Buckwheat is a pseudocereal similar to quinoa, and is gluten-free, energy-dense, and mineral-rich. It also contains several bioactive compounds. Health experts consider buckwheat as one of the best complementary solid foods for babies. But, due to high amounts of fiber and minerals, its consumption by babies warrants caution.
In this post, we share the possible health benefits of buckwheat for babies, its side effects, and some safe ways to include it in your baby’s diet.
Is Buckwheat Good For Babies?
Buckwheat is a nutrient-rich whole-grain, which is not a true grain but a seed known as a groat. These groats are considered beneficial for babies above six months of age. However, some parents prefer to delay its introduction up to eight months due to its high fiber content, which could be difficult to digest for young babies.
Buckwheat has demonstrated IgE-mediated allergic reactions in some cases. These allergies may increase the risk of food-induced anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) in some babies (1). Therefore, it is best to consult a pediatrician before introducing buckwheat to your baby.
Nutritional Composition Of Buckwheat
There are two most widely grown types of buckwheat – tartary buckwheat (Fagopyrum tartaricum) and common buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) (2). The common buckwheat seeds are used to prepare buckwheat flour, which is then used to make products like pancake mixes and noodles.
|Total lipid (fat)||3.72g||–|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||84.7g||–|
|Fiber, total dietary||12g||–|
|Calcium, Ca||49mg||270mg (7-12 months)|
|Iron, Fe||4.87mg||10mg (7-12 months)|
|Magnesium, Mg||301mg||60mg (7-12 months)|
|Phosphorus, P||404mg||275mg (7-12 months)|
|Potassium, K||692mg||700mg (7-12 months)|
|Zinc, Zn||3.74mg||5mg (7-12 months)|
|Copper, Cu||0.618mg||0.7mg (7-12 months)|
|Manganese, Mn||2.44mg||0.6 mg (7-12 months)|
Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture, World Health Organization, and National Institutes of Health
Besides plain flour, you can make breakfast cereal from roasted buckwheat groats. Roasted groats (whole) of buckwheat are known as kasha (7).
Possible Health Benefits Of Buckwheat For Babies
Buckwheat is considered to have several health benefits in the long run. Here are some health benefits that could accrue over regular consumption.
- Supplies energy: Half a cup of cooked buckwheat groats provides approximately 77kcal (8) to meet the energy needs of your baby.
- Contains proteins: Lysine is an essential amino acid that your baby can get from buckwheat. Deficiency of lysine in infants can limit protein synthesis and cause weight loss (9).
- Supports growth and development: Buckwheat has a substantial content of magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, copper, and iron. All these minerals support the growth and development of babies and toddlers. Minerals in cooked buckwheat groats are particularly well-absorbed.
- Boosts gut health: Buckwheat contains a considerable amount of dietary fiber that is good for the bowel movement. Besides, it helps improve gut health by promoting probiotic functioning (10).
- Supports overall health: Regular consumption of buckwheat is associated with improved health due to its rich antioxidant profile. Some of the bioactive compounds found in buckwheat, including rutin, quercetin, vitexin, and D-chiro-inositol, are known to reduce inflammation, manage sugar levels, and support heart health in the long run (11).
Buckwheat is also gluten-free and is a suitable replacement of wheat for babies who have gluten sensitivity or allergy.
Possible Side Effects Of Buckwheat For Babies
Moderate consumption of buckwheat is unlikely to cause side effects. Here are some of the probable but rare side effects of buckwheat.
- Gastrointestinal issues: Buckwheat is high in fiber; thus, its overconsumption could cause constipation or diarrhea in some babies. Therefore, it is wise to keep the intake moderate.
- Allergic reactions: Buckwheat allergy is not common but is likely in cases of overconsumption. Buckwheat is also known to have cross-reactivity with latex and rice. Thus, if you or anyone in your family is allergic to latex or rice, then chances are that your baby might be allergic to buckwheat (12) (13) (14).
Buckwheat should be fed to the baby in moderation and as part of a balanced diet to avoid its adverse effects.
How To Select And Store Buckwheat?
Here are some tips to select and store buckwheat.
- Buy organic buckwheat from a reputable store.
- You can buy loose or packaged buckwheat. But in either case, check for quality.
- Inspect loose buckwheat for dust, dirt grits, and small stones. For packaged buckwheat, look for its quality of packaging, manufacturing date, and expiry details.
