Is it safe to include avocado for baby food?
This buttery superfood is a favourite among adults everywhere, but is it as good for your baby? Find out how your baby’s developing body responds to avocado!
Your baby is the centre of your world and you always want the absolute best for your little one. Be it their first toy, their first shoe, or their first food—they need what is right for them. Transitioning from baby food to solids is a huge step in your little one’s life, and can be a confusing time for parents who aren’t sure what foods are safe for their baby.
Parents are usually advised to feed their babies plenty of fruits and vegetables (generally mashed or as a puree) when they begin the transition to adult foods. However, certain fruits and vegetables might not be the best first choice as they could need extra processing, thus making them harder to digest, or could just be bad for toddlers. Avocado for babies is one fruit that has been scrutinised time and again with suspicion. Today, we take a closer look at a commonly asked question – is avocado safe for babies?
What is an avocado?
Easily available, an avocado is a relatively dense fruit with a rich, pulpy inside. Its density makes it easily mashable and hence a perfect fit for toddlers. Aside from simply eating an avocado, or making guacamole, it is also used when making spreads, puree and is sometimes used as a substitute for butter and oil.
What is the issue with avocados?
Avocados have unusually high amounts of fat, which is the primary reason parents are often apprehensive about feeding their toddlers this fruit. However, unknown to most is the fact that most of this fat is harmless, or “good fat”. Avocados contain monounsaturated fat which is great at lowering bad cholesterol, contradictory to general perception. That being said, avocado does have a high calorific value, which is why the serving size of an avocado is traditionally limited and one is asked to eat only about a third of a regular-sized avocado in one sitting.
Is avocado good for babies?
Owing to its abundance of good fat, avocados for babies are great for their overall well-being and development. Toddlers require a diet of high nutritional value, as it is in their primary years that they grow and evolve to the fullest. The monounsaturated fats in avocados contribute to their physical and mental growth in this period, and parents are advised to start including avocados in their baby’s diet from the age of four to six months.
Further, even when not organically cultivated, avocados are resistant to fertilisers, pesticides and other chemicals, thus making them safe for your little one’s intake. This happens due to the anti-inflammatory properties of the fruit. It is a no-cholesterol fruit, and has low sodium content which is also favourable.
Nutritional value of avocados
Aside from monounsaturated fats, avocados contain oleic acid, non-oleic acid, palmitic acid and saturated fats. Avocados are rich in Vitamins B, C, E and K. They also contain good amounts of micronutrients such as folate (essential for cell repair), selenium, phosphorous, lutein (good for the eyes) and potassium, which is great for blood pressure control. The folate in avocados is also good during pregnancy and expectant mothers are often advised to eat avocados prior to delivery.
Avocados are low in sugar, and instead, rich in fibres. This makes one feel full for a longer duration without the negative effects of excess sugar that also prompts similar metabolism rates. Avocado consumption has been recommended for cases of jaundice and hepatitis in babies as it helps improve the overall health of the liver and also general digestion.
The plant chemicals in the fruit are also a good combat for certain types of cancer.
Preparing avocados for babies
It is advised to pick a ripe fruit when it comes to babies as it involves lesser processing and is easier to chew. Avocados get darker with ripening, and one could select a good fruit by looking for the darker green coloured skin. Avocados are often eaten raw – one needs to simply cut the yellow fleshy portion, mash it up and serve it to babies. Owing to its long shelf life and storage time, avocado slices are often saved and used as per convenience. A good way to do so would be to dip the slices in a mixture of lemon and water; the citrus content enables longer storage time without the fruit drying out.
Since babies have no teeth, avocados can be served either as a puree or plain mashed. You can then introduce your child to avocado cubes, or diced slices as per your choice.
Another great way to serve avocado for babies is with curd or yoghurt. Avocado smoothies are yummy, refreshing and extremely healthy. One can also add diced avocado to milk for a delicious summer milkshake. Both these combinations, when made in the required consistency, can be fed to babies with a spoon making it easy to feed and reduce messy mealtimes. These are great ways to ensure your baby is not dehydrated, particularly if you are moving to solid food and drink for the first time.
So if you have always been one of those parents who have shied away from avocado and debated the pros and cons of it, you now know that it is something that is sure to benefit your little one.
Solid foods for your baby are big milestones in their lives, so make sure not to leave avocado out of the list any longer! If you still have queries regarding your baby’s diet and nutrition, feel free to reach out to the paediatricians at mfine.