Whether you offer it raw or make a puree of it, 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.
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 make 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 eyesight. The fruit is also known to improve skin and hair health because it contains Vitamin A.
Prevents anemia: Papaya is rich in iron, which helps in increasing the red blood cell count. In the early years, it's crucial to give a child iron-rich foods to build her hemoglobin count and prevent health conditions like anemia.
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, try to give it to him in small quantities regularly.
Ensures proper bowel movement: 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 fiber which ensures regular bowel movement. This also reduces bloating in children 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 semi-solid foods like mashed bananas. You can introduce papaya to your baby when he is around 7 or 8 months old. Start by giving him small quantities to see if he has an allergic reaction to it. If not, you can add the fruit to his diet in measured quantities regularly.
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 puree for babies
Papayas are the ideal food to give to babies whose teeth are yet to emerge because they are sweet and easy to mash into a smooth puree.
How to make papaya puree
First, pick a ripe papaya. To check if the papaya is ripe, apply 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 color 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 puree it. Add water (boiled and cooled) to get the desired consistency.
Papaya puree is ready.
Food ideas with papaya 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 7 to 8-month-olds
Papaya and banana puree (or mashed)
Papaya and yogurt smoothie
Papaya and apple puree
Papaya and boiled potato mash
Papaya and mango smoothie
For 9 to 11-month-olds
Ripe papaya cut into small cubes
Papaya and mango smoothie
Papaya, sweet potato mash
Papaya with sticky rice
Boiled spaghetti with papaya topping
Papaya and boiled carrots salad
Papaya and peach salad
Papaya, banana pudding
Papaya fruit salad
Papaya vegetable salad
Papaya curry with rice
Nachos with papaya dip
Cottage cheese cooked in pureed 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 fiber, 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 fruits like papaya are always a great choice. However, children can sometimes 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.
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