Coconut water is a very good and economical source of certain essential vitamins and minerals such as Calcium, Riboflavin, Vitamin C, Potassium, Manganese and Magnesium. Coconut is one such wonder fruit which is underrated. It has umpteen medicinal properties and cures gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers, diarrhea, indigestion, flatulence, vomiting in babies, and is often called as a ‘perfect food’ as well. This natural water possesses antimicrobial properties, is helpful in treating urinary tract infections and is also used to treat bilious fever. The ancient science of Ayurveda claims that tender coconut water can be used as a laxative and can help prevent vomiting, though evidence through scientific studies is lacking in this field. Infact, coconut water during pregnancy is also highly beneficial for both the mother and the baby.
Is Coconut A Nut?
No, though it is coconut, it does not qualify being from family of nuts and seeds. It grows on coconut trees, a part of the palm family and coconut is said to be a palm fruit. It has layers, the outer layer is covered with thick and dense light-brown or green fibers and the inner layer is an oval shaped fruit. This fruits has water and pulp, the younger the coconut, the more water it contains. Used in atleast 1000 ways, the whole of coconut tree is used for one or the other purpose. For this reason, it is also known as ‘Kalpa Vriksha’ which means it has all the essential necessities for sustaining life. For this reason, it is also called the ‘tree of life’ in the pacific islands.
Coconut Water For Baby Constipation
Coconut is not only a good source of various minerals and vitamins but is also rich in lauric acid. Lauric acid the same ingredient found in breast milk that renders it easily digestible and increases immunity. The body converts lauric acid to monolaurin which has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. These help in combating gastrointestinal infections. Consuming just one cup of coconut water daily can relieve baby constipation.
Sometimes, the tender flesh from young coconuts is mixed with banana and given to babies to avoid constipation. Tender coconut water is believed to be a natural laxative and is often fed to babies. It is also an excellent remedy for indigestion and dysentery, should your baby get these. Remember, coconut water is only second to the best hydrating drink in the world- Water.
When Can I Give Coconut Water To Baby?
Usually infants below 6 months do not need anything else other than breast milk. There is an increased risk of developing allergies, therefore coconut water can be given to babies above 6 months. The timeline should be somewhere between 6 to 8 months, when the baby is started on solids quite comfortably.
Coconut can be used in various forms such as coconut oil, water, desiccated and chopped. Coconut flesh could be hard to chew and digest, even when grated. Coconut chunks can pose a threat as choking hazards. Hence, instead, babies are given coconut water which has absolutely amazing benefits. It not only enhances flavor, aroma and taste but also facilitates digestion. For older babies, you can add coconut in following forms:
- Add coconut milk to purees and mashes
- Add coconut water to rice
- Boiling vegetables in coconut milk and then mashing it
- Strain coconut water for any large chunks before mixing it in the feeds or serving it to your baby
Coconut Water And Infant Formula
Some people would suggest adding coconut water to babies’ diet by mixing it with formula and not using water. Though it should be okay, yet it would be wise to check with your pediatrician. In Thailand, for example, the first solid food that a baby tastes is coconut flesh, made to a custard like consistency. Some people also recommend substituting coconut milk to baby formula; infact it is learnt that some countries use coconut milk as an alternative to baby formula. We strictly suggest that you must check out with your pediatrician before feeding your baby coconut milk instead of formula.
Benefits Of Coconut Water For Babies
If your baby does not have any allergies, it should be fine to feed him coconut water for its amazing health benefits:
- Its natural, no added sugar, comes in sweet taste loaded with goodness
- One of the best hydrating agents, can help babies feel cool during hot weather
- It is low-calorie, low-sugar and zero cholesterol
- It is naturally sterile so you can have it anywhere without worries
- Coconut has diuretic properties, i.e. it can effectively keep urinary tract infections at bay
- Coconut has anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties which can help combat intestinal worms
- It helps in relieving constipation and aids digestion
- Also the electrolyte benefits of coconut water restores the loss of salts from the body during diarrhea and prevents dehydration
- It is a rich source of fiber
- It can help restore the body’s salt during loose motions when the baby loses lots of water and minerals due to exhaustion
- Just like breastmilk, coconut water is a good source of lauric acid – thus helps in boosting immunity
- If your child has had cholera, coconut water can help in compensating for the loss of bodily fluids
- Coconut water serves as an effective remedy against prickly heat rashes and helps prevent itching
- If your baby has been vomiting, giving him coconut water can soothe his tummy and provide relief from irritation
- If the baby has bilious fever with nausea, coconut water can be offered in small amounts. However, do consult the doctor first
Risks Of Giving Coconut Water To Babies
There are no known side effects of this exotic fruit, unless one comes up with allergy – which is quite rare. Mentioning of allergy – there is a controversy whether coconut is a tree nut or a fruit. There are very rare cases of people developing allergic reactions to coconut water, and was evident only in those sensitive to tree nuts. Therefore, slowly introduce coconut water to your infant. Avoid introducing too many new foods at the same time. It simply makes it easier to identify which one is not yet suited for your baby. And follow the tips below on selecting the fresh coconut water for your baby. Coconut is a high source of potassium so you need to keep a check on other substances containing potassium such as banana to need exceed the potassium.
Can I Give Coconut Water To My Baby If She Has Cold And Flu?
It is advisable not to give coconut water to your baby in the winters or if your baby is suffering from cold or flu. Though it is used as a remedy to treat cold and flu in adults, it is not recommended for babies.
Tips To Feed Coconut Water To Babies
- Always feed fresh coconut water
- Make sure the coconut is young, i.e. green so the chances of obtaining sweeter coconut water increases
- The benefits of coconut water is yielded only when drunk sip by sip and not everything down quickly!
- The coconut should be cut open in front of you
- You can store the freshly obtained coconut water in refrigerator and consume within 24 hours
- You can feed the tender coconut cream from young coconuts
- Keep away from mature coconuts – the water is more bland and the meat is not tender
Coconut water is a natural beverage loaded with everything healthy. Good news for the nursing mothers: Due to the resemblance of immunity boosting ingredient (lauric acid) present both in coconut water and breast milk, its recommended for nursing mothers to drink coconut water. And we all know the dangers of aerated, fizzy drinks pose to our children’s health that contain just empty calories. So say goodbye to the packaged fruit juices claiming all the goodness and beat the heat this summer, the natural way – say yes to coconut water!