Why Pears Are Good For Your Baby and How to Cook Them
When you create your own baby food, you have control over what foods your baby eats. It does not take much preparation to take certain fruits and mash them up or blend them into a texture that your baby can handle. This ensures that your baby gets all the nutrients he or she needs without any potentially unhealthy additives.
Pears are a great food for infants as they start to transition to solid foods. They are sweet and nutritious, while being soft and easy to digest.
Nutritional Benefits of Pears
Pears, like many fruits, have plenty of nutrients. They are a rich source of fiber, which is an essential component of your baby's diet. Fiber is known for reducing the risk of preventable illnesses as your baby grows, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes. More immediately, the fiber in pears can help alleviate constipation.
In addition to fiber, pears are also rich in potassium and vitamin C. Potassium is an essential mineral that acts as an electrolyte to help maintain fluid balance. Dehydration is dangerous for infants, so you want to make sure that you keep your baby well-hydrated. The right balance of potassium and sodium further helps to maintain hydration.
Potassium also maintains appropriate blood pressure, which becomes more of an issue as your baby develops into a teenager and adult. However, your child is building their health, and what they eat now could have a long-lasting impact, including their health as an adult.
As you probably know, vitamin C plays a key role in immunity. It is also an important antioxidant in the body and helps to build collagen, which is important for skin and bone health.
Another reason to feed your baby pears is that they are very easy to digest, including their skin, which is the source of much of the fiber and nutrients. Even children with reflux and other digestive issues generally can digest pears. You benefit from a nutrient-rich fruit that is rich in healthy sugar but low in sodium and unhealthy fats.
Nutrient content for one medium sized pear:
- 101 calories
- 27.11 g carbohydrates
- 5.5 g of fiber
- 16 g of calcium
- 0.32 mg of iron
- 12 mg magnesium
- 21 mg phosphorus
- 206 mg potassium
- 2 mg sodium
- 0.18 mg zinc
- 7.7 mg vitamin C
- 7.8 ug vitamin K
How to Buy and Store Pears
Pears are not considered one of the "dirty dozen," which are the foods ranked highest in pesticide contaminants. Therefore, you can purchase non-organic varieties, but organic is generally a better choice when possible.
For selecting individual pears, you can either buy a ripe one ready to eat or one that you store longer. To test whether it is ripe, gently press on the pear. If it yields slightly, then it is ripe and ready to make into your baby's meal. If it is hard, then you want to let it ripen longer by storing it on the counter. To speed up the ripening process, store it in a brown paper bag instead.
If the pear is very soft, then it is ripe and might be on the verge of becoming overripe. Ripe and near-ripe pears should be stored in the refrigerator.
When to Introduce Pears to Your Baby
The general recommendation for introducing solid foods to infants is between four and six months. Because pears are easy to digest and are not one of the common allergens, they are generally acceptable to be one of the first fruits to introduce to your baby. This can be as early as four to six months.
As always, discuss solid food introduction with your pediatrician prior to doing it to ensure that it is the right move for your particular situation.
Best Ways to Cook and Prepare Pears for Your Baby
You have a choice when preparing pears for baby food: serve fresh or cooked. A ripe pear is soft enough to make into baby food as is, but some recipes might call for cooking.
If your child has a sensitive digestive system, then you might find that steaming or cooking the pear helps to make it easier for them to digest. Slightly steaming pears is also recommended for those under six months old.
Delicious Pear Baby Food Recipes
Simple Pear Mash (good for infants four to six months and older)
- 1 pear that is ripe
Step 1: Cut the pear into small chunks, removing the seeds. Peal the pear if you do not wish to have your baby consume the peel.
Step 1.5: For infants under the age of six months, steam the pear chunks.
Step 2: Mash with a fork. For smoother texture, use a food processor or a blender. You can add water, breast milk or formula if you wish.
Oatmeal with Dates and Baked Pears (good for infants eight months and older)
- 1 cup cooked oatmeal
- 3 pears
- 1/2 cup finely chopped dates
- maple syrup
- cinnamon, ginger and/or vanilla
Step 1: Cut the pears in half and remove the core
Step 2: Boil the oatmeal, spices and dates in one cup of water. Simmer in the pot until it has a soupy like texture.
Step 3: Place the pear halves on a cookie sheet. Pour the oatmeal concoction over the pear halves.
Step 4: Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Drizzle maple syrup if wanted.
Pear Parfait (good for infants eight months and older)
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 1/2 cup mashed or pureed pears
- 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal
Step 1: Mix together the yogurt and oatmeal
Step 2: Add the pear to the mixture and stir. Add spices, such as cinnamon, vanilla or ginger, to taste.
Step 3: Blend together for babies not ready to use utensils.
- 3 pears
- preferred spices (cinnamon, vanilla, ginger)
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
Step 2: Cut the pears in half and remove the core
Step 3: Take a shallow baking dish and put 1 inch of water at the bottom. Add the pears.
Step 4: Sprinkle with spices if desired
Step 5: Bake for 25 minutes or until tender
Step 6: Blend or mash for infants not ready to eat with utensils.
Pears also make a great foundation for baby food. You can blend or mix together pears with other nutritious foods, including banana, yogurt, avocado, blueberries, peaches, avocado and mango. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to learn more hints.