Cucumber (Cucumissativus) is a hydrating fruit rich in micronutrients and phytochemicals. But consumption of raw cucumber is associated with abdominal discomfort in babies. Therefore, if you want to feed it to your baby, it is good to know when and how to add this versatile food to an infant’s diet.
In this post, we tell you about the safe use of cucumber for babies.
Is It Safe For Babies To Eat Cucumber?
It is safe for babies to eat cooked cucumber in a mashed or pureed form once they are about nine months old and have already been consuming a variety of solid foods. However, in the case of raw cucumber, it is considered appropriate to wait up to 12 months to avoid gastrointestinal issues caused by cucurbitacins. Cucurbitacins are compounds found in plants from the Cucurbitaceae family and several other plant families.
Nutritional Value Of Cooked Cucumber
One cup (180g) of cooked cucumber gives the following nutrients in comparison to the recommended dietary allowance of these nutrients.
|Carbohydrate, by difference||8.03g||–|
|Total dietary fiber||1.08g||–|
|Calcium, Ca||34.2mg||270mg (7-12 months)|
|Magnesium, Mg||27mg||60mg (7-12 months)|
|Phosphorus, P||48.6mg||275mg (7-12 months)|
|Potassium, K||292mg||700mg (7-12 months)|
|Sodium, Na||518mg||200mg (7-12 months)|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||4.86mg||35mg (7-12 months)|
|Folate, total||10.8µg||35µg (7-12 months)|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone)||36.2µg||10µg (7-12 months)|
Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture, World Health Organization, and National Institutes of Health
Possible Health Benefits Of Cucumber For Infants
Like melon, squash, and pumpkins, cucumber is a versatile food that has some nutritional benefits. Its use in traditional Indian medicine has been prevalent since ancient times. Most of these medicinal properties of cucumber are attributed to its phytochemical composition.
- Hydration: Half a cup of cooked cucumber (90g) contains approximately 85 grams of water and necessary salts that can hydrate your baby. Thus, cooked cucumber puree may work as suitable food for.
- Essential nutrients: It contains considerable amounts of minerals like sodium, potassium, and phosphorus.Besides, it contains essential vitamins,such as vitamin K, necessary for various body functions, such as bone development.
- Antioxidants: Research shows that the aqueous extract of cucumber contains flavonoids and tannins that have antioxidative and analgesic effects. Antioxidants are vital for fighting free radical damage and thus boost immunity.
- Skin health: Topical application of fresh cucumber juice is a natural remedy for nourishing and soothing the skin. It is also known to reduce swelling and alleviate sunburns. However, the suitability of cucumber in babies for skin issues is not adequately studied.
- Growth and development: It contains folate, an important nutrient that helps your baby’s overall growth. Besides, it contains silica that helps in strengthening tissues and joints.
- Overall health: When consumed with peel, can help ward-off chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular problems in the long run. These benefits are attributed to the presence of micronutrients and bioactive compounds, such as cucurbitacins.
Some parents also use it as a teether for their babies. However, this should be done under a watchful eye as small pieces can pose a choking risk. Also, use a raw cucumber as teether only for toddlers and not babies younger than one year.
Precautions To Take While Feeding Cucumber To Babies
Here’s a quick look at certain precautions you may take while feeding cucumber to your baby.
- Wash the fruit thoroughly. Cut a slice of the cucumber and taste it because some cucumbers can be overly bitter.
- You can retain the peel while cooking the cucumber. If serving the fruit raw to a toddler older than 12 months, then too you may retain the peel.
- Introduce cucumber in pureed or mashed form for easy digestion.
- Feed only properly cooked cucumber to babies younger than 12 months to avoid gastrointestinal issues.
- Start feeding a small amount and gradually increase as per your baby’s comfort.
- Do not add any other new foods to your baby’s diet while introducing it. Follow a “three-to-five-day wait rule” to check allergic reactions, if any.
- If you or anyone in the family has an allergy to cucumber, then consult a pediatrician before feeding it to your baby.
- If you observe signs of abdominal discomfort, such as gas, eliminate it from the diet for a few days. Reintroduce after pediatric consultation.
- Once the baby seems comfortable with the mild taste of cucumber puree, you may mix cucumber puree to purees made from other vegetables and fruits.
- For older babies and toddlers, who have already started finger foods, thick cucumber slices can be served as healthy finger food.
- If your baby is diagnosed with cucumber allergy, then do not serve any food that contains cucumber, even in small quantities.
How To Select And Store Cucumber?
Below are some steps that you can follow to select and store cucumber safely.
How to select the cucumber
- Buy fresh, firm, and unwaxedorganic cucumbers.
- Pick the ones that are green and have fewer blemishes and pits.
- Choose crisp, firm cucumbers over shriveled or withered ones.
- Avoid cucumbers that are large and yellow.
How to store the cucumber
- Wash it thoroughly under running water.
- After patting dry, store in the refrigerator for a week.
- Try to keep it in a zip-locked pouch at the front rather than stacking them at the back.
- Avoid storing in bulk as it loses moisture quickly.
Quick And Delicious Cucumber Recipes For Babies
Cucumber may be introduced in pureed or mashed form. Once your baby gets comfortable with its taste, you may try some of these recipes.
1. Cucumber and pear puree
This is simple to prepare and easy to digest. Adding some more fruit purees to this recipe is a personal choice.
You will need:
- 1 cup cucumber (peeled and sliced)
- 1 cup pear (peeled, cored, and diced)
- Mash the cucumber slices with a fork.
- Put mashed cucumber and pear into a blender and blend well. Ensure no lumps are left.
- Add 1/4 cup water and blend again to make the paste smooth.
- Serve immediately with a pinch of jaggery powder on top for added flavor.
2. Cucumber yogurt mix
As an easy snack, this great recipe is a nutritious pre and probiotic mix that is gut-friendly. You can feed this recipe to your baby as a side dish, too.
You will need:
- 1 small cucumber (peeled and diced)
- 1 cup papaya
- 1 cup plain yogurt (or Greek yogurt)
- ¼ cup mint leaves
- ½ tsp jaggery powder (optional)
- Put mint leaves, papaya, and cucumber in a blender and blend until you get a smooth paste. Ensure no lumps are left.
- Add ¼ cup water in case the paste looks too thick. Add water until the blend has a softer texture.
- Mix the blend with yogurt and give it a thorough whisk. Ensure there are no lumps.
- Add jaggery powder for added flavor.
- Serve fresh to your baby.
Cucumber is a healthy food worth adding to your baby’s balanced diet in an age-appropriate way. For babies below the age of one year, you can steam, bake, or cook the fruit to add variety to their diet. Toddlers older than a year can enjoy it as part of salads, dips, sandwiches, and shakes.