We often list garlic as an ingredient in our baby food recipes and that sometimes prompts messages from our visitors. Some are from parents wondering if it’s really OK to feed babies garlic – and others are from parents saying they’re surprised just how much their little ones enjoy recipes with garlic added to them!
If you’re undecided about whether or not to include what seems to be such a sophisticated ingredient in your baby’s meals, then today’s post may tempt you into giving it a go.
PLEASE NOTE: You should always check with your doctor before introducing garlic, or any new food, into your baby’s diet. You should also treat garlic as a ‘new food’ – which means you should offer it for the first time with a food your baby is ALREADY safely enjoying.That way, if the garlic causes any digestive discomfort or allergic reaction, then you’ll easily be able to identify it as the cause.
Babies seem to like garlic even BEFORE they start solids…
Studies back in 1991 showed that babies nurse better when their mothers have eaten garlic!
In one experiment to determine the effect of second-hand flavours on nursing infants, breastfeeding mums were given garlic pills and then fed their babies between 1 1/2 to 3 hours later, when the garlic odour in the breastmilk had reached its peak. Researchers Julie Mennella and Gary Beauchamp from the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia found that the babies spent longer attached to the breast as a result.
And whilst parents in some cultures may feel trepidation about introducing garlic to their tots, it’s worth remembering that babies in other cultures may begin eating garlic as soon as they start solids, often enjoying traditional foods prepared with a variety of other herbs and spices, too!
Indeed, some experts conclude that any reservations about including garlic in baby food recipes are usually based on cultural reasons rather than medical ones. We were very pleased when this article did the rounds back in 2005, because it really exploded the myth that babies can and will only enjoy bland food!
So – aside from enhancing flavour – what makes garlic such a desirable addition to your homemade baby food recipes?
- Garlic helps protect the body against infection and may even help prevent the common cold – or at least help the body recover more quickly. This is due mainly to the compound allicin, which has both anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties (and is also responsible for garlic’s strong smell!).
- Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties, meaning it may help protect against conditions like arthritis in later life and may also reduce the symptoms of asthma.
- A diet rich in garlic may help protect the body against many forms of cancer. The allicin in garlic acts as a powerful anti-oxidant and more and more studies are showing just how important garlic may be in the fight against this disease.
- Garlic supports heart health – it may help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risks of high blood pressures, strokes and heart attack in later life.
- Garlic contains a range of useful nutrients, including lots of vitamin C, plus vitamins B6 and B1, manganese, selenium, potassium and iron.
In order to ensure that your baby gets the maximum benefits from eating garlic, try to use fresh garlic as opposed to powdered or paste.
You should then crush or chop the garlic before cooking with it, as this aids the production of the allicin that makes garlic such a healthy addition to the diet. Experts actually recommend leaving the garlic to ‘sit’ for 10 minutes after crushing it, but before cooking it, to allow the allicin to develop fully. It’s also a good idea to cook the garlic only lightly, to preserve its healthy properties (just as you would with fresh fruits and vegetables).
Only introduce a little garlic to your baby at first – and do bear in mind that some varieties are far stronger than others. We once ate garlic in Spain that was so spicy it made our eyes water. Though very tasty, it would have been far too hot for our little one’s palate had we served it in a large quantity!
You can add garlic to just about any savoury dish, as it only seems to enhance the flavour of whatever it’s added to! You’ll find many recipes on our site that list garlic as an ingredient – and to get you started this link lists all the garlic-containing recipes on our blog (plus a couple of useful articles).
What about the smell?
It’s always easy to tell when someone’s been eating garlic, as that unmistakable aroma tends to hang around for a day or two! It’s an unfortunate side effect of eating this healthy food and – although the smell is more noticeable after eating raw garlic – it occurs whether or not the garlic is cooked.
Chewing fresh parsley helps reduce the smell a little (which is why you always see parsley on garlic bread) and you can certainly try stirring some into baby’s food if the smell bothers you.
A better option, though, is to eat some yourself – you never seem to notice it on anyone else if you’ve eaten it too!
Personally, we think that smelling of garlic is a small price to pay for all the benefits it brings – plus it helps keep the mosquitoes off (pretty important here in the Bahamas!).
Does YOUR baby enjoy garlic in his food? Does he eat any other ‘sophisticated’ ingredients, or like his foods nice and spicy? Or do you think that adding ingredients like garlic to baby food is unnecessary?
Leave your comments below!Pin It