Watermelon, one of the champion fruits of summer, provides various health benefits for babies which include maintaining hydration level during summers, strengthening the immune system, bone development, produces red blood cells, increases haemoglobin level and improves brain function.
As summer is fast approaching, we would like to start a series of Summer Special articles for all those cute little ones out there. As a part of it, the first article is about Watermelon for babies.
Watermelon is a tropical fruit which is believed to have originated in South Africa. There are evidences of Watermelon being cultivated by ancient Egyptians. Later on, Watermelon found its way to the Mediterranean, Arabian countries, Europe, Asia and finally the Americas in the 16th century. Right now, about 1200 varieties of Watermelon are being cultivated all over the world. Today, China is the largest producer of Watermelons.
The size of watermelon ranges from 20-30 cm in length and at least 15 cm in breadth. The flesh of watermelon is mostly deep red, pink, orange and yellow colours. Watermelon contains about 7% flesh and the rest of the 93% is water.
Nutritional facts about Watermelon
According to the National Nutrient Database from the US Department of Agriculture, the nutrients found in watermelon include
|Nutrients||Value per 100 g||Nutrients||Value per 100 g|
|Water||91.45 g||Energy||30 kcal|
|Protein||0.61 g||Total lipid||0.15 g|
|Carbohydrates||7.55 g||Fiber||0.4 g|
|Sugars||6.2 g||Calcium||7 mg|
|Iron||0.24 mg||Magnesium||11 mg|
|Phosphorous||112 mg||Sodium||1 mg|
|Zinc||0.1 mg||Vitamin C||8.1 mg|
|Thiamin||0.033 mg||Niacin||0.178 mg|
|Vitamin B-6||0.045 mg||Folate||3 ug|
|Vitamin A||569 IU||Vitamin E||0.05 mg|
|Vitamin K||0.1 ug|
Can watermelon be fed to babies?
Yes, watermelons can be introduced to your baby’s diet between 6-8 months of age. As the fruit has so much water in it, it is a good choice during summers. As the coming months are hot summer months, you can start feeding your child with watermelon, if he or she is at least 6 months of age.
Benefits of watermelon
Watermelon has numerous benefits which make it an ideal fruit during summers. Some of the benefits include:
Helps to maintain hydration levels: Maintaining proper hydration levels in the body is crucial during summer time. Hot summer reduces the hydration level in the body. During summers, having watermelon either during peak hot times during the day or afternoon is very useful in restoring water content in the body. As the flesh of watermelon contains about 93% of water, watermelon seems like an ideal fruit during summers.
Rich in Vitamin C: Vitamin C is one of the essential vitamins in our diet. Vitamin C helps in strengthening the immune system, helps in increasing red blood cells and haemoglobin through iron absorption.
High in Vitamin A: Vitamin A is another very important vitamin. We all know, that vitamin A is highly recommended for eye sight. Apart from eye sight, vitamin A is useful for healthy teeth, healthy skin, soft tissue and mucus membranes.
Good for bone development: Giving watermelon to your baby is also useful for bone development as well. Watermelon contains calcium and magnesium, both of which are useful for bone development. Calcium is also important for hormone secretion in the body. Magnesium on the other hand is needed for muscle building and nerve function in babies also.
Various benefits of Vitamin B complex: Vitamin B complex includes a set of vitamins, each of which provides various benefits. Some of them include formation of red blood cells, nervous system development, strengthening the immune system and protein, carbohydrate metabolism.
Precautions to be taken while feeding your baby with watermelon
Here are some of the precautions while feeding your baby with watermelon.
- The age of the baby must be between 6-8 months when you first give watermelon. As such, watermelon does not cause any allergic reactions, but just to be sure and on safe side.
- The texture of the fruit is also very important. As watermelon is a watery fruit, most people think that giving juice is better than giving chunks of it. But, feeding your baby with juice is not a good idea. Fruit juice to babies increases the risk of dental cavities and the baby would hardly be interested in eating solid foods. So, give only bite sized pieces to your baby. If you are not sure, whether your baby would eat them, try mashing them up a little bit.
- When feeding babies, make sure that the fruit is of high quality. Do not feed your baby with pre-cut fruits. Pre-cut fruits have high risk of contaminations. Instead, buy the whole fruit which has properly ripened.
- Cut this fruit at home. Take out a small or medium sized piece and cover the rest of the fruit in polythene cover to be stored in refrigerator. When you use the frozen fruit again, make sure that the fruit reaches room temperature before you give it to your baby. Or else, your baby might catch cold.
- Another important precaution while handling watermelon. Remove each and every seed before you give it to your baby. The fruit is filled with many seeds and there is a risk of choking.
Interesting fact: Generally we see round shaped watermelons, but in Japan, we can find square shaped watermelons. For easy packaging, farmers in Japan developed cube shaped melons. Wonder how round melons are converted into cube shape? Simple, they place young watermelons to grow inside transparent plastic boxes.