Parents are always cautious before trying new food items for their babies. Seaweed has numerous benefits, but can babies eat seaweed? Keep reading to find out!
What is seaweed?
Diet plays a vital role in determining our health. The modern-day plethora of lifestyle and diet-related diseases has prompted scientists to study foods that protect against disease and maintain overall health. One of these foods is an edible seaweed, which has a host of health benefits.
Seaweeds are aquatic algae found across the oceans of the world. They can be red, green, or brown. They have been used as food and medicine in folk remedies for thousands of years by people living in the coastal regions. There is a markedly lower rate of diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer, and other metabolic disorders in these regions. Research on seaweed has led to seaweed classification as a functional food due to its myriad health benefits.
Seaweeds are rich in vitamins and minerals in concentrations more significant than inland growing plants. They contain vitamins A, D, E, K, C, B1, B2, B9, and B12. Minerals like iodine, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, selenium, and manganese are also found in them. The content of these nutrients differs among the different species of seaweed. They are also rich in proteins, amino acids, sugars, fatty acids, dietary fiber, water, and beneficial plant compounds.
Can Babies Eat Seaweed?
Your baby can eat seaweed and you can introduce it when your baby is six months of age and is ready to start on solid food. It is a nutritious addition to your baby’s diet but only if used in moderation. The recommended amount is 3/4 tsp of crushed, dried seaweed 3 to 4 times a week. There are many types of seaweed, but Nori is one variety you can start with, sold in the form of dried sheets. The sheets have a crunchy texture, and your baby will love it as a snack when s/he turns a year old or older.
Buy the organic, unsalted, and unflavoured nori seaweed sheets for your baby. Crush and add to other foods if your baby is less than a year old. You can add it to soups, stews, cereals or rice dishes, or other soft or pureed foods. If your baby is 18 months or older, you can cut the seaweed into strips and then feed it to him/her.
Brush one side of the sheet with sesame oil or avocado oil and toast it in a toaster. Let it cool, then crush it into small pieces and sprinkle over your baby’s food. You can sprinkle it on top of rice, fish, or even hummus.
1. Gut Health
Seaweed is low in calories yet it manages to give a feeling of satiety to your baby because of its fiber-rich content. The high fiber also regulates the digestion process and cuts down the chances of diarrhea and constipation.
2. Development of the Baby
It has iodine, which is essential for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. Healthy thyroid function positively impacts the physical and cognitive development of your baby. Seaweed is a rich source of non-dairy Calcium, which boosts your baby’s bone and teeth health. Vitamins and minerals promote the overall growth of your baby and keep the organ systems functioning optimally. And the high protein content boosts your baby’s growth and development.
3. Anti-Oxidant and Anti-inflammatory
Has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that protect your baby’s body from diseases caused by damage due to free radicals.
4. Prevent Anemia
Seaweed is rich in iron and so it prevents anemia and ensures a healthy supply of oxygen to the body cells.
5. Other Benefits
- The fiber content of the weed helps regulate blood sugar levels.
- Helps detoxify the body as it is high in chlorophyll.
- Vitamin C increases iron absorption in your baby’s body.
- When combined with or substituted with seaweed, meat and cereal foods make them nutritionally richer, healthier and lessens their fat and starch content.
Side Effects and Precautions
Seaweed has a very low probability of causing an allergic reaction in your baby but it is advisable to consult your doctor before introducing seaweed into your baby’s diet. Make sure you buy only fresh, organic seaweed for your baby. Use it in moderation and follow the serving recommendations.
Marine plants like seaweed absorb heavy metals like mercury and lead from the oceans in which they grow. So do not feed your baby seaweed in excess as it can lead to heavy metal poisoning. High potassium levels in seaweed can cause nausea and weakness if your baby has a kidney ailment.