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National Nutrition Week 2021: Some Amazing Benefits Of Papaya For Babies

Diet and nutrition play a vital role in promoting health and preventing the risk of diseases in babies. Though the primary source of nutrition in newborns is breast milk, studies say that once a baby starts on solid foods, which is typically after four months, more fruits and vegetables can be added to their diet for proper growth and maturation.

According to a study, the introduction of solid foods such as fruits and vegetables in an infant's diet by around four months can help increase their willingness to eat those as they grow old, along with lowering the risk of feeding problems, obesity and food allergies in them at later stages of life. [1]

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Papaya, one of the healthy solid foods, can be allowed in small quantities along with breast milk to provide additive nutrition to babies over four years. The fruit not only helps maintain the good health of the infant, but also treats certain postpartum problems in mothers.

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

1. Treats rashes

The pulp of papaya can be an effective home remedy to treat rashes in babies. Papain and chymopapain in papaya possess anti-inflammatory effects. When applied topically on the skin, the compounds may help reduce small bumps, rashes and pain. However, medical experts suggest doing a patch test before on a small skin area of the baby as sometimes, these compounds may induce an allergic reaction and increase itching and rashes.[2]

2. May treat persistent neonatal thrombocytopenia

In around 1-5 per cent of premature newborns, neonatal thrombocytopenia (NT) is a common condition diagnosed within the first 72 hours of their lives and is caused mainly due to reduced platelet count in their bodies. The NT can lead to complications like intraventricular haemorrhage. [3] According to a study, papaya leaf extract can be a safe, cheap and effective therapy in improving the platelet count in babies with persistent thrombocytopenia, along with certain medicinal therapies. [4]

3. Heals pediatric burns

A study mentions the vital role of papaya in traditional African medicine for the management of burns and wound healing in children. The pulp of papaya is well-tolerated by children when used as a burn dressing. It is also widely available and is the cheapest way of treatment. Papaya pulp has antimicrobial actions due to papain and chymopapain and when it is mashed and applied, the burns and wounds heal at a faster rate and the risk of wound infection is also reduced. [5]

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4. Eases constipation

Chronic constipation is common in children and its treatment not only depends on medications but also lifestyle changes and proper diets. Papaya is a laxative rich in dietary fibre and enzymes like papain that may help support the digestive system and promote bowel movement and defecation in children. All you have to do is either feed the fresh fruit or papaya paste to babies to treat their constipation problems. [6]

5. Treats intestinal worms

Studies say that certain factors like malnutrition, coming in contact with an infected person, walking barefooted in soil and eating contaminated foods can cause intestinal worm infection in babies and adversely affect their health in many ways. Papaya and its seeds have anthelmintic and anti-amoebic properties that may help clear parasites through stools without causing any side effects. [7] You can give a teaspoon of papaya seed powder with honey for a couple of days.

6. Boosts immunity

Papaya is rich in vitamin A, even more, compared to tomato and carrots. It also contains other vital nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin B, pantothenic acids, folate, potassium, magnesium and flavonoids. All these vital nutrients have effective immunomodulating effects that can help boost immunity in children up to later stages in life. [8]

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Benefits Of Papaya For Breastfeeding Mothers

A study has shown that papaya leaves are one of the best galactagogues that may help boost the milk supply naturally in women who are facing problems related to the same. Quercetin in papaya and its leaves can help stimulate the production of prolactin hormones and thus, increase breastmilk production. This further helps supply essential nutrients to babies for their growth and development. [9]

Papaya is also a natural contraceptive. Its regular consumption can prevent the risk of early conception in breastfeeding mothers.

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How To Give Papaya To Babies?

Start with adding a small quantity of papaya to your baby's diet and observe whether they are comfortable with the fruit or not. If you see any allergic reactions such as itching or redness immediately stop feeding them the fruit and consult a medical expert.

If the baby comfortably consumes it with no side effects, you can start giving them papaya puree or mix it with other fruits or can mash and mix with solid foods.

Remember, it is always good to consult a medical expert before offering any fruits or vegetables to babies for the first time.

Can I have papaya while breastfeeding?

According to the Journal Of Family Medicine, papaya comes under the category of hot foods. They are important immediately after the delivery as they help mothers to recover from labour pain and increase the production of breast milk. Therefore, papaya is among the best superfoods that can be consumed by mothers while breastfeeding.

What is the best time to eat papaya?

Papaya is a great food to balance pitta and vata doshas in the body. Experts say that papaya is best to be consumed during the daytime or at lunch, as, during these timings, the digestive fire is the strongest and can help digest hot fruits like papaya effectively. It is, however, not suggested to consume papaya after the evening.

What are the side effects of eating papaya?

Papaya is mainly a SAFE food for babies over 4-6 months. It is rich in nutrients that can help in the growth and development of babies. Though the fruit posses no or very few side effects, raw papaya can sometimes cause symptoms in babies like rashes, boils and itching when applied topically.