The weather’s getting hotter and babies crankier! Keep them refreshed inside out with these Cooling Summer Foods for Babies – nutritious and hydrating!
It’s summer, and depending upon how you look at it, it’s time for sweaty days and dehydration, or for mangoes and ice cream! Whatever the case may be, we adults can always find our own ways to beat the heat, and we can always reach into the fridge and make ourselves a refreshing smoothie or a salad.
Unfortunately, little babies cannot do the same! Yet, they also have to deal with the summer heat, and it is up to us parents to make things comfortable for them, while also ensuring they get everything they need for healthy growth and development.
So what’s the best way to do this? Through food, of course! Breast milk is the number one thing babies can have in summer, since it contains all the nutrients they need along with enough hydration. But as your little one crosses the six month mark, you can expand her diet to include some more cooling summer foods.
Indian summers are harsh, but it also provides us with the right kinds of foods. This means that your best bet is to eat whatever is in season, since they’ll be the most flavorful and nutritious, not to mention less likely to be filled with preservatives and chemicals.
According to Ayurveda, every food has a heating or cooling property, and choosing cooling foods in summer will help keep your baby refreshed inside out. Such foods help the body regulate its temperature and prevent dehydration. Now babies can’t have all of these foods, so we’ve drawn up a list of baby-friendly foods for summer, so you don’t have to worry too much!
Important: Breast milk is the best food for babies, and the WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding till the age of six months and complementary solids after that. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has revised its solid food guidelines in 2012, which now state that babies older than 6 months can now enjoy most foods without restriction. Yet, we have still listed the appropriate age recommendations for each food listed below. Please consult your pediatrician in case of any doubt.
18 Best Cooling Summer Foods for Babies
When you think of summer foods, watermelon is sure to come at the top of the list! That’s not surprising, considering they’re made of 92% water. If that isn’t hydrating, I don’t know what is!
Besides the hydrating factor, watermelons also contain lots of vitamins, particularly A and B-complex Vitamins. Watermelons are also loaded with antioxidants that help eliminate toxins as well as lycopene which improve skin health.
It is recommended to introduce watermelons after 8 months of age, since melons may cause allergic reactions in some cases. However, if there is no family history of food allergies or sensitivities, you can introduce watermelons as early as 6 months.
The best way to feed babies watermelon is to cut out the flesh, ensuring there is no trace of the rind in it. Remove all the seeds completely. Now you can mash it into a puree or cut into sticks or chunks and offer as finger food.
Check out more healthy watermelon recipes for babies and kids.
Cucumbers are the watermelons of the vegetable section – they’re super popular during summers too! Like watermelons, cucumbers are also over 90% water by weight. Being a diuretic, cucumbers also enable elimination of toxins from the body.
Besides water, cucumbers are rich in B vitamins, flavonoids, electrolytes and lots of fiber, which helps the digestive system run smoothly during summer. It also helps to keep constipation at bay.
According to AAP guidelines, cucumbers can be fed to babies after six months, but some babies experience gassiness from eating cucumbers. If you worry about this, you can introduce cucumbers after the age of 8 months.
It is not advised to cook cucumbers. Instead, you can cut it into chunks or sticks and offer to your baby as finger food. Another option is to grate cucumber and add it to baby’s other meals.
3. Coconut Water
Stand aside, soft drinks and fruit juices, when it comes to the ideal drink for summer, nothing can beat coconut water. Nature’s very own energy drink is packed with electrolytes, which prevent dehydration and nourishes the body in summer.
Coconut water is also rich in potassium, which promotes temperature regulation. Coconut water also cools the body and keeps the digestive system running smoothly. In fact, the electrolytic balance of coconut water is similar to that of human blood.
Coconut water is easily digestible for babies over six months, especially since the lauric acid in it is similar to that of breast milk. Besides, it is perfectly safe and sterile and does not require any further cooking. It can be offered to baby directly, or it can be used to make baby’s other meals like cereal.
Sometimes the solution to certain problems are right in front of our eyes, but we realize this much later! Yogurt or curd is something made in most Indian homes and served with every meal, but it has recently got attention for its probiotic benefits.
The probiotics in yogurt are great for a healthy gut and to keep the digestive system running smoothly, but yogurt is also the perfect cooling summer food. Yogurt gives babies protein, calcium as well as Vitamin D. Probiotics also boost immunity and improves skin along with promoting healthy teeth and bones.
While cow’s milk is not recommended for babies under the age of one, yogurt is an exception since it does not contain lactose like milk does. It is easily digestible for babies and can be introduced as early as six months. Opt for Homemade Curd over store bought ones.
You can add it to other meals like Curd Oats Khichdi for Babies and Coriander Curd Khichdi for Babies. You can also combine it with fruit to make Easy Mango Yogurt or Homemade Strawberry Yogurt. You can also make refreshing drinks like a 3-Ingredient Mango Dates Smoothie, Watermelon Smoothie or Ragi Buttermilk.
For many people, the best way to cool down after a hot day outdoors is a refreshing citrus fruit, particularly oranges! 80% of oranges is water, making this a great pick for hydration. Oranges also promote healthy digestion, which makes the body work less harder, thereby generating less heat.
