Figs For Babies: Safety, Right Age, Benefits And Recipes

Roasted Fig Mash
Baby Tips

Image: iStock

IN THIS ARTICLE

Fig is a nutritious fruit from the common fig tree (Ficus carica), belonging to the mulberry family. It has dark green to purplish skin and magenta pulp when ripe. The pulp is filled with tiny edible seeds and tastes sweet with a hint of berry’s flavor. Generally, fig comes in several varieties, the nutrition value of which varies.

One can eat fig in fresh, dried, or canned forms to reap several health benefits. If you wish to add the fruit to your little one’s weaning diet, then know the right age and suitable way to feed figs to babies.

This post shares figs’ nutritional value, health benefits for benefits, and some delicious, baby-friendly fig recipes to try.

When Can Babies Eat Figs?

Most babies can eat fresh, fully-ripe figs as puree or mash from six months of age. Once they adjust to fig’s taste and digestibility, you can add them to other foods, such as porridge. Once your baby is nine to ten months old, feed small, bite-sized pieces of figs as finger foods.

Babies between six and 12 months of age should not eat dried figs as they are a potential choking hazard (1). If you wish to feed dried fig to babies younger than 12 months, serve it in cooked, mashed, or puree form.

Nutritional Value Of Fig

Figs offer several vital nutrients, such as dietary fiber, potassium, antioxidants, and vitamins A, B, and C (2). One small, fresh fig (40g) added to your baby’s regular diet can offer the following nutrients (3) (4) (5).

Nutrients Amount AI (7-12 months)
Water 31.6g
Energy 29.6Kcal
Fiber, total dietary 1.16g
Calcium, Ca 14mg 260mg
Iron, Fe 0.148mg 11mg (RDA)
Magnesium, Mg 6.8mg 75mg
Phosphorus, P 5.6mg 275mg
Potassium, K 92.8mg 860mg
Vitamin A, RAE 2.8µg 500µg

AI = Adequate intake – nutrient level assumed to ensure nutritional adequacy.

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

Possible Health Benefits Of Figs

The inclusion of figs in a baby’s diet could provide the little one the following benefits (6).

  1. Gives energy and hydration: One small, fresh fig (40g) provides 30kcal of energy and a considerable amount of water. These are necessary for young babies who have increased energy needs to sustain rapid growth and development.
  1. Offers vital micronutrients: Figs are an excellent source of potassium, iron, vitamin A, and dietary fiber. These nutrients are necessary for different physiological functions that ultimately support a baby’s growth and development.
  1. Provides antioxidants: Flavonoids, anthocyanins, and phenolic compounds, such as gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, and epicatechin, provide fig its antioxidant properties (6) (7). Antioxidants boost immunity and improve long-term health.
  1. Boosts digestive health: Figs contain significant amounts of dietary fiber, primarily cellulose, that adds bulk and retains intestinal water. Both these features are necessary to maintain healthy bowel movements and keep constipation away. Some research studies even support the fig’s potential laxative effects (8).

How To Select And Store Figs?

Below are some tips that can help you carefully select and store figs for safe feeding.

Tips for selecting figs

  1. Pick ripe figs with clean, dry, and unbroken skin.
  1. Avoid figs with bruised or broken skin and those that turn mushy on pressing. A fresh fig is soft to touch yet stays intact when pressed.
  1. Smell a fig, and if it yields a sour smell, the fig is likely stale.
  1. Purchase dried figs sold in the sealed packages.
  1. Buy canned figs in properly sealed containers. A dented or broken container indicates potential bacterial contamination.

Tips for storing figs

  1. Before storing, clean the fresh figs with a moist cloth. Transfer them to a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator. Consume the figs within two to three days.
  1. Fresh figs can be frozen whole. Alternatively, you can store fig slices in a freezer bag or container. Both can be frozen and stored for up to 12 months.
  1. Store dried figs in their original package, away from heat and moisture, at room temperature for a month. You can store them up to six months to a year in the refrigerator.
  1. Once the package is opened, store dried figs in an airtight container in the refrigerator away from heat and moisture. You can store them for six months to a year.

