World coconut day is observed on 2 September every year. The APCC (Asian and Pacific Coconut Community) initiative, the first observance of World Coconut Day, took place in 2009. The World Coconut Day theme for the year 2022 is “Growing Coconut for a Better Future and Life”.
Coconut milk, obtained from coconut, is said to have ample health benefits and is a common ingredient used in Indian cooking. It has gained popularity around the globe as a replacement for dairy, making coconut milk an easy, cruelty-free addition to your dishes.
Coconut milk is made from the flesh of the mature brown coconuts and has a thick consistency with a rich, creamy texture. Coconut milk is high in various vitamins and minerals and is the best option for people who are lactose intolerant and vegans. However, how safe and healthy is coconut milk for babies and children?
Coconut Milk For Babies And Children: How Safe Is It?
First things first, coconut milk is not coconut water. The white milky substance extracted from coconut flesh or coconut meat is said to stimulate weight loss, aid heart health, boost immune levels and reduce cholesterol levels    .
Rick with vitamins and minerals, coconut milk, contains high levels of saturated fat, making it a calorie-rich food; therefore, it is important that you don’t consume it in excess. While it is a known fact that coconut milk is healthy for the majority of adults, how healthy is it for the younger ones? Let’s take a look.
Benefits Of Coconut Milk For Babies And Children
The essential fats present in coconut milk make it a healthy addition to your child’s diet  . It has nutritional elements, such as medium-chain triglycerides and bioactive compounds that can be beneficial to your child’s health. According to nutritionists, it is safe to give calcium-fortified coconut milk as the main drink for babies older than 12 months  .
Keep in mind that coconut milk is not a replacement for breast milk or formula as it lacks nutrients present in breast milk. However, coconut milk is considered a good weaning food and can be used as an alternative in case of lactose intolerance in older babies (12 months plus)  .
Here are some of the proven health benefits of coconut milk for babies and children:
- One cup of coconut milk contains 25 per cent of daily iron, which may help prevent anaemia in children.
- The electrolytes and healthy fats can help relieve constipation and improve digestion  .
- Vitamin C in coconut milk can boost their immunity  .
- The phosphorus and magnesium content can help build healthy muscles.
- Some studies have shown that coconut milk contains a good amount of saturated fatty acid, which may help support a baby’s healthy brain development in the long run  .
How To Introduce Coconut Milk To Your Baby’s Diet?
You can add coconut milk to your baby’s diet by adding it to their weaning food, or try coconut milk-based cheese, yoghurt, and desserts for babies older than six months (occasionally). Some nutritionists say that coconut milk can be introduced to babies’ diets from 8 months, but make sure NOT to give plain coconut milk to babies but add a few tablespoons of coconut milk to mashed vegetables or any porridge and introduce it  .
You can give coconut milk to toddlers and kids by adding it to milkshakes, smoothies, soups, rice, kheer, or curry. Limit the amount to ¼ cup to ½ cup of coconut milk per day for babies.
Note : Consult a paediatrician before giving coconut milk to the baby.
Risks of Coconut Milk For Babies And Children
While coconut milk is a fairly safe food for your kid, certain possible side effects are associated with it.
- Avoid giving large quantities of coconut milk to your child because coconut milk is high in saturated fat, which may fill your baby’s little tummy and suppress their appetite for breast milk.
- Avoid buying store-made coconut milk as it is often diluted and may contain artificial sweeteners and thickeners  .
- Some children can show signs of sensitivity or intolerance  .
- If the child has an existing dermatitis condition or a family history of skin allergies, consult a doctor before introducing coconut milk.
- Keep the intake of coconut milk occasional, even for older toddlers, to avoid excessive and unhealthy weight gain.
Coconut Milk Recipes For Babies And Children
1. Coconut Milk Puree (6 months plus)
- ¼ cup mango puree
- ¼ banana puree
- ½tsp dry fruit powder
- 2tbsp coconut milk
- Mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl thoroughly to get rid of lumps.
- You can store the remaining amount in an airtight container in the refrigerator for two days and use it.
- ¼ cup sago (washed, drained, and soaked)
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1cup water
- 1tsp dry fruit powder (cashew, almond etc.)
- ⅛ tsp cardamom powder
- Boil coconut milk and water in low heat.
- Add cardamom powder, dry fruit powder, and sago.
- Cook for seven to eight minutes while stirring occasionally.
- Add more water to adjust the porridge’s consistency.
- Once the desired thickness is acquired, please remove it from heat.
- Poha/flattened rice – ½ cup
- Coconut milk – 1cup
- Cashews – 3
- Almonds – 3
- Dates – 4
- Raisins – 1 tsp
- Cardamom – 1
- Jaggery – 1 to 2 tsp optional
- Wash poha and soak it for 5 minutes or until soft.
- Grind all the ingredients with soaked poha in a blender until smooth.
- Transfer the blended poha nuts mix to a saucepan and cook it for 5 minutes.
- Switch off the flame once done. Cool it before consuming.
2. Sago And Coconut Milk Porridge (10 months plus)
3. Poha Kheer (8 months plus)
On A Final Note…
World Coconut Day 2021 aims to promote investment and growth of the coconut industry, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Coconut milk for babies can be introduced after they reach the age of 12 months. While some nutritionists have pointed out that it can be given from 8 months, the safe option is 12 months plus.
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