Written by Suma R P
Coconut is a traditional superfood of South India. It has marked its unique presence for its tremendous contribution to health and immunity. New parents should be cautious before introducing coconut milk to the diet of their little ones. What are the precautions? And why do we need to be careful before giving coconut milk to babies? Relax! All your questions are addressed here in our article. Read to know more about coconut milk for babies, when to introduce it, and its health benefits.
The food habits and the intake of adults and infants widely differ and are incomparable. Coconut milk is a nutrition-rich food, but one should take proper precautions before introducing this to the baby. Let us dive deep and know more about giving coconut milk to babies.
In This Article
Coconut milk is a white and silky liquid that is an extraction from the edible mass of the coconut. Although it comes under the milk substitutes category, it is not a replacement for breast milk. Breast or formula milk is the best and only food that does not come with any alternatives till your baby weans off.
Coconut milk is a powerhouse of nutrients. The vitamins and minerals in coconut milk aid in better immunity and have a host of other health benefits for babies. Introducing coconut milk without approval from your doctor is not safe for your babies as coconut can cause potential allergies in some infants. You can give coconut milk once you introduce solids to your baby, but only after approval from your doctor.
For its creamy consistency, sweet and nutty taste, and antimicrobial properties, coconut milk can be a super food for babies. Ir has many health benefits that potentially aid in the better growth of a baby, but replacing it with breast or formula milk is a big no-no. Though it is helpful for the health and development of your baby, a quick word with your doctor would help you do better. Use small quantities of coconut milk as a base in their regular solid food.
Coconut milk is high in nutrition and a must-add to your baby’s diet. However, it isn’t a good idea to give them coconut milk by itself till they complete 1 year of age. Coconut milk should not substitute mother’s milk or formula milk just as we must not give cow or buffalo milk before the baby turns one. You can, however, give coconut milk in cooked form by adding it to porridge, rice or similar dishes and then cooking properly.
The nutritional value of coconut milk depends on the quantity of the mass present inside. The below table gives an analysis per one cup of coconut milk (244 g).
|Vitamin A RAE
|Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
|Saturated Fatty Acids
Coconut milk has abundant health benefits. You must follow proper steps before introducing it into the baby’s diet. Follow your pediatrician’s advice, and the baby can claim all the great benefits of consuming coconut milk.
Coconut milk has lauric acid, whose antimicrobial properties help fight off infections. Lauric acid is one of the components present in breast milk. Hence, we can say that coconut milk is an excellent immunity booster.
[Read : How to Increase Immunity in Babies?]
Coconut milk is high in fat content and helps in weight gain for underweight babies. The presence of good fats also aids in healthy brain development in babies.
The presence of iron helps the baby get the required amount for all the body’s vital functions. The right amounts of iron can help repair the immune system and fight diseases. It helps in preventing anemia in babies.
The presence of bioactive compounds (compounds that play a vital role in biological activities) in coconut milk aids in better digestion in babies. Research shows that bioactive compounds also help in preventing several diseases. Bioactive compounds also help in boosting the immune system.
Coconut milk contains phosphorus as one of its main mineral components. Phosphorus, along with Magnesium, helps in building strong muscles for a growing baby. The presence of several vitamins and minerals in coconut milk can help a baby meet the needs required for healthy growth.
Apart from the above benefits, the lauric acid in coconut milk helps fight stomach worms in babies. Coconut milk is also known for its excellent skin and hair benefits. Fibre from coconut milk helps babies stay away from constipation.
When it comes to the diet of your little one, you must take utmost care before introducing new foods to them. Coconut milk may not potentially cause allergies to all babies, yet some babies are allergic to coconut and its products.
If you want to introduce coconut milk to your baby, it is after they start on solids. While you can give foods cooked in coconut milk to your baby after they turn 6 months old, do not give it as it is until their first birthday. You cannot replace coconut milk with breast or formula milk to feed your baby.
The best way to introduce coconut milk to your baby’s diet at around 6 months is by offering it in cooked form with rice, porridge, kheer etc. Consult the pediatrician before introducing this milk to your baby in the whole form.
[Read : Introducing Solids to Your Baby?]
Here are a few precautions every parent or caregiver must take when giving coconut milk to their baby for the first time.
Allergies to coconut and coconut milk are relatively rare. However, you must look out for the following reactions and side effects, especially when giving coconut milk to your baby for the first time.
In case your baby shows any of the above reactions after having coconut milk or products cooked with coconut milk, stop giving it immediately and consult the pediatrician to understand the further course of action.
We have listed a few steps on how you can give coconut milk to your baby.
Mix one or two tablespoons of coconut milk with fruit puree or juice, and you use the mixture to feed your little one. Do not add sugar or sweeteners because coconut milk is already sweet and nutty.
Once you boil and mash the vegetables like carrots and potatoes, you can add one to two tablespoons of coconut milk to enhance the taste. It will not just add to the taste but is also beneficial for the health of your little one.
You can add it to the porridges you make for your baby.
If you have had a family history of skin and food allergies, ensure to get approval from your doctor before giving coconut milk to your baby. However, it is always vital to consult the pediatrician before introducing new food into your baby’s solid diet.
We get canned coconut milk in supermarkets, which you can store in refrigerators for some days. Canned food products are BPA contaminated and are not safe for your little one’s health. You can make coconut milk at home by following these steps.
Select and buy a fresh coconut from the market
Whether or not to give coconut milk for babies is always a dilemma for parents. Once you can give coconut milk in the cooked form to your little one once they turn 6 months. Despite its incredible health benefits, coconut milk cannot replace breast and formula feeding. You can either wait until your baby turns a year old and is free from allergies or get an opinion from your doctor and go for it.
[Read : Giving Coconut Water To Babies]
Coconut milk is not an allergen and does not cause allergies in babies. But babies with hereditary allergies can be allergic to coconuts.
Coconut allergy is not so common, yet it can cause allergies in some babies. It is always better to consult your doctor before taking a step.
You can introduce coconut milk into your little one’s diet after approval from your doctor. Use small amounts of coconut milk as a base for their solid foods. Do not replace coconut milk with breast or formula milk.
Suma is a passionate content writer with a strong keenness to understand the miracle of pregnancy, birth, and parenting. Suma has successfully transitioned into a full-time content writer and a key contributor at Being The Parent. She leverages on her experimental background in chemistry and experience in writing to come up with well-researched content that helps parents struggling to deal with various medical conditions of their children.Read more.
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