What’s more, oranges are rich in potassium, a nutrient that’s lost through sweat. Eating potassium-rich foods in summer ensures the muscles stay healthy. Besides potassium, oranges are also rich in Vitamins A and C, calcium, dietary fiber and over 100 phytonutrients which have antioxidant effects.
While the new AAP guidelines don’t advise against oranges for babies over 6 months, many pediatricians recommend waiting till at least 10 months. The reason is that citrus fruits contain large amounts of citric acids, which may cause rashes and tummy pains. If your baby is prone to food sensitivities or there is a family history of food allergies, you may want to wait till the baby’s first birthday.
It’s best to give oranges as the fruit itself, by peeling the orange and removing the membranes and seeds from the segments. This ensures the baby gets the pulp too. If you’d like to start out with juice, dilute one part of juice with ten parts of clean water. Stick to just 3-4 ounces of juice a day.
You can also check out more orange recipes for babies and kids.
Technically a fruit but clubbed with vegetables, tomatoes are an unlikely hero among summer superfoods! Tomatoes contain up to 95% water, making it excellent for hydration, but its also an immunity super star.
A medium tomato contains 47% of the RDA of Vitamin C as well as loads of Vitamin A – both essential nutrients for a healthy immune system. Tomatoes are also known for their high concentration of lycopene – an antioxidant that protects against skin diseases.
Due to their high acidity, experts recommend introducing tomatoes around 10 months of age. Before that tomatoes may cause rashes or tummy pains, particularly if consumed raw. However, if your baby is comfortable with most other fruits, you can try introducing it around 8 months of age.
Always serve tomatoes cooked, either as a tomato juice or added to babies dishes. You can also make homemade tomato sauce and offer along with other finger foods.
This spiky tropical fruit just screams summer, and not without reason! With nearly 88% of the fruit being water, it is a great hydrator and an ideal choice for hot summers. But that’s not all, pineapples are also rich in Vitamin C – even more than oranges!
Pineapples are also known to have anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to an enzyme called bromelain. It is great for skin health and cleanses the body of toxins. Pineapples are also rich in dietary fiber for smooth digestion.
Pineapples can be given to babies over 6 months of age but if your baby has a sensitive digestive system or a family history of allergies, it’s recommended to wait till the age of one.
Start with a few tablespoons of ripe, juicy pineapple per serving. If it is too hard, you can steam or stew the fruit, taking care there are no tough or fibrous pieces when serving your baby.
You can also check out these healthy pineapple recipes for babies and kids.
When we choose our baby’s first foods, we tend to go by the current popular opinion and forget about traditional super foods. One such food is barley, which often gets ignored when compared to rice or wheat.
Barley is a great food for the summer since it reduces water retention in the body and helps it maintain its natural water balance. According to Ayurveda, barley is considered an ideal summer food, since it is vata-kapha, which means it is cooling in nature.
Barely is an ideal first food for babies and is safe for infants over 6 months since it is easily digestible. In case the baby has a family history of celiac disease or gluten intolerance, you may want to wait for a few months before introducing barley.
Giving babies spices may seem odd, all the more so during summer since spices are generally associated with heat. However, this is where cumin, or jeera, stands apart from the rest! Cumin seeds are also known for their ability to help the body regulate heat. Besides, cumin seeds are rich in calcium, iron, potassium and copper.
One of the most well known benefits of cumin seeds is that it aids digestion. This means that less heat is generated in the body towards digestive functioning. The cuminaldehyde in cumin seeds is a compound that activates the digestive enzymes purely by its smell.
Cumin seeds can be given to babies over 6 months of age. The easiest way to do this is through jeera water, starting with 2-3 teaspoons, 2-3 times a week. Another option is to powder the spice and add it to baby’s food like khichdi or rice.
For an Indian, summer means one thing above everything else – mangoes! The title of ‘King of fruits’ is not a cliche – it is entirely deserving of it. Mangoes are an example of how nature knows exactly what we need in each season.
Approximately 83% of a mango is water. Mangoes are rich in Vitamins A and C, as well as essential minerals like calcium, magnesium and the summer nutrient potassium. Mangoes are also packed with dietary fiber and antioxidants.
Mangoes can be given to babies over 6 months, provided you choose completely ripe mangoes. The mango flesh can be mashed or sliced and fed as finger food. Make sure to remove any coarse fibers beforehand.
Check out more Mango recipes here.
If you though watermelons were the perfect summer fruit, you’re missing out on its close cousin – the muskmelon or cantaloupe. With 90% water, this is another fruit that is a great hydrator and perfect for summer.
Muskmelons are a diuretic, which helps the elimination of toxins. They’re also rich in Vitamins A, C, beta carotene and folic acid. Muskmelons are also rich in other minerals like calcium and potassium, preventing fatigue and dehydration in summer.
Muskmelons are safe to for babies 6 months and above. Muskmelons have enough fiber and are easily digestible for infants. They also ensure gut health and boost immunity. Muskmelons can be fed as chunks or slices for finger food, or as a mash.
