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Can Babies Have Cantaloupe? Benefits And Precautions To Take

Can Babies Have Cantaloupe Benefits And Precautions To Take-1

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IN THIS ARTICLE

Cantaloupe (also known as spanspek, rockmelon, and sweet melon) is a melon from the Cucurbitaceae family that includes honeydews and watermelons. People across ages love this summer fruit for its sweet and soft pulp.

Its easy digestibility and nutrient richness are added benefits for which you may consider adding cantaloupe to your baby’s weaning diet. But to ensure your baby’s safety, you must check if feeding cantaloupe is safe and healthy for babies.

Here’s more about cantaloupe, when and how to feed it to your baby, its possible health benefits, proper storage, and some healthy recipes to try.

When Can Babies Eat Cantaloupes?

Babies can consume ripe cantaloupe from the age of six months when they begin to consume other solid foods. You can first serve cantaloupe in mash or puree form (1). Once the baby can digest the fruit without any apparent concerns, you may add cantaloupe to other foods.

You can serve half-moon-shaped slices or wedges of cantaloupe to babies between nine and ten months. Once the baby’s pincer grasp refines between ten and 18 months, you may serve them small, bite-sized pieces to promote self-feeding. Since cantaloupe is a firm and slippery food, never leave your baby unattended while they are self-feeding.

Nutritional Value Of Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe is a muskmelon variety that can offer several nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, potassium, magnesium, and dietary fiber (2). One small wedge or slice (35g) of cantaloupe can offer the following nutrients to your baby (3)(1) (4).

Nutrients Amount AI (7-12 months)
Water 31.6g
Fiber, total dietary 0.28g
Calcium, Ca 3.15mg 260mg
Magnesium, Mg 4.55mg 75mg
Phosphorus, P 5.95mg 275mg
Potassium, K 55mg 860mg
Sodium, Na 10.5mg 400mg
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid 3.82mg 50mg
Folate, total 4.9µg 80µg
Vitamin A, RAE 81.2µg 500µg RAE

AI = Adequate Intake – nutrient level assumed to ensure nutritional adequacy

RAE = Retinol Activity Equivalents

Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture and Oregon State University

Possible Health Benefits Of Cantaloupe For Babies

Consuming cantaloupe can be beneficial for the babies in the long run. Below are some notable properties of cantaloupe that reflect its long-term benefits.

  1. Provides hydration: One slice (35g) of cantaloupe offers about 31.6g of water, meaning almost 90 percent of the fruit is water (3). This water content could provide supplemental hydration, beyond breast milk or formula, to babies older than six months. Staying hydrated is imminent for babies, especially during summers.
  1. Offers nutrients: Cantaloupe is rich in vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A and C, potassium, and folate. While vitamin A is vital to maintain healthy skin and support eye development, vitamin C boosts immunity and promotes wound healing. Folate is necessary for blood cell and DNA production, and potassium for keeping bones healthy and maintaining electrolyte balance (1).
  1. Supplies antioxidants: Selenium, zeaxanthin, lutein, beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin C are powerful antioxidants found in cantaloupe (3). Antioxidants promote overall health by combating free radical damage at the cellular level. Offering an antioxidant-rich diet from an early age boosts immunity and maintains health in the long run.
  1. Beats constipation: Cantaloupe contains water and dietary fiber that can keep your infant’s bowel movements regular. Healthy bowel movements ensure the solid food and breast milk or formula are digested effectively, preventing constipation in babies.

Beyond these benefits, studies indicate that cantaloupe could have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, hepatoprotective, and immunomodulatory effects, too(2).

Steps To Store And Select Cantaloupe

Melons grow on the ground and are at risk of contamination with pathogens, such as bacteria. Therefore, proper selection and storage of cantaloupe are preeminent for its safe consumption.

Steps to select cantaloupe

  1. Buy organic cantaloupe from a reputable retailer or well-maintained farmer’s market.
  1. Select a round-shaped cantaloupe with clean, raised, and cream-colored netting on the outer surface or peel.
  1. Hold a cantaloupe in your hands and select the one that feels full and heavy on touch as they are most likely to be ripe.
  1. Tap the cantaloupe and listen to the sound it makes. A dull and deep sound indicates that the cantaloupe is ripe. In contrast, if the sound is high and shallow, the fruit is likely unripe.
  1. The smell is another way to check the cantaloupe’s ripeness. A soft, musky scent indicates the fruit is fully ripe, and one must consume the cantaloupe within a couple of days.
  1. Discard cantaloupe that looks bruised or mushy or has deep cracks in the rind. Such cantaloupe may be infested with pests.
  1. Purchase whole cantaloupe instead of half-cut pieces, which pose a high risk of contamination.

