Know The Perfect Time When Can Babies Have Ice Cream – And How To Introduce It
Sweet and cold – that is how we love our ice cream! But, each time we indulge with our favorite vanilla and chocolate chip ice cream, my baby is always eyeing to have a taste. She would not take her eyes of the soft cream on top no matter what direction I move my ice cream cone!
I always wonder when babies can have ice cream. I wanted to give my little girl a taste of the delicious cream, but I am worried if it might also give her stomach aches or any complications.
This post will give you more information about the appropriate time to give babies ice cream and how to do it.
What is In an Ice Cream?
Ice cream is mainly made of milk, sugar, and cream. There are additives to ice cream to create a more flavorful mixture or to better preserve its firmness or coldness for a long time.
Most ice cream is made up of 10% to 16% of milk fat. Ice creams containing less than 10% of milk fat are called low-fat ice cream or ice milk. Milk is added to ice cream to achieve a smoother texture. The higher the milk fat content, the lower the amount of water is added to the mixture thus resulting in fewer ice crystals.
Sugar or sugar substitutes are added to the ice cream to enhance its overall sweetness. However, there are ice creams that have evolved to a healthier mix by adding fruits or natural milk sugar to attain the desired sweetness level.
Stabilizers such as gluten are added to the mixture to maintain the consistent texture and stabilize the cream. Some ice creams also contain artificial flavorings or coloring agents to mimic the same natural flavor it desires while not increasing the cost.
Nowadays, you can see a lot of flavors in ice cream, ranging from healthier alternatives to exotic tastes. There are ice cream flavors in coffee or basil as well as fruit flavors such as mango, avocado, coconut, and pomegranate.
You can choose frozen yogurts, non-dairy ice creams, and frozen custard for healthier variations. These are available for people who have special dietary needs such as lactose-intolerant and high-sugar level.
When is the Perfect Time to Give Your Baby Ice Cream?
Children from birth to 6 months will only rely on breast milk or formula milk. These milk contain all the nutrients babies need without hurting their stomach or disrupting their development.
By the time they are over six months, your child can start eating solid foods. However, there are limitations to the foods introduced to him since their stomach may not be fully developed.
After one year, your baby may be introduced to other dairy products like cheese and curd. By this time, it will be easier for them to digest the food since their stomach is developing. It is also the right time to give your baby ice cream since the milk contained in it can now be digested in his belly.
However, experts recommend the limitations in giving babies ice cream due to its lack of nutrients. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating includes ice cream as one of the discretionary food choices, which means foods that are not necessary for a healthy diet or do not belong to the Five Food Groups.
Ice cream is considered as foods with higher fat and added sugars, which belongs to foods like cake, chocolate, sweet pies, and doughnuts.
Other Reasons Why Babies Must Have Less Ice Cream
- Preservatives – There are artificial ingredients that may be harmful to your baby.
- Possible bacteria build-up – Your child’s immune system is still weak, and some ice cream may contain ingredients that can breed bacteria due to unsanitary processing such as poor storage facility or dirty work stations. Build up of bacteria in the body can lead to infection.
- Digestion problems – Depending on the growth of your child, there are cases where babies experience chronic pain in their stomach or colic issues.
- Allergic reactions – Most allergies are still undetermined when your infant is born. Ice cream may contain ingredients that your child may be allergic to such as nuts, berries or even eggs.
How to Introduce Ice Cream to Your Baby
- Only buy ice cream from a clean and safe vendor. It is not practical to experiment ice cream on babies coming from any unknown sidewalk vendors.
- Check the label first before introducing the ice cream. See if there are ingredients that your child may be allergic to. Ask your pediatricians for a list of food ingredients to avoid.
- Do it gradually. Start with a minimal amount when giving ice cream to your baby and see how he will react. Then, gradually increase the portion up to 1 tablespoon. You can then increase the amount after several days.
- Start with the basic. Since it is his first time, you may want to stick to plain flavors so as not to overwhelm his stomach.
- Look for healthier versions. Give you baby a taste of goodness while making sure he will have the nutrients he needs. You may want to choose fruit flavored ice cream.
Alternatives to Ice Cream
Instead of giving your baby commercial ice creams you buy at the store, you can also whip up your own version, which is similar to the store-bought ones.
- Banana ice cream – Freeze a ripe banana. Place it in a blender and add cocoa powder. Blend it thoroughly and add peanut butter for extra flavors. You may skip the last ingredient if your baby is allergic to nuts.
- Fresh fruit smoothies – Freeze seasonal fruits you want such as mangoes and strawberries. Place it in a blender and add his formula or breast milk. Process until smooth.
- Frozen vanilla yogurt – Mix Greek yogurt, formula or breast milk and vanilla extract. Place it in a bowl with lid and refrigerate or freeze it. Put it in a blender and process until smooth.
- Chocolate ice cream – Gently add formula or breast milk to cocoa powder in a bowl and mix. Add cream and vanilla extract and stir well. Place the mixture in a plastic container with a lid and freeze it until firm.
Ice cream is an eye-candy and a sweet craving for anyone. Everybody loves ice cream, and babies will put all their attention to it when they see one.
But always remember that you are in control. Understanding when to introduce ice cream to your baby properly and knowing how much to give will avoid any problems in the future for both you and your child.
Before my baby was one year old, we would seldom eat ice cream in front of her so as not to induce her. But, after she was a year and a half, we made her try a vanilla ice cream, and she was smiling!
How about you? When did you first introduce ice cream to your baby? Tell us more about it!
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