When Yesh was born, my mother-in-law suggested that we start her massage (maalish) with desi ghee. After about a week, we started off massaging Yesh with ghee. We had a lady come to our home to massage her and me twice a day. It was then I realised that ghee for babies has many benefits, although, after the massage she it was difficult to handle her because of all the slippery layer on her skin. Giving ghee to baby forms an important part of our culture too.
Later, when she graduated to solids, we made all her food in ghee. She has never had problems with gaining weight, and has reached all her milestones earlier than expected. Ghee may or may not have a role to play, but as science has it, and our fore-fathers claim, ghee has many benefits for babies. Let is discuss everything on giving ghee to babies in this post.
Nutritional value of ghee for babies
Ghee, also known as clarified butter or in our Indian context, desi ghee is one of the most common fats used in traditional Indian cooking. And why it should not be, given the immense benefits it offers. Ghee has an impressive nutritional profile as given below –
A 100 gm serving of ghee contains approximately-
- Saturated fat- 60.8gm
- Calories – 862.4
- Potassium – 4.9mg
- Sodium – 2mg
- Vitamin A – 60.8%
As can be seen, ghee is high in saturated fats, making it an excellent choice for babies who need to gain some weight. The high content of Vitamin A is another big factor since vitamin A deficiency can cause an array of health problems in babies.
Moreover, a baby needs almost 1500 calories everyday to grow and thrive. Ghee is the easiest and healthiest source of calories to keep your baby active and energetic for the day.
Ghee also contains Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is required for healthy brain development of the baby.
When can I start giving ghee to my baby?
When the baby graduates to solids at around 6 months of age, the breastmilk intake comes down. Some babies begin to lose healthy baby fat due to less breastmilk. Ghee can make up for that, provided it is used sensibly. After 6 months, you can start giving ghee to your baby, albeit in small amounts.
The ideal time would be around 7 months.
You can simply start by using half a teaspoon of pure desi ghee in your baby’s food, like khichdi or mashed potatoes or daliya. Or add a few drops of ghee in the vegetable purees that you prepare for your baby. Graduate to using a tablespoon of ghee per day after your baby turns an year old.
Basically, wherever you use oil, replace it with ghee for your baby.
Benefits of using ghee in baby’s food
Desi ghee has been used not just as a nutritional supplement but also as a medicine for various ailments by our very own Ayurvedic science. It is also a base for many medicines and is a quintessentially essential kitchen ingredient in India. Some benefits of adding ghee to your infant’s diet are-
- Aids digestion: Not only ghee itself is easy to digest, but it has compounds that makes digestion easier for babies who have just graduated from breastmilk to semisolids. The saturated fatty acids in ghee makes up for simplified fats and can be easily absorbed by the baby’s body
- Provides energy: A growing baby needs a lot of calories to continue his quest of discovering the world. To be on the move all the time, ghee can be your baby’s best friend when it comes to providing energy
- Promotes brain development: Up until the age of 5 years, the baby’s brain develops at a lightning speed. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) has been linked with a baby’s optimal visual acuity development. 1. DHA is found in ghee, and making sure your munchkin has some daily can boost his brain development too
- Aids weight gain: Many mothers complain that their child is underweight. Though each child is unique, if you are looking for something that will help your child put on some weight, then ghee is the answer. It is a healthy way of getting saturated fats which can ultimately help the baby gain weight
- Good for bones and teeth: Ghee is one of the richest sources of vitamin A. Though ghee has little calcium, yet the calcium from milk and vitamin A from ghee can make your baby’s bones and teeth strong in the long run
- Good for babies who are lactose intolerant: If you have a baby who is lactose intolerant, ghee comes as a pleasant addition to your baby’s diet fortified with many essential vitamins and minerals
Other benefits of ghee for babies
Apart from the nutritional aspect, ghee is good for babies when used as a medicine too.
- Ghee for cold and cough: Young babies tend to get many episodes of cough and cold due to variation in temperatures and seasons. Instead of reaching out to medicines, massage your baby with ghee that has been heated with a few cloves of garlic. Let the cloves almost burn, cool the mixture and experience the relief your baby gets
- Ghee for eczema and dry skin in babies: Itchy, red swollen skin is a characteristic of eczema, which can be quite a distressing situation for a baby. Ghee has anti-inflammatory properties and you can simply rub in some pure ghee on the baby’s skin. Ghee makes up for an excellent moisturiser and you will soon notice your baby’s skin getting soft and supple
- Excellent for massaging babies: Ghee has been used for massaging babies since years, especially during winters. It keeps the skin healthy, and has warming effects during cold weather. Must for winter babies like mine!
Which brand ghee is good for babies?
The market is flooded with many brands of ghee. If you cannot decide on one, prepare some within the confines of your home- nothing can be better and pure than this!
Otherwise, go for reputed brands like Amul and Patanjali, and never buy ghee without checking the labels. Milkfood too is a good brand. You could also source local ghee from your milk vendor or other organic farms.
Which ghee is good for babies – cow or buffalo?
This is another question that bugs most mothers. The pros and cons of both cow and buffalo ghee is as follows-
- Buffalo milk is thicker, so the ghee made with buffalo milk tends to have more fat, and longer shelf life. Good for you if you are looking to add ghee for weight gain
- Buffalo ghee has more calories but lower cholesterol than cow ghee
- Cow ghee will be easier to digest for babies since it is lighter
Both cow milk and buffalo milk ghee contain the essential minerals and vitamins, but since cow milk ghee is easier to digest, it should be preferred over buffalo ghee for babies.
Let me know which ghee you use for your baby!