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Dragon Fruit For Babies: Benefits, Precautions, And Recipes

Dragon Fruit For Babies

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Dragon fruit (pitaya, pitahaya, or strawberry pear) is a tropical fruit grown and consumed in several parts of the world (1). The fruit comes in different varieties that usually have a red-colored, thick outer skin with green scales and a soft-textured pulp with numerous tiny, edible seeds embedded in it.

The color of the pulp can be white, yellow, pink, or deep red, depending on the variety. Since the fruit tastes sweet-sour and juicy, offers several nutrients, and adds color to the diet, you may consider adding it to your baby’s weaning diet. But is dragon fruit good for babies?

In this post, we tell you about dragon fruit’s nutritional value, possible health benefits, and the proper ways to feed it to your baby.

When Can Babies Begin Eating Dragon Fruit?

Ripe dragon fruit has a soft, easy-to-swallow pulp that most babies can begin eating from six months of age. You can introduce dragon fruit pulp as smooth, lump-free puree or mash. Once the baby is comfortably digesting the fruit, you may add it to other foods, such as porridge. You can feed peeled, thick dragon fruit pulp quarters as healthy finger food around nine to ten months of age.

Then, at around 12 months, you can gradually begin serving bite-sized, thin dragon fruit wedges or pieces as the baby’s pincer grasp improves. Since dragon fruit without peel can be slightly slippery, it can be a choking hazard. So, stay alert and monitor your baby when they are self-feeding dragon fruit. 

Nutritional Value Of Dragon Fruit

Dragon fruit is a cacti fruit rich in nutrients, such as vitamin C and phosphorus. Besides, it contains several bioactive compounds that could contribute to overall health. The fruit’s nutrient composition is somewhat variable, from variety to variety.

100 grams of dragon fruit (Hylocereus undatus) with red peel and white pulp  can offer the following nutrients to the baby (2) (3):

NutrientsAmountAI
Water89%
Fiber0.3g
Calcium6mg260mg
Phosphorus19mg275mg
Iron0.4mg11mg (RDA)
Thiamine0.2mg0.3mg
Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)25mg50mg

Source: University of Florida and USDA

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

Possible Health Benefits Of Dragon Fruit For Babies

Below are some of the possible health benefits that your baby could reap by consuming dragon fruit as a part of a well-balanced diet.

  1. Proper eye and skin development: Dragon fruit pulp and seeds contain vital nutrients, such as PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids), vitamin A and C, phosphorus, calcium, and iron. These nutrients can contribute to the baby’s overall growth and development (1). For instance, vitamin A (beta-carotene) in dragon fruit can support healthy eye and skin development, whereas phosphorus can help maintain electrolyte balance and bone health.
  1. Healthy digestive system: A healthy gut is a prerequisite for effective food digestion and nutrient absorption. Consuming dragon fruit can offer ample water and fiber to help achieve a healthy gut. While fiber and water together can regulate bowel movement and beat constipation, fiber can also act as a prebiotic (1) (4). Prebiotics boost gut microflora (probiotics), which impart several long-term health benefits.
  1. Robust immune system: Vitamin A (beta- carotene) and C, betalains, and polyphenols are several compounds in dragon fruit that possess antioxidant properties (5). Antioxidants are compounds that combat free radical damage and enhance an individual’s immunity.

Besides these, dragon fruit intake, especially red dragon fruit, may boost an infant’s iron levels as it contains more iron than other varieties (5).

Precautions To Take While Feeding Dragon Fruit To Babies

Feeding dragon fruit in age-appropriate ways with basic precautions can ensure your baby enjoys its benefits with minimal concerns. Here are some precautions to adhere to when feeding dragon fruit to babies.