You can also check out these muskmelon recipes for babies and kids.
Bananas are among the most popular foods for babies across the world, but many don’t realize that they’re a great summer food too. Bananas are astringent, which enables the body tissues to absorb more water, thus cooling the body.
Probably the most prominent feature of bananas is its potassium content. A medium banana contains a whopping 422 mg of potassium, which prevents dehydration in summer. Being the only tri-segmented fruit in the world, bananas provide energy along with nutrients like Vitamins B6, C, magnesium and antioxidants.
Bananas are ideal for babies over six months since it is easily digestible and very unlikely to cause any allergic reactions. Bananas can be easily mashed without cooking or it can be cut into chunks and offered as finger food. Mashed banana can also be used as a natural sweetener in baby food.
Check out more healthy Banana recipes for babies .
Avocados are fruits that have occupied prime spots in must have healthy foods across the world, mainly due to the high concentration of healthy fats. Yet few of us know that an avocado is a potassium super food, containing three times the potassium in a banana!
Being the fruit with the highest amount of monosaturated fatty acids, avocadoes promote easily toxin elminiation from the blood and helps cool the body. It is easily digestible as well, so the body doesn’t have to work as hard to digest it.
While the healthy fats in avocado are great for brain development in babies, they are also rich in Vitamins B, C, E and K. All these make avocados perfect for babies over 6 months of age. Avocado flesh can be mashed easily when ripe and fed to babies.
Check out these healthy Avocado Recipes for babies.
Have you ever put an apple in water? You’ll notice that it floats, and this is because apples are not as dense as they appear – in fact, they’re 84% water! Now you know why apples are a great summer food!
Apples have a good amount of dietary fiber because of which they promote smooth digestion. It also contains pectin, a soluble fiber that is filling while providing energy. Apples are also rich sources of antioxidants, especially the red variety.
Apples are a popular baby food and can be introduced as early as 6 months. Red apples are better since they’re sweeter. You can either make applesauce for your baby, or offer ripe apples as chunks of finger food. Avoid apple peel as it is difficult to chew, and avoid the seeds since they can be toxic.
You can also check out these 30 Apple Recipes for Babies Under One Year.
15. Lauki or Bottlegourd
When you think of fruits or vegetables with a high water content, we tend to think of visibly juicy and watery produce like melons and cucumbers. However, there is another vegetable that offers great hydration – the humble lauki or bottle gourd!
With 96% water content, lauki is an excellent choice for summer. That’s not all, these gourds are rich in Vitamins A, C and folate as well as calcium and magnesium. Bottle gourds also ensures healthy skin and digestion and also promotes better sleep.
Being quite neutral in flavor, bottle gourds are ideal for babies over six months. They also pose a very low risk of allergies and relieve constipation. The easiest way to feed this vegetable is via a puree, either on its own or in combination with other veggies.
16. Green Beans
Green beans are something present in most homes, but few of us would think of them as hydrating vegetables. Whereas the truth is that these beans are nearly 95% water!
The hydration automatically make green beans a good pick for summer. But that’s not all, they also contain large amounts of calcium, manganese and Vitamins A, C and K. These beans are also high in antioxidants and dietary fiber.
Green beans are safe for babies over seven months, but they can cause gassiness in some babies. If your baby gets gassy after eating beans, hold on for some time and try again. A puree is the best way to feed babies green beans. Older babies can have steamed, soft beans as finger food.
Many homes in India have a papaya tree in their backyard, making this fruit a staple in Indian kitchens. We enjoy both raw and ripe papayas; often without realizing that this is a great summer fruit!
Papayas contain close to 90% water by weight. It also contains an enzyme called papain which promotes digestion so the body doesn’t have to expend more heat to digest it. Papayas also contain an assortment of nutrients so that they’re even used in some traditional medicines.
Papayas are rich in Vitamins A and C as well as folate and beta carotene. Papayas are also rich in plant based antioxidants that prevent diseases. It also prevents inflammation and constipation.
Papayas are great for infants over 7-8 months, after introducing other basic first foods. Ripe papaya flesh can be easily mashed and fed to baby, thanks to its natural sweetness. You can also check out these healthy papaya recipes for babies and kids.
18. Sabja Seeds
Cumin seeds or jeera water is a popular summer drink in India, but there’s another variety of seeds that is also ideal for summer. These are sweet basil seeds, also known as Sabja seeds.
These tiny black seeds resemble chia seeds, but have different nutritional benefits. They are rich in protein, iron, calcium, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. They are perfect for summer because they help keep the body regulate its temperature by not getting overheated.
Sabja seeds can be given to babies over 8 months, but since they can be a choking hazard, some parents prefer to wait till the baby’s past her first birthday. For babies, soak a tablespoon of seeds in a cup of water for 10-15 minutes. Strain the water and feed the baby or use it in baby’s meals.
While not mandatory, it’s better to follow the 3-day rule to be on the safe side, and start with a small quantity in the beginning. If the baby displays symptoms like itchy rashes, abdominal pain, burning sensation in the mouth, swelling of the face or shortness of breath, he needs to be rushed to the doctor right away.