Can my baby eat papaya?
Yes, you can give your baby papaya. Most parents wait to introduce papaya as a later food, which means they only introduce it to their baby when the baby is 7 – 8 months old.
This is because papaya can be harder to digest for your baby at six months old, if not well pureed into a smooth consistency. This process may require you to add oat milk, yogurt, or use your baby’s milk or formula to create that smooth consistency that makes it easy for your baby to ingest.
It is important to introduce your baby to solid foods, which are foods other than their breast milk or formula no earlier than six months old. This is the recommendation made by the American Academy of Pediatricians. This is important because it provides your baby with an additional source of nutrition and allows your baby’s digestive system to develop healthily without interruptions that could lead to digestive issues later on in their lives.
Once you introduce your baby to solid food, it is important to keep their breast milk or formula as a primary source of nutrition until they are 12 months, while the solid food plays a complementary role. This will allow your baby to adjust to food with ease and allow you to expand its food palate.
Papaya is a great versatile fruit to add to your baby’s diet. It is high in nutrients and sweet, which your baby will agree with because their palate tends to gravitate towards sweeter foods, which are like their breast milk or formula that they are used to.
What is Papaya?
Papaya is a delicious sweet fruit with a soft buttery consistency. Papaya or pawpaw is thought to have originated in southern Mexico or Central America. It spread throughout the world, where it is now cultivated in most tropical or subtropical regions.
There are two popular kinds of papaya in the world. One that is sweet and has a red or orange outer, and the other has a yellow outer. They are often referred to as red papaya and yellow pawpaw.
There is green papaya that is common in South Asian cooking. It is eaten raw or cooked.
Papaya is rich in papain, which is an enzyme that tenderizes the meat and is used in many meat tenderizers. This means you can mix papaya with your baby’s meat to tenderize it, then cook it and puree the meat for your baby.
Nutritional benefits of Papaya
Papaya is known to improve digestion and makes proteins easier to digest, which is why it is used as a meat tenderizer. It is also known and used to provide constipation relief and relief from irritable bowel syndrome. The seeds, leaves, and roots of papaya are used to treat ulcers.
Papaya is high in antioxidants and vitamin C, which helps protect skin against damage. It also helps provide relief for chronic inflammation. Papaya also contains lycopene, which is known to reduce the risk of developing cancer.
Papaya contains foliate, which is used to create red and white blood cells, which are the body’s engines that keep the cells properly supplied with oxygen and protect the body against infection. Foliate also helps the body convert carbohydrates to energy and is very important during periods of rapid growth like infancy, pregnancy, and adolescent. It will greatly benefit your baby’s growth.
Papaya also contains vitamin A or retinol, which helps develop health eyesight for your baby and supports your baby’s immune system.
Papaya contains vitamin C, which is essential for your baby’s healthy growth and development. It is also important in repairing the body tissues and is involved in many processes in your baby’s body, such as the formation of collagen. It helps with the absorption of iron into your baby’s body, healing wounds, and maintaining your baby’s cartilage, teeth, and bones.
Papaya also contains magnesium, which is essential to the human body. It is used in hundreds of chemical processes within the body. Calcium helps your baby’s body maintain strong bones. It is needed by the heart and nervous system to function well. Potassium helps your baby’s nervous system function at it’s best and protects your baby from heart and kidney disorders as well as stress and anxiety.
Fortunately, papaya is not one of the foods contaminated with pesticides. Therefore selecting organic in this case is a personal choice.
Papayas bruise easily, which can cause the fruit to be rotting immediately. It is important to select a fruit that isn’t bruised or hasn’t got indentations on it and carefully transport it, storing it in a cool, dry place until you are ready to use it. It is important not to let it sit too long; otherwise, it will start to rot, especially if it is already yellow or red-orange and ripe.
If you select ripe papaya, do so because you will use it within two days. Otherwise, it will start to rot. You may cut ripe papaya or pawpaw and store it in your refrigerator in an airtight container.
Do not leave a peel or cut papaya on your counter. It will go bad and will become a health risk.
If you select green papaya or one that isn’t ripe, you can store it in your pantry until it becomes yellow or red-orange. It will also give off a sweet scent when it is ripe.
Preparing Papaya for your baby
Preparing papaya for your baby is very easy. Papaya is a fruit and doesn’t require cooking unless it is green papaya.
All you need to do is peel the papaya, which you may have already done if you stored it in your refrigerator.
Serving your baby papaya
You first wash the papaya as you would any other fruit, then you peel the skin off, which leaves you with the soft buttery-like fruit.
Next, cut the fruit in half to reveal the inside, which contains small black seeds, much like a pumpkin does except for the color and size of the seeds. You will remove all the seeds or shave them off as you do with the pumpkin. The seeds are bitter, so it’s best to remove them if serving your baby.
You can cut the half papaya into cubes and serve your baby if they have teeth, or you can puree the papaya for your baby and adding yogurt and peach for a smoothie.
Some parents opt to gently steam the papaya for 5 to 10 minutes, to make it easier for their baby to digest.
Remember to store the remaining fruit in an airtight container in your refrigerator.
Papaya is a great addition to your baby’s diet. Remember to practice shared responsibility when it comes to feeding your baby, which helps them develop great eating habits. You set meal times, which should be no more than 2 hours apart until they go to bed. You also determine what they will eat and where they eat.
Your baby determines how much they will eat and what on the plate they will eat. Allow them to make their choices and stop when they feel full. This will make mealtimes easy and enjoyable for everyone.
Remember not to use chocolate to bribe your baby into eating, do not serve them food they gravitate towards, and ignore everything else in a bid to get them to eat. Your baby, like most babies, will eat what they are given, after 10 -15 times, no matter how picky they are, they soon throw in the towel.