You may be wondering how to introduce your little one to the different food items when they start growing up? And when it can be as flavourful and robust as onion, things can be quite difficult.
Onion, the most humble ingredient found in every kitchen, adds flavour and deliciousness to every dish it is put into, however, is not the top contender for a baby’s food due to its firm texture and strong taste. Babies making an acquaintance with onions can be a task.
So let us help you with this problem and suggest some ways that can deal with the situation.
Benefits of onion for babies
Onion belongs to the lily family like garlic. Not only is onion delicious and full of flavours, but it is also bestowed with abundant medical properties that make it an important medicinal plant too.
Onions contain natural sugar, vitamin A, B6, C and E, sodium, potassium, iron and dietary fibres. It is also abundant in folic acid.
Did you know, 100gram serving of onion contains 35 calories, 8gram of carbohydrates, 6.2 grams of sugars and 2.2grams of fibres?
Now you may wonder why onions are being suggested to babies?
- As already stated, onions are abundant in micronutrients that help to fill the daily nutritional needs of a baby and also provide immense health benefits in the long run.
- Onions are bestowed with antioxidants and bioactive elements that help in fighting against free radical damage. It boosts the immune system and also provides protection against bacterial infections.
- Onions benefit the bacteria present in the colon, improving the gut health in the process as it works as a prebiotic in the body.
- Increases heart health and also maintains proper blood levels in the body.
- If the baby has symptoms of asthma, consuming onion can reduce the symptoms as they are rich in anti-inflammatory properties.
- Body’s ability to absorb iron from other food sources is enhanced when an onion is consumed.
- Onions are a rich source of polyphenols which aids digestion and brain development.
- Polyphenols protect against blood clot and heart disease and also prevent cancer.
- Onions are good for healing stuffy noses in babies and can ameliorate cough symptoms in them.
- Onions can be touted as a curative for colic and stomach upset in babies, however, proper scientific evidence is not present.
- Frozen green onions are considered very effective during teething. Gnawing at a frozen piece of onion can improve the fussiness caused during this period.
How and when can babies eat onions?
According to paediatricians, onions can be given to babies as soon as they start eating solid food but it should be generally followed after the baby has been accustomed to consuming solid foods like fruits and vegetables.
Now, the main concern lies in how can someone introduce their babies to onions?
If the infant is above one year of age, then you can feed them small raw pieces of onion and can gauge their reactions to it. Normally, due to pungent smell and raw taste, uncooked onion is not a child’s favourite food item. Nevertheless, the decision can be left on the infant to decide.
However, it should be kept in mind that babies less than twelve months old should not be given raw pieces of onions as the choking hazard is commonly reported among them.
For babies and infants who do not like the taste of raw onion, the following methods can be used.
- Starting as cooked onion puree or mash added to different types of food such as soups, stews or porridge in small quantities.
- Initially add onion to the cooked food moderately and then gradually increase it with time, based on the recipe’s requirements.
- When the baby has finally adjusted to onion taste and digestibility, baked, grilled and roasted onions can be introduced to their food.
- Onions can be sauteed in olive or another vegetable oil and served as crispy onion rings.
- If the overpowering taste of onion is continuing to be overpowering, cut the onions into wedges and roast them at 350F for 50 minutes to bring the sweetness out of them.
- Use onions as stocks for soups and stews for the babies.
- Use onions to add a rich flavour to the regular foods by sauteing them in homemade stock and mixing them with barley or rice.
What should be kept in mind?
Babies are extremely sensitive at such a tender age, therefore, the following precautions should be kept in mind.
- It is extremely important to choose the correct type of onion when you are introducing the ingredient for the first time to your little one.
Choose onions that are firm, have a small neck and have dry, peppery skin and avoid spongy, discoloured and bruised onions.
Did you know, the smaller the onion, the greater is the flavour? Therefore choose a large one at the initial stages.
- Allergic reactions due to onions although rare is not uncommon. Skin rashes, wheezing, vomiting and diarrhoea are some of the symptoms that are observed in some babies if they are allergic to onions. Always stay alert for such symptoms if they occur after ingesting or even touching the onion.
- Consult a doctor before adding onion to your baby’s diet especially if they are allergic to food items belonging to the lily family or some certain pollen.
- Onions are high in FODMAPS and therefore babies with sensitive digestive systems should avoid them. It causes gas, bloating and abdominal cramps.
- Avoid food packages that contain powdered onions as it may cause digestive problems in the body.
- Always wash onions before adding them to food to avoid contamination from germs. However, do not rinse them thoroughly as it may cause some nutrient loss.
- If you want to serve onion as finger foods to the infants, then cut them in small pieces to avoid choking or any other problems.
To develop the digestive system of the baby, it is absolutely necessary to be weaned on to every ingredient.
Onion is extremely beneficial for the body and is bestowed with abundant medical properties and therefore slowly and steadily should be made an acquaintance with the little ones.
It is generally recommended to introduce onions after six months of age, however, if a baby suffers from digestive disorders, waiting for at least a year may prove effective.
Now go on and make the little one fall in love with this healthy and flavorful ingredient.