Carrots for babies
Carrots are healthy for everyone, including babies. They are one of the richest sources of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene gets converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is good for the eye, skin, and immune system. Carrots, being rich in fiber, helps prevent the baby from getting constipated. They also contain vitamin K, which helps in blood clotting.
Carrots provide a very good food option during the weaning period of the baby. They are creamy, sweetish, and bland enough not to irritate the baby’s gut. Pureed carrots should ideally be introduced when the baby starts having solid foods. They blend well with other vegetables and fruits. All these advantages make carrots a palatable option for the baby.
Things to keep in mind while starting carrots for your baby:
- Do not give carrots if your baby is less than 6 months of age. Carrots bought from the market are known to contain nitrates. These may cause the baby to have abnormal red blood cells.
- Select fresh carrots and clean them well. Select fresh carrots, which can be identified by their minimum sprouting and very little hair. Discard the ones with holes or scales (they may be pest-infected). If you want to store the carrots, peel their upper layer and cut their upper disks. Then, wash, dry, and refrigerate them in airtight plastic bags. Peeling makes the carrots easy to digest for the baby. The chemicals are also more concentrated in the peels. Ensure to wash them thoroughly under running tap water by gently scrubbing or brushing them.
- Prefer the regular (or long carrots) over the baby carrots. Long carrots are rich in nutrition, softer, and slightly sweeter than baby carrots. Baby carrots are also likely to be contaminated with chlorine.
- Check if your baby has an allergy to carrots. Babies are getting introduced to new foods. So, this is the time when you can know if they have an allergy to any foods. Once you start giving them carrots, give them alone without mixing them with any other food. You would not be able to understand if the reaction is due to the carrot or the combination.
- Also, start with a small serving. Once you know the baby’s body can tolerate the carrots, increase the serving size gradually.
- Do not give too much carrot puree or squash. Around two to three teaspoonful of carrot puree or squash is enough for them. More than this can cause a condition known as carotenemia. In this condition, the hands and feet of the baby turn yellow. The condition is reversible and the baby’s skin returns to normal once the beta-carotene clears from the body and carrots are discontinued from the baby’s diet for a while.
- Avoid the risk of choking due to carrots. Always boil or steam till you can smash with your finger but not so soft that it breaks before it goes in your baby’s mouth. If you want to cut the carrots and give them to your baby, cut it vertically in the form of match sticks or long sticks and not horizontally, such as making coin-shaped pieces.
Carrots can be eaten alone or combined with various fruits and vegetables because they enhance the flavor of other foods and add a sweet taste to the vegetables. Here are a few ways in which you can incorporate carrots into the diet of your baby:
- Steamed carrots (best method because it preserves the beta-carotene content and increases the amount of beta-carotene available for conversion to vitamin A in the body)
- Boiled carrots
- Carrot juice
- Carrot purée
- Carrot and spinach purée
- Sweet potato, apple, and carrot purée
- Mashed carrot
- Carrot and potato mash for babies
- Carrot apple sauce
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Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Homemade Baby Food: The Danger of Nitrates. June 19, 2014. https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/700childrens/2014/06/homemade-baby-food-the-danger-of-nitrates