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Benefits Of Ghee For Babies: Good For Digestion, Brain Development, Immunity And Many More

According to a study published in the journal Infant and Young Child Feeding, after reaching six months of age, breastmilk is not enough to meet the growing demands of energy and nutrients for the baby. Therefore, it must be accompanied by complementary foods for infants proper growth and development. [1]

Ghee is a concentrated source of energy and helps provide certain vital fats, vitamins and fatty acids to a growing baby. It is a type of liquid butter that is obtained from the clarification of milk fat (cow/buffalo milk) at a high temperature. [2]

Ghee is also an indigenous milk product that is found everywhere and is well-known in Indian delicacies, along with having a long shelf-life.

In this article, we will discuss the benefits of ghee for babies and other details. Take a look.

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Nutrients In Ghee

A study has shown that desi ghee consists of around 62 per cent monounsaturated fats, a healthy fat that helps increase levels of HDL or 'good' cholesterol and reduces LDL or 'bad' cholesterol.

Ghee is rich in linolenic acid (an essential omega-3 fatty acid) and vitamin A (a fat-soluble vitamin).

According to the USDA, clarified butter or ghee contains around 0.5 g of water and 3770 kJ of energy per 100 g. It also contains 4000 IU of vitamin A and 4 g of polyunsaturated fats. [3]

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Benefits Of Ghee For Babies

1. Easy to digest

A study has shown that ghee is packed with short chain saturated fatty acids that are easily digestible by the body. As the digestive systems of the babies are still in the phase of development after six months and getting tolerant to all food types, ghee, being a simplified fat food, qualifies as a semi-liquid food that can easily be tolerated and digestible in their bodies. Also, ghee helps increase the excretion of bile acids from the digestive tract, thus helping in digestion. [4]

2. Helps in brain development

Adding ghee to a baby's diet can help promote their brain development and boost learning and memory. Ghee is packed with omega-3 fatty acids and linoleic acid, along with vitamins, that help in the development of the brain of babies. Also, consumption of ghee at early stages may help prevent the risk of degenerative diseases like dementia later in life. [5]

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3. Lactose friendly

According to a study, ghee contains minimal lactose and galactose, in spite of containing around 99.3 per cent of fat (both healthy and unhealthy) and being a milk product. Milk products are often known to cause lactose intolerance in infants when introduced at an early stage and also due to genetic factors. However, ghee can be included in a low galactose diet for babies as it is lactose friendly. [6]

4. Helps add weight

Mother's milk is the primary source of fat and vital nutrients. When babies attain six months, they need some extra amount of energy and calories which breastmilk only, cannot provide. This may lead to malnourishment and weight loss in babies. Ghee, in dose-dependent amounts, may help promote muscle and bone development in babies, thus increasing their weight in a healthy way, without increasing cholesterol levels and risk of heart diseases and obesity. [7]

5. Boosts immunity

A study talks about a medicinal preparation named swarna bindu prashana (SBP) consisting of gold nanoparticles, ghee and honey. The study says that SBP, when given to kids on an empty stomach in the morning, can help improve their immunity. The study also adds that though gold nanoparticles mainly have immunomodulating effects, adding ghee and honey modifies its effect and can help boost immunity in babies, especially those born with immunodeficiency conditions. [8]

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6. May treat eczema

Eczema is a common skin condition characterised by dry, itchy, inflamed, discoloured and rough scaly patches on the skin. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, around 90 per cent of people with eczema experience it before the age of five, mainly due to immune-system dysfunction. Ghee could be a great massage baby oil and may help soften and moisturise the skin and treat symptoms of eczema to a great extent. '[9]

7. Helps treat respiratory problems.

As per the Ayurveda, obstruction in wind channels is the result of disturbances in Vata and Kapha doshas. Though drugs are helpful in balancing these doshas, some herbal formulations, including Go-Ghrita or cow ghee act on respiratory diseases by their Vata-Kaphaghna property and may help reduce symptoms like cough, cold, swelling and fever. [10] Caution, some studies also say that giving ghee to babies before they turn three months can lead to lipoid pneumonia. [11]

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How Much Ghee Is Best For Babies?

Experts suggest giving 1-2 drops of ghee, two times a day, before infants attain six months. After six months, around a teaspoon can be given by adding it to semi-solid foods. The amount of ghee can be increased to one or one and a half teaspoons, twice a day, as the baby reaches one year of age.

How To Include Ghee In Your Baby's Diet?

You can add ghee to foods like:

  • Upma
  • Roti
  • Khichadi
  • Daal
  • Rice
  • Vegetable puree
  • porridge

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To Conclude

Feeding ghee to babies has been practised for generations. Experts say that homemade ghee is best compared to market-based ghee, as it is free of chemicals and other ingredients (if any).

Which ghee is good for babies?

Homemade ghee is best for babies as they are considered free of chemicals and added sugars and flavour. Ghee should be introduced in small quantities (2 drops to a tablespoon) to babies after they attain six months of age. It helps in the development of their immunity, brain, digestive system and many more.

What are the side effects of ghee?

Ghee in small amounts is very beneficial for people of all age groups, however, in large amounts every day, it may cause side effects like diarrhoea and may increase cholesterol levels, leading to increased risk of obesity and heart diseases.

Does ghee increase weight?

Ghee is low in calories and high in healthy fats or HDL cholesterol. It helps increase weight, but in a healthy way, without increasing cholesterol levels in the body. Children who are malnourished may often benefit from ghee consumption, however, in access amounts, ghee can increase cholesterol levels and risk of obesity.