Chia for babies
Did you know that chia means “strength” in Mayan? It comes from its ability to make you feel full and give you jam-packed nutrition in such a small serving. So it’s great that it has become a popular ‘superfood’ – put in smoothies, make crackers, or chia bowls, chia puddings… the list goes on! You can even use it as a vegan egg substitute.
When feeding your baby, this is an easy food for them to eat. It doesn’t require much chewing and puddings in particular go down a yummy, mushy treat. It’s unlikely your baby will have an allergy to it, though some with sensitive tummies might have some issues digesting it.
Let’s cover why chia is considered a superfood:
High in fibre
Great to keep the bowels moving! It is so absorbent that it sucks up a lot of water, and moves waste through the bowels. (If you eat too much you might get bloated, have some tummy pains and have trouble using your bowels! This is a sign you have eaten too much, or you haven’t prepared it properly, or that you need more water).
High in fats
Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are found in chia. Great your baby’s brain development!
Because it’s high in fat, it also contains some fat-soluble vitamins such as A, E and D – and they are easily absorbed as they are only absorbed along with fat.
High in antioxidants
Well, we all need more antioxidants don’t we! For our babies, cleaning up free radicals will allow their bodies to develop into healthy little humans. For us adults, it might make us a look a few years younger. Maybe!
Stabilises blood sugar
The fats in chia help in balancing blood sugar levels, and preventing the highs and lows that come with a high carb diet. Many fats have this ability, so if you don’t tolerate chia well there are plenty of other options for you – such as coconut oil, olive oil, nut oils, and specifically made medium chain triglyceride oils (such as XCT).
Chia is one of the top plant-based protein sources. Proteins are the building blocks for many bodily processes and are necessary for your baby’s development. Not to mention strong muscles, right?!
Being high in calcium, if you’re vegan or dairy free, or concerned about your baby’s calcium, throw some chia into their diet! (But really, if you are under the impression that dairy gives your baby necessary calcium, please do some research). Plant based calcium is much easier to digest and assimilate into the body, so this is the perfect choice to give your baby’s bones some extra growing power!
Now before I go any further, I want to invite you to join me on Pinterest – where I’ll be posting any of my favourite recipes that I find, as well an information about nutrition and wellbeing for babies and children. Come follow me here so you don’t miss out on any great recipes!
Chia is easier to digest when soaked (as with all grains, seeds and nuts). This is because soaking digests some of the natural external defence phytins present in these foods. Phytins can make seeds, grains and nuts difficult for us to digest (and remember your baby’s digestive tract doesn’t become more adult-like until they are closer to 5 years of age, so everything is additionally harder for them to digest!). Remember when you soak it, they can absorb up to 10x their weight in water so you might find in the morning that your water is completely gone, and your seeds have more than doubled in size! Aim for around 1.5 tablespoons in one cup of water.
My favourite recipes:
Chia Egg replacement
To make one egg, use:
1 tbsp chia seeds, and 3 tbsp water
Grind the chia in a processor, then add the water and mix
Let settle for around 5 minutes and it’s ready!
(You can buy chia pre-ground, but the fats can go rancid quickly when exposed to oxygen, heat and light – [just like olive oil from a few weeks ago] – so you’ll need to store it in a dark, cool place, or buy seeds and grind yourself)
Simply double the recipe when you require two eggs.
These three recipes below are all favourites in our household! I’m all for meals that quick and easy to make, but pack a punch when it comes to nutrition. After all, food is medicine, and you want your baby (and hopefully your own body) to have the best quality meals possible.
Egg Chia Muffins (These are AMAZING!)
Strawberries and Cream Chia pudding (avoid the honey before 12moa, but easily switch to coconut syrup) – click here
Quinoa and Chia Bread (gluten free, vegan!) – here