  1. Introduce peeled dragon fruit pulp in smooth, lump-free puree or mash form to your baby. As the baby develops the fruit’s taste and digestibility, feed dragon fruit to your baby in various ways.
  1. Introduce a teaspoon or two of the fruit’s puree or mash in a meal. Depending on the baby’s tolerance, gradually increase the quantity to a tablespoon or two.
  1. Follow a “three to five-day wait” rule to eliminate the possibility of food allergy or intolerance.
  1. If the baby seems uncomfortable after ingesting the fruit, discontinue feeding for the time being. Reintroduce the fruit in the diet after two to three days. If the problem persists, consult a pediatrician.
  1. Allergy to dragon fruit is rare but possible. Allergic reactions, such as itching of the mouth, urticaria, and vomiting, may appear immediately or a few minutes after touching or eating the fruit (6).
  1. If your baby has a family history of food allergies or oral allergy syndrome, especially with kiwi, then consult your healthcare provider before introducing dragon fruit to your baby.
  1. Avoid over-feeding dragon fruit to babies and toddlers to avert gastrointestinal issues, such as bloating and diarrhea, which may happen in sensitive babies. Also, overeating dragon fruit can quickly fill the baby’s tummy, making them skip the next meal.
  1. Give bite-sized, graspable chunks of dragon fruit to babies as finger foods. As the babies grow, serve thin dragon fruit slices or wedges to toddlers.

Most people eat dragon fruit fresh. However, you may use its frozen pulp to make sorbet and ice cream at home. Dried dragon fruit chips and chunks are also an option. 

Tasty And Healthy Dragon Fruit Recipes For Babies And Toddlers

Here are some easy dragon fruit recipes you can try for babies and toddlers.

1. Dragon fruit puree (6+ months)

Dragon fruit puree (6+ months)

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You will need:

  • ½ red dragon fruit
  • 1tsp breast milk or formula (optional)

How to prepare: 

  1. Deskin the dragon fruit and scoop its pulp.
  2. Blend the pulp into a smooth, lump-free puree using a blender or food processor.
  3. Transfer the puree to a bowl and feed the baby. If the puree seems thick, adjust its consistency using formula or breast milk.

2. Dragon fruit and pineapple sorbet (8+ months)

Dragon fruit and pineapple sorbet (8+ months)

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 1 ripe pink-fleshed dragon fruit (peeled and chopped)
  • ½ tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1tsp brown sugar

How to prepare: 

  1. Blend all the ingredients into a smooth-flowing puree using a blender. Ensure no lumps are present.
  2. Pour the puree into an ice cream maker and churn until it is frozen. Alternately, you can freeze the puree for at least two hours.
  3. Once the sorbet is ready, keep it at room temperature for ten minutes to make its consistency ideal for feeding babies.

3. Dragon fruit parfait (10+ months)

Dragon fruit parfait (10+ months)

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 1 cup white or pink-fleshed dragon fruit (deskinned and diced into graspable pieces)
  • 1 cup unsweetened Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup frozen strawberries (diced into graspable pieces)
  • ½ frozen banana (diced into graspable pieces)
  • 1tsp chia seeds

How to prepare:

  1. Put the yogurt in a bowl and add chia seeds to it. Let the bowl sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to let the seeds swell.
  2. Add fruits into the bowl and give a gentle toss until everything mixes well. The parfait is ready.
  3. Feed it to your baby immediately, or chill it for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. You can add more seasonal fruits to the dish to make it healthier.

4. Dragon fruit smoothie (12+ months)

Dragon fruit smoothie (12+ months)

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ cup white-fleshed dragon fruit
  • 1tsp organic honey
  • 1tsp dried fruit powder

How to prepare:

  1. Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend well. Ensure the smoothie is smooth-flowing with no lumps.
  2. Pour the smoothie into a mason jar or glass and serve it to your toddler.

Dragon fruit is a healthy fruit you can feed to babies in puree or mash form. Its mild sweet taste and smooth texture make it easy to add to other foods, letting you prepare several delicious preparations for babies. As babies grow, you can offer thin, graspable chunks or slices of dragon fruit as finger foods, letting them enjoy the fruit while self-feeding. 

References:

MomJunction's health articles are written after analyzing various scientific reports and assertions from expert authors and institutions. Our references (citations) consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Madhuri Shrikant Sonawane; Nutritive and medicinal value of dragon fruit; The Asian Journal Of Horticulture
2. Pitaya (Dragonfruit) Growing in the Florida Home Landscape; University of Florida
3. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025; USDA
4. Pissared Khuituan et al; Prebiotic oligosaccharides from dragon fruits alter gut motility in mice; NCBI
5. S. Badma Kumar et al.; Functional and health-promoting bioactivities of dragon fruit; Journal Of Pharmacy Research
6. Andreas Kleinheinz et al.; Anaphylactic reaction to (mixed) fruit juice containing dragon fruit; The Journal Of Allergy And Clinical Immunology