Spinach is one of the trickiest vegetables to feed kids. That’s why most Moms want to introduce it as soon as possible and ask: Can I give my Baby Spinach?
‘Popeye the Sailor Man’ is one of those special cartoon characters of our childhood, whom all of us can relate to! Who didn’t enjoy seeing Popeye’s muscles pop out to save the day, all thanks to gulping down a can of spinach? It certainly increased my interest in the vegetable! That’s saying something about the power of the Popeye character, since Spinach is one of the trickiest things to feed young kids.
Spinach is a dark green nutrient-rich leafy vegetable which belongs to the Amaranthaceae family and is scientifically known as Spinacia Oleracea. Spinach is believed to have originated in ancient Persia, which then made its way into England in the 14th century where it was known as the ‘Spanish vegetable.’ It’s not clear when and how spinach was introduced in India, but it’s quite a popular vegetable here now.
Spinach is known as palak in Hindi, keerai/pasali in Tamil, cheera in Malayalam and saka in Bengali. The leading spinach producing states of India are Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Gujarat. Now let’s look at why spinach was such a big deal for Popeye!
Health Benefits of Spinach
Being highly alkaline, spinach is considered good for the stomach and digestive system. Spinach is very low in calories, cholesterol and high in vitamins K and A. It’s a great source of several other vitamins and minerals, including potassium, magnesium, and vitamins B6, B9, and E.
- Strengthens immunity
- Regulates blood pressure
- Prevents cancer
- Maintains bone health
- Prevents anemia
- Provides hydration
- Prevents asthma
- Prevents constipation
- Maintains skin and hair health
- Improves for eye health
- Helps kill intestinal worms and maintains gut health
- Maintains muscle health
Can I give my Baby Spinach?
With all the fuss kids show with spinach, most Moms would prefer introducing spinach as early as possible so their child gets into the habit of eating the vegetable without any trouble. This makes sense, and is perfectly possible since spinach CAN be given to babies.
Spinach can be introduced to babies from 6-7 months of age. However, due to the presence of oxalates and nitrates, some pediatricians consider 8-10 months as the ideal time to introduce spinach. You can choose to wait till the baby completes 8 months to be on the safe side.
While introducing start with a spoon full of spinach puree and then gradually increase the quantity. For babies above 8 months spinach can be given in a chopped form rather than a pureed form. It is not recommended to give babies raw spinach, since it can case an allergy. Because of its high fiber content and oligosaccharides, raw spinach can have a bloating effect on babies with sensitive stomachs. Over feeding of spinach may also result in abdominal pain, low blood pressure, tremors or convulsions, vomiting etc.
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.
Tips for Buying and Storing Spinach
The most popular spinach varieties which are suitable for babies are Palak, Baby Spinach, Mulai Keerai (Amarantus Blitum), Arai Keerai (Tricolor Amaranthus), Siru Keerai (Tropical Amaranthus).
Spinach is one of those vegetables that are highly likely to be contaminated with pesticides. It’s ideal to grow your own spinach, but if that’s not possible, try to source it locally or from a trusted organic supplier.
While selecting spinach, make sure the leaves are tender and crisp. Fresh spinach will have a thick and flexible stem. Yellow or brown leaves indicate damage and have to be avoided or removed while washing.
Spinach can be stored in the vegetable crisper or the refrigerator, in a zip lock pouch to avoid moisture. Wash the spinach only before cooking, and wash it well to get rid of any mud and dirt.
Healthy Spinach Recipes for Babies and Kids