (boiled and cooled) to get the desired consistency.
- Your papaya purée is ready.
Papaya food ideas for kids
There are many benefits of papayas for babies. Here are some interesting ways you can introduce the fruit to your little one.
For a 7 to 8-month-old
- Papaya purée
- Papaya and banana purée (or mashed)
- Papaya and yoghurt smoothie
- Papaya and apple purée
- Papaya and boiled potato mash
For a 9 to 11-month-old
- Ripe papaya cut into small cubes
- Papaya juice
- Papaya and mango smoothie
- Papaya, sweet potato mash
For a 1-year-old
- Papaya with sticky rice
- Boiled spaghetti with papaya topping
- Papaya and boiled carrots salad
- Papaya and peach salad
- Papaya, banana pudding
For a 2-year-old
- Papaya fruit salad
- Papaya vegetable salad
- Papaya curry with rice
- Nachos with papaya dip
- Cottage cheese cooked in puréed papaya
- Papaya and oats
- Papaya, carrot, peas and cheese lasagne
Side effects of papaya
While papaya has many health benefits, it can cause certain allergic reactions as well. The following are some of the side effects of eating papaya:
- Allergic reaction: If your child is sensitive to latex, he could develop an allergy to papaya. Allergic reactions to papaya manifest as itching, headache, facial swelling or rashes. So, consult a doctor immediately if your child shows any of the above symptoms after consuming papaya.
- Stomach upset: Papaya is high in fibre, so over-consumption can cause an upset stomach. Eating papaya can also cause stomach irritation, bloating and stomach pain in some cases.
- Respiratory issues: Those allergic to papaya, especially to the enzyme papain, can experience wheezing or breathlessness.
It’s important to introduce new and healthy foods to your little one. And, healthy and tasty foods like papaya are always a great choice. However, children develop allergies to certain food items. So, it’s always a good idea to observe your child for 24 hours, once you have introduced any new food to her.
About the author:
Written by Leena Ghosh on 10 September 2019; updated on 15 October 2019
The author is a journalist, writer, editor and the mother of a spirited young girl. In between juggling the roles of being a full-time cheerleader for her daughter, a thorough professional and a part time chef, she dreams of finishing the first page of her unwritten book.
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