Flax seed has gotten a reputation in the health food circles, but is it safe for baby? As parents, we want to ensure our child is getting the best foods to support healthy growth and development. One food that parents often wonder about is flax. Though some of us have heard of it, others may not have. So what exactly is it, and can you give it to your baby?
Flax is considered a flowering perennial, and we consume the seeds of the flax plant. Flax is known to bloom from May through September. While it is typically grown in Canada, it can also be found in the northern Midwest areas of the United States.
Flax seed is considered healthy and is a great source of nutrients, healthy oils and fiber that are necessary for your baby’s growth and development. Flax is comprised of three essential components that make it healthy. These three essential components include omega-3 oils, lignans and fiber. Flax seed contains vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin C, vitamin E, carotene, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium.
Can I Give My Baby Flax Seed? Answer: At 7 to 8 Months
Omega-3s are known to relieve pain and inflammation, provide better brain function and higher intelligence, provide a higher sense of self-esteem, create a lower incidence of childhood disorders, have a positive effect on heart disease, protect against heart attack and stroke and reduce menstrual pain.
Adding flax into your baby’s diet is perfectly safe between seven and eight months of age. Usually, you would begin giving flax to your baby in the form of flax meal or flax oil. Giving your child flax seed should be avoided until nine to twelve months of age, as the seeds are very small. Also, flax seed may not digest correctly, do don’t be alarmed if you notice flax seed in your baby’s diaper.
While it is safe, your child should not consume more than three teaspoons of flax per day. While overconsuming flax does not have any very harmful side effects, it is considered to be a natural laxative, so you should keep the dosage very low to reduce the risk of diarrhea.
Like with any food, flax should be introduced to your baby at the right time. After the initial introduction, watch for signs of a food allergy. It is recommended to wait at least three days before introducing another “new” food to your child. Typical signs of an allergic reaction can include swelling, cramping, rash, diarrhea or vomiting. Milder symptoms should result in a phone call to your child’s doctor right away. If your baby seems to be having trouble breathing, or is showing any symptoms that are more sever in nature, call 911 immediately.
As They Get Older
Once your baby is one or two years old, you can increase the amount of flax given. You should consult with your child’s doctor to find out the correct and safe dosage. Keep in mind that you cannot substitute flax oil for other cooking oils. When heated, flax oil will burn.
Flax is very delicate and needs to be stored a specific way to ensure it remains in tact. Flax goes bad rather quickly, and consuming bad flax can be unhealthy. To stay fresh longer, flax oil and ground flax should be stored in the refrigerator. Flax seed does not go bad as quickly as oil and ground flax, and when sealed, these seeds can typically last up to two years in a dry place.
Whole flax seeds are regularly added to baked goods and cereals. Since seeds have a hard time breaking down in the digestive tract, the seeds may not release all of its good and healthy nutrients.
You can add ground flax, flax meal or flax oil to your baby’s food in numerous ways. You can add it to their cereals, sprinkle it in yogurt or on fruit purees, add it to baked goods, or add it to meats, such as chicken. You can find many flax seed recipes in baby-friendly cookbooks or on the Internet.
Remember, flax is perfectly safe to give your baby around seven months of age. It is rich in omega-3s and fiber and is easy to add to your baby’s meals. Flax can go bad very quickly, so it is important you know how to store it properly.
If you have any questions about feeding flax to your baby, it is best to consult your child’s physician. He or she will be able to discuss your concerns more thoroughly.