Can I give baby coconut? Answer: Yes from 8 months with care
You can feed a baby coconut water, coconut milk, jellied coconut and dessicated coconut. The coconut meat from a ripe coconut would most likely be too strong for a baby and could very well be a choke hazard so I would recommend avoiding it.Adding coconut to your baby’s food can increase nutritional value and give them a tropical twist too.
Is It A Nut? Should I Be Avoiding It?
The coconut tree is a member of the palm family, which makes it’s fruit a drupe rather than a nut. (Handy for all the trivia buffs out there) A point to note, the FDA is now including coconut on its list of tree nuts, but we got these comments from www.theallergicchild.com
“…The coconut is in the palm family, and while it is possible to be allergic to coconut… it doesn’t cross react with tree nuts. Our son tolerates coconut without a problem. Yet coconut has been determined to be a tree nut by the FDA for purposes of labeling! Food that includes coconut will likely have a label stating that the product includes Tree Nuts.“
A coconut allergy is rare, but you should talk to your pediatrician or infant nutritionist if you’re worried at all.
How Can You Include Coconut Milk In Your Baby’s Diet?
There are many great uses for coconut and it’s by products such as coconut milk, or coconut water. These can be added to specific dishes to enhance nutritional value to a meal. It is always better to add a very small amount to baby’s meal and to never give baby a pureed form of the coconut meat, this would be way too strong and too much for baby. Coconut milk can be blended into various rice and meat dishes if your pediatrician indicates that this is fine for your baby. Mix coconut milk or coconut cream with mashed vegetables, use coconut milk to thin purees, cook your rice in coconut milk or even add a little coconut milk to a smoothie. Your only limit is your imagination!
- add to mashed veges
- use it to cook your baby’s rice
- thin out baby purees
- poach fish or chicken in coconut milk (make sure it is completely boneless)
What is the nutritional value?
In many parts of the world where coconuts grow in abundance they are a staple food for the entire family. Coconuts are packed with nutrients and are credited with having many health promoting properties. The meat of the coconut provides the B vitamins, protein, zinc, phosphorus and iron. Recent research has suggested that the fat found within coconuts is very good for us. This is due to the high lauric acid which also happens to be the main fatty acid that is found in breast milk. Lauric acid is what makes breast milk so digestible and is believed to protect the body from infections and assists in boosting the immune system.
Coconut milk is considered to be very healthy to eat, and in many cultures coconut milk is offered to infants from around 6 – 8 months of age. The first solid food that is eaten by a Thai baby is three spoonfuls of the custard like flesh of a young coconut and is fed to baby by a Buddhist priest. Many children in the United States will get to eat coconut when it is baked in cakes or biscuits, but there is currently a growing trend in coconut water consumption.
What is Coconut Water?
Fresh coconuts will contain water; when you shake it you will hear a lot of liquid sloshing about. That liquid is called coconut water which is very nutritious. The sweetest water will come from very young coconuts with the more mature coconuts having water which will not be so sweet. You can give a baby coconut water in place of juice. Remember that if you have bought a fresh coconut and you have broken it open the water (or coconut juice) needs to be refrigerated and consumed within 24 hours.
What are Coconut Cream and Coconut Milk?
You will find a variety of coconut milk and coconut cream products available in supermarkets around the world. It’s a popular food staple for many cultures and is often an ingredient in baking and dessert recipes. Using coconut milk in any of your baby food recipes is a great idea but you should always check the label to make sure that it is unsweetened and has no other additives.
You could also make your own coconut milk or coconut cream using a fresh coconut. All you have to do is cut a fresh coconut into small pieces and place them in a food processor. Then, cover the coconut pieces with boiling water and process at high speed. Finally, strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove any little pieces and then you can refrigerate. The result you will have is a liquid coconut cream which should be rich and thick with a very strong flavor. Once its been refrigerated the coconut cream will thin out and it is this thinner liquid that forms which is called coconut milk.
Jellied Coconut i.e. Young Coconut
A young coconut also known as jellied coconut are harder to come by but are very delicious in taste. Health food shops and natural food shops is where you may be able to purchase them from. Young coconuts are kept in the chilled section of a store and once you get your coconut home you will need to keep it refrigerated. When you open a young coconut, the meat is very soft and gelatinous and much sweeter than a mature coconut. It is easily pureed and can be added to baby food recipes.
Here’s A Fun Fact You Might Not Know About Coconuts
Coconut water is identical to human blood plasma. The electrolytic balance matches that which is in our blood. In World War II, soldiers fighting in the Pacific region were given emergency plasma transfusions of coconut water when they were badly wounded! Coconut water was also used as an emergency short term IV hydration fluid. Coconut water is now referred to as the “fluid of life”.
Coconuts For Infants
If your baby doesn’t have a history of allergies then you should be fine to add coconut to your baby’s slowly expanding diet. The milk and water of a coconut can give a new and exciting flavor to rice, vegetables, white meat and purees. You can use it as a substitute for juice and add it to smoothies. Use your imagination! Always remember to add new foods with care and by themselves for a few days. That way if your little one has a reaction you will know what caused it straight away. Talk to your pediatrician when you’re adding new foods to your baby’s diet and if there is any history of allergies speak to a medical professional first.