Seeing your baby try new things is incredibly fulfilling to watch, especially when it comes to new, nutritious veggies.
Beets are one of the choices you might want to introduce to your baby as soon as they are ready for solid food as they have a good reputation for providing health benefits to us adults, but are they safe for babies?
Beets or Beetroots are safe to serve to your baby as soon as they reach 6 months of age as long as it is prepared and cooked appropriately to avoid any choking risks. Beets are full of nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants.
Even though raw beets can pose a choking hazard, it is not a reason to completely eliminate beets from your baby’s diet. It is important for your baby to have a balanced and varied food intake. Choking risks can be managed: knowledge and preparation with beetroot is the key.
When is it Safe for Babies to Eat Beets?
It is safe to feed your baby beets as soon as they are ready to eat solid food, this usually happens around 6 months of age. You’ll need to be cautious to avoid choking risks, so we’ll discuss in this article how to safely serve beets to your baby.
You may have heard concerns about nitrates being present in beets. Nitrates are abundantly found in most vegetables as they play an important part in the development and growth of plants, although may cause some problems for us consumers if taken in excess (Source: AJTCAM).
These risks are usually problematic for children 3 months and below and not so much for healthy babies 6 months and above (Source: AFP).
In addition, the European Food Safety Authority has approved the consumption of vegetables with nitrates for children as the pros outweigh the cons, and its negative effects are almost negligible since one must eat A LOT of vegetables to see the effects (Source: EFSA).
The table below summarizes when beets are safe to be served to babies.
|There have been studies that infants below 3 months old are more likely to suffer immensely from the effects of nitrates
And babies should only be given exclusive breastfeeding at this time
|Babies should still only be given exclusive breastfeeding at this time
|6 -8 months
|It is safe to introduce beets to baby by this time
Serve beets cooked and peeled, they could also be served grated or mashed
|You can start serving bite-sized pieces of peeled and cooked beets at this time as your baby is starting to develop their pincer grasp
|Serving your baby bite-sized pieces of beets by this time is a great option.
Introducing the use of utensils to your baby is also a good idea.
How to Serve Beets to Babies
Beets should always be peeled and cooked when you are to serve them to your baby. By steaming or boiling the beets, it makes it easier for your baby to digest them as beet is still a root crop and can be tough on the stomach.
To cook beets, simply boil or steam them for around 15 minutes, or until fork tender, dump them in some cold water to stop the cooking, then peel them (they’re easier to peel after cooking, and less messy too). Then serve them as you would like to your baby. Some serve beets to their baby shredded or pureed. Both are great options for younger infants as they lessen the risks of choking.
If you are practicing the baby-led weaning style, you may also choose to serve your baby half of a cooked and peeled beet, allowing them to chomp on it as they like. Then gradually decrease the size to bite-sized pieces to practice their pincer grasp.
Beets are a natural colorant. Accept this fact early on your beets journey, that when you serve this to your baby, things WILL get messy and very pink! Also as it is a natural dye, beets can dye your baby’s pee and poop to a darker color – if your baby has pink-tinged pee after eating beets, this is normal.
Are Beets Good for Babies? The Nutritional Benefits
As discussed above, there are great advantages to giving beets to your baby. Not only are they high in fiber content, but they’re also high in antioxidants, folate, iron, and vitamin C (Source: JournalofPharmacognosyandPhytochemistry).
These are all essential nutrients for your growing baby. Folate is a nutrient that helps with the formation of red blood cells and the maintenance of the existing ones (Source: CHOC).
Iron, on the other hand, plays an important role in keeping up with your baby’s blood health so that it can carry oxygen all throughout the body, and also helps with neurological development (Source: CDC). Then, vitamin C and antioxidants work together to maintain and improve immune functions (Source: KidsHealth).
Do Beetroots Cause Side Effects in Babies?
Beetroot allergy rarely occurs, but as always, still be cautious about introducing new food to your baby. Continue to follow safety guidelines when introducing new food such as
- Introducing only single-ingredient foods for the first few months,
- Introduce new food with 3-5 days intervals, and
- Be sure to not be far from your baby when introducing a new food, and be observant and ready to spring into action when needed. (Source: CDC).
Another side note that can be associated with beets is the darkness in your baby’s stool. As beet is a natural colorant, so if your baby has consumed beets for the past 24 hours, do expect some darker stool or pee.
However, if the discoloration is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, grumpiness, or weakness, do take it up with your healthcare provider as something else may be wrong.
In reiteration to what was discussed before, as beets and most vegetables naturally contain nitrates, they are nothing to worry about. Nitrates in plants are natural, and eating vegetables does more good than harm to you and your baby.
As long as your baby has no other health condition and is otherwise a healthy baby, consuming beets is perfectly safe.
Can Babies Have Pickled Beets or Beetroot in Vinegar?
Pickled beets may not be the best option for babies, as they are usually crunchy or hard and may pose a choking hazard. These items also usually include high sodium and sugar content which are not good for your baby if consumed in excess (Source: NutritionValue).
On the other hand, vinegar is okay to be consumed by babies only if in small amounts, and preferably diluted with water as vinegar can cause tooth erosion and tummy upsets (Source: JournalofMedicinalFoods). In addition, vinegar is highly acidic and may cause some skin irritations to your baby’s sensitive skin.
You may serve pickled beets and beetroot in vinegar when your child is closer to two years old as they have more control of mouth and chewing thus making it easier for them to eat food with such textures.
With this article, I hope that I was able to shed some light on beetroot for babies. Now that you have the facts and you know exactly what you’re dealing with, go and enjoy this great food with your family, just don’t forget to have fun with it!