Precautions To Take While Feeding Figs To Babies

Observing some simple precautions ensures your baby consumes figs safely.

  • Buy organic figs from a reputable seller to ensure the quality of the fruit. Store them carefully as figs are delicate and bruise easily.
  • Begin feeding fresh figs in mash or puree form to your baby. Once the baby can digest the figs comfortably, begin adding the fruit to other foods.
  • Follow the “three-day wait” rule and during this time; feed only figs and no other new food to your baby. It helps rule out sensitivity, intolerance, or allergy.
  • Introduce one to two teaspoons of pureed or mashed fig to your baby. Once the baby is comfortable with the fruit’s taste and digestibility, gradually increase the amount to a tablespoon or two.
  • If the baby looks uncomfortable after ingesting figs, stop feeding immediately, and try again later. If the problem persists, consult a pediatrician.
  • Fig allergy (oral allergy syndrome) is possible, and its symptoms come up immediately after ingesting or touching fresh or dry figs. Pay attention to allergy signs, such as itchy skin rash (hives), sneezing, wheezing, or sore throat (9).
  • Babies allergic to fig may show cross-reactivity to weeping fig latex, natural rubber latex (latex-fruit syndrome), birch pollen, avocado, kiwi fruit, mulberry, and papaya (10) ( (11)) (12). If your baby has a family history of allergies, consult a doctor before feeding figs in any form.
  • Both fresh and dry figs might interact with certain drugs. If your baby is on medications, consult your doctor before adding fig to your baby’s diet.
  • Don’t go overboard with figs. Feeding too many figs, especially dried figs, may cause gastrointestinal discomfort, such as diarrhea, in some babies.

Healthy Fig Recipes For Babies

Now, as you know about figs, let’s see some baby-friendly fig recipes that you can prepare for your baby.

1. Fig puree

Image: iStock

You will need:

  • 1 fresh fig (peeled and chopped)
  • 1tbsp breast milk or formula (optional)

How to prepare:

  1. Put the figs and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the figs until the water comes to a boil.
  2. Then, lower the heat and cook the figs for 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat and set the figs aside to cool.
  4. Once they are cool, blend the figs into a lump-free smooth paste.
  5. Add breast milk or formula to adjust the consistency and make the puree easy to swallow.

2. Apricot and fig puree

Image: iStock

You will need:

  • 2 apricots (mashed)
  • 2 figs (mashed)
  • ¼ cup breast milk or formula

How to prepare:

  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend well. Ensure the mixture is lump-free and has a smooth consistency.
  2. Pour the mix into a feeding bowl and feed the baby.

3. Roasted fig mash

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 2 figs
  • 1tsp olive oil

How to prepare:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C).
  2. Apply olive oil on the fig and place them on a baking tray.
  3. Bake them for about 18 to 20 minutes until their skin tightens.
  4. Once done, take the figs out of the oven and let them cool.
  5. Mash the figs thoroughly using a fork and feed. You can add breast milk or formula if you feel the texture is too thick for the baby.

4. Fig yogurt smoothie

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 2 figs (mashed)
  • 1 cup unsweetened, plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ tsp nuts powder (almond, walnut, and pistachio)

How to prepare:

  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend into a smooth, lump-free liquid. Add some water to adjust the consistency, if needed.
  2. Pour the smoothie into a feeding bowl and feed your baby.
  3. You can add oats to this smoothie and feed it to your baby.

Fig is a nutritious fruit that your baby would love to eat. Let your little one enjoy fig through age-appropriate fig dishes, such as puree, mash, smoothie, and porridge. You can make these dishes using fresh figs, or you can consider dry figs. While chunks of fresh fig can be good finger food for babies, thinly sliced dried figs are suitable for toddlers.

References:

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