Steps to store cantaloupe

  1. Let an unripe cantaloupe stay at room temperature for three to four days until it turns soft.
  1. Eat ripe cantaloupe the day you purchase it. If not, store it in the refrigerator at 32 to 36°F (0 to 2.2°C) for no longer than two to three days.
  1. Store chopped cantaloupe pieces in a glass or BPA-free plastic container placed within a refrigerator.
  1. Keep whole and cut cantaloupe away from ethylene-sensitive fruits and veggies to avoid odor transfer and over-ripening or premature ripening.

Precautions To Take While Feeding Cantaloupe To Babies

Below are some safety precautions to ensure cantaloupe’s safe consumption in babies.

  1. Introduce peeled and deseeded cantaloupe in puree or mash form to your baby. As the baby develops digestibility for the fruit, add different cantaloupe recipes to your baby’s weaning diet.
  1. Wash the cantaloupe thoroughly before you cut or peel it to feed your baby. It minimizes the risk of fruit contamination with harmful bacteria, such as listeria and salmonella.
  1. Before feeding mash or puree, ensure it is smooth and lump-free. It will help easy swallowing and avoid choking.
  1. Feed a teaspoon or two of cantaloupe puree or mash in a meal. Then, gradually increase the quantity to a tablespoon or two.
  1. Follow a “three to five-day wait” rule to note any signs of allergy or intolerance.
  1. Discontinue feeding if the baby looks uncomfortable after ingesting a cantaloupe. Reintroduce after some time, say two to three days. In case the problem persists, consult a pediatrician.
  1. Allergy to cantaloupe in the form of oral allergy syndrome or food-pollen allergy syndrome is common. The symptoms of an allergic reaction that may come up shortly after touching or ingesting cantaloupe are tingling of the lips or itching of the mouth, itchy skin and skin rashes (hives), nasal congestion, cough and wheezing, vomiting, and diarrhea (5).
  1. If your baby has a family history of allergies, especially with those of latex, ragweed pollen (zucchini, banana, and cucumber), or grass pollen allergy (celery, tomato, peaches, and oranges), then consult your healthcare provider before introducing cantaloupe to your baby (6).
  1. Never use a melon ball scooper to make cantaloupe scoops for babies, as they are a potential choking hazard.
  1. Avoid over-feeding cantaloupe to babies and toddlers since its high water content may fill up their tiny tummies quickly, causing them to skip the next meal. It may also cause an upset stomach or diarrhea in sensitive babies and toddlers.

Healthy Cantaloupe Recipes For Babies

Here are some healthy and age-appropriate cantaloupe baby food ideas you could try.

1. Cantaloupe puree (6 months+)

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 1 cantaloupe/muskmelon slice (peeled, deseeded, and chopped)
  • Breast milk or formula

How to prepare:

  1. Put cantaloupepieces into a blender and blend into a lump-free, smooth puree.
  1. Add breast milk or formula to adjust consistency.
  1. Feed the puree to your baby immediately.

2. Cantaloupe and banana puree (8 months+)

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • ¼ cup cantaloupe (peeled, deseeded, and chopped)
  • ½ banana (peeled and chopped)
  • ½ tsp dry fruits powder
  • Breast milk or formula

How to prepare:

  1. Blend cantaloupe and banana into a smooth, lump-free puree using a blender.
  1. Add dry fruit powder and blend again. Add breast milk and formula to adjust consistency.
  1. Feed immediately to get the best flavor.

3. Cantaloupe salad (10 months+)

Image: iStock

You will need:

  • ½ cup cantaloupe (peeled, deseeded, and chopped into cubes)
  • ¼ cup strawberries (chopped into small cubes)
  • ¼ cup kiwi (chopped into small cubes)
  • ¼ tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of black salt

How to prepare:

  1. Put the fruits in a salad bowl. Add lemon juice and black salt and give a nice toss.
  1. Transfer some salad into a serving bowl and let your baby hone their pincer grasp with this incredibly simple and healthy finger food recipe.

4. Cantaloupe smoothie (12 months+)

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 1 cup cantaloupe (peeled, desserts, and chopped)
  • ½ cup frozen mango (chopped)
  • ½ cup unsweetened Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 1 frozen banana (chopped)
  • 1tsp dry fruits powder

How to prepare:

  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until you get a smooth-flowing, lump-free smoothie.
  1. Pour the smoothie in a feeding cup and let your baby self-feed.

Cantaloupe is a nutritious food that you can feed to your baby in age-appropriate ways from the age of six months. Introduce cantaloupe as a mash or puree and then gradually progress to cantaloupe salad and smoothie. Adding cantaloupe to your baby’s well-balanced weaning diet can offer umpteen long-term health benefits.

References:

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