Can you give a baby coconut? We answer how and when to give coconut products to babies, the benefits of coconut, plus allergy and safety tips.
If you’re a first time mom, you’ll have lots of questions about which foods are safe for babies and when to introduce them to your child.
Fortunately, the first several months of a baby’s life are pretty straightforward, where the only foods offered are breast milk and baby formula.
But, after around six months, several other foods can be brought to the table.
So, should coconut be one of them?
Here’s when and how to introduce coconut products to babies, plus allergy information, and benefits.
Coconuts are nutrient-rich fruits that grow on the coconut tree (palm trees) in tropical climates. And there are several different ways to use and enjoy them.
Here are some coconut food products enjoyed all around the world:
- Coconut meat
- Coconut cream
- Processed or fresh coconut water
- Coconut milk
- Coconut oil
- Coconut butter
- Coconut yogurt
Adults enjoy coconut milk in curry recipes, coconut cream in rich desserts, coconut oil for cooking, and coconut yogurt as a vegan alternative.
Can I give my baby coconut?
It’s important to introduce coconut products to babies at the right time and in the proper form.
You can start giving coconut products to a baby as soon as they’re ready for solid foods (around 6 months).
However, you should wait until 12 months of age before serving coconut milk or water as a drink. If these items are given to a baby too soon, they may replace the critical nutrition in breast milk and infant formula.
Older babies can safely drink cow’s milk, coconut milk, or water without losing those important nutrition benefits.
But in the meantime, you can use coconut milk and water in recipes for solid foods.
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The Benefits of Coconut for Babies
Coconuts have several wonderful health benefits. So, when the time is right, they’re a great addition to a baby’s diet.
They’re rich in healthy fats, amino acids essential for brain development, antioxidants, and B vitamins. And they’re also a good source of zinc, phosphorus, protein, and iron.
Coconuts also contain lauric acid, one of the essential fats in breast milk and a vital component in immune system health.
The soft, jelly-like flesh from young green coconuts is rich in medium-chain fatty acids and dietary fiber. And it’s a good source of sodium and potassium.
One of the benefits of coconut water is that it’s a great source of electrolytes, so it can help older babies with constipation or diarrhea. Some even tout it as the next best food for babies after breast milk.
And you can also use it to reduce gum inflammation while teething (apply a small amount directly to the gum) or as a healthy oil for cooking.
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Safe Ways to Give a Baby Coconut
Below are several safe ways to give a baby coconut. And, you can check out these coconut baby food recipes if you need some additional inspiration.
If you’ve wondered how to give coconut water to babies, you can use it to make rice, cereals, or porridge, starting at 6 months.
Or you can serve it fresh, starting at 1 year of age.
Coconut Milk or Cream
You can also use unsweetened coconut milk for rice, cereals, and porridge. And coconut cream or milk for smoothies.
Grated Coconut (coconut flakes)
After the pureed food stage, you can offer grated coconut to your baby. It’s a great natural sweetener for rice, cereal, and porridge.
However, some babies have issues with the texture or problems with digestion, so watch out for that.
You can use coconut oil to prepare sauteed vegetables or add a small amount to other solid foods to increase the fat content.
However, coconut oil should be given in small amounts (up to 2 teaspoons a day).
Coconut meat is harder to find. But, if you can get your hands on it, the soft fleshly texture makes it perfect for blended vegetable or fruit purees.
Things to Look Out For
Whenever you introduce a new food to your child, you should do so with caution. Start with a very small amount, and see how your baby tolerates it.
If you notice any signs of an allergic reaction, stop giving it to your child and consult with your pediatrician.
Coconut allergies are rare, but they may cause serious allergic reactions similar to anaphylaxis because coconut is often preserved with sulfites. Children with asthma may be most at risk of sulfite sensitivities. If you notice these symptoms, seek medical attention for your child right away.
NOTE: The FDA classifies coconuts as tree nuts even though they’re technically fruits. However, most people with tree nut allergies are not allergic to coconut.
You can give babies coconut water as a beverage starting at 12 months.
12-month-olds need 8 ounces of water per day, ideally, in addition to breast milk or regular milk. You can substitute part of that 8 ounces with coconut water.
You can offer coconut milk as a beverage to babies starting at 12 months. Before 12 months, you can use coconut milk as a base for infant cereals, rice, and purees.
Coconut allergy is not common and it’s usually safe for babies to start eating coconut between 6 and 12 months. However, you should always introduce new foods with caution and look for signs of a reaction.
And though coconut is classified as a tree nut by the FDA, most people with a nut allergy, aren’t allergic to coconuts.
You can give grated coconut to babies after the pureed food stage. However, many babies don’t like the texture and may have problems digesting it.
You should not give coconut oil to newborns. But it is safe to give extra virgin coconut oil to babies, starting at 6 months. However, you should offer it sparingly.
The Bottom Line
Here’s the bottom line on whether you can give coconut to your baby:
- It is safe to add coconut products to your baby’s diet, starting at 6 months. However, coconut milk and water shouldn’t be offered as a beverage before 12 months of age.
- There are several health benefits of coconut for babies, including immune system support, healthy brain development, improved digestion, protein, healthy fats, and more.
- You can use coconut products like coconut milk, water, and meat as the base for baby foods. These include cereals, rice, porridge, purees, and smoothies.
- And you can use coconut oil for skin hydration, reducing the inflammation from teething, and sautéing vegetables.
- Coconut is classified as a tree nut by the FDA, but coconut allergy is very rare. However, you should introduce coconut and any new foods to your baby with caution.
- If you notice an allergic reaction, stop use and consult with your pediatrician or seek immediate medical care for serious reactions.
If this post was helpful, be sure to check out:
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- 23 creative monthly baby photo ideas
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- 115 unique first birthday party ideas
Did I answer all your questions about how and when to give a baby coconut? Let me know if I missed anything in the comments!