- You can store buckwheat flour for several months in an airtight container placed at a cool and dry place. Whole buckwheat seeds (grains) can be stored under similar conditions for up to a year. Always keep the grain/flour away from moisture.
- If you live in a warm climate, then store the grain/flour in a refrigerator.
Precautions To Take While Feeding Buckwheat To Babies
You can mitigate the side effects of buckwheat by taking some simple precautionary steps.
- Introduce buckwheat to your baby in cooked form, only. You can use buckwheat flour or whole-groats to feed a baby already consuming solids, such as rice.
- Feed no more than two teaspoons. You may increase the amount once your baby seems comfortable with the food.
- While introducing buckwheat, do not include any new food along with it. Follow a “three to five-day wait” rule to determine any intolerance, sensitivity, or allergy.
- As your baby gets comfortable, prepare age-appropriate recipes to feed buckwheat. For example, while a well-cooked buckwheat porridge is good for young babies, babies older than ten months can have buckwheat pancakes.
- Keep your baby hydrated to alleviate the risk of constipation due to high fiber content.
- Buckwheat is not a choking hazard, yet, recipes such as pancakes and cookies can be difficult for young babies to chew. Thus, ensure their age-appropriate introduction.
- If you or anyone in your family has buckwheat allergy, then check your baby for the same.
- If an allergy is confirmed, discontinue the use of buckwheat and any products that may contain buckwheat. Pasta, bread, and pizza dough are some of the common products that may contain buckwheat flour.
Healthy Buckwheat Baby Food Recipes
Below are some age-specific buckwheat recipes that you can try for your baby. You can add a variety of food items from various food groups to intensify the overall nutritional value of these recipes.
1. Buckwheat cereal
Buckwheat cereal is a healthy baby cereal to add to your little one’s diet. You can feed it for breakfast to keep them full until midday.
You will need:
- 3 cups water
- ½ cup buckwheat groats (roasted)
- 1tsp jaggery powder
- Take water in a pan and bring it to boil.
- Add the roasted buckwheat groats to the boiling water with constant stirring. Ensure there are no lumps.
- As the mixture boils, switch the flame to low. Cook the mixture for about 20-30 minutes with occasional stirring.
- Before serving, you can add some fruit purees or Greek yogurt to this cereal recipe to intensify its nutritional value.
2. Buckwheat and pear puree
Combining buckwheat with purees adds variety and nutrients to your baby’s diet. This recipe uses pear puree, but you can add buckwheat to any fruit or vegetable puree.
You will need:
- ½ cup zucchini (chopped)
- ½ cup pear (chopped)
- 1tbsp buckwheat flour
- 1tsp virgin olive oil
- Steam the zucchini and the pear for six minutes
- Take a medium-sized pan and add half a cup of water from the steamer and one tablespoon of buckwheat flour into the pan.
- Switch on the flame, keep it at low, and stir the mix continuously.
- As you see the mixture turning creamy in consistency, switch off the flame.
- Add steamed zucchini and pear to the mixture and blend everything into a smooth puree using an immersion blender.
- Add a teaspoon of olive oil and serve while still warm.
3. Buckwheat crackers
Toddlers will love this healthy finger food recipe. Limited ingredients and quick cooking time make this recipe a favorite among moms, too.
You will need:
- 100 g buckwheat flour
- 50 g almonds
- 1 tsp flax seeds
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Water (cold)
- Blend almonds, and flax seeds into a smooth powder.
- Pour this mix into a large bowl. Add buckwheat flour, olive oil, and cold water. While adding, stir continuously and ensure no lumps form.
- Mixing all the ingredients will give you dough. Knead this dough until it becomes smooth and soft to touch.
- Take two baking sheets and roll out the dough between them to get a thin layer.
- Remove the sheet from the top of the dough layer and cut the dough into the desired shape of cookies.
- Place the uncooked cookies on a greased baking tray and bake in a preheated static oven at 200°C (392°F) for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, let them cool completely and serve.
Buckwheat is a mineral-rich seed. Besides being gluten-free, this healthy food can be cooked in various age-appropriate ways such as cereal/porridge or finger food.
Buckwheat cereal, pancakes, cookies/crackers, and soup are some of the recipes you can try for babies. You may also consider adding buckwheat to other recipes, such as stew. But keep the intake in moderation.
2. Buckwheat – December Grain of the Month; Whole Grains Council
3. Buckwheat flour, whole-groat; FDC ID: 170687; Fooddata Central’; USDA
4. Feeding and nutrition of infants and young children; WHO
5. Manganese; National Institutes of Health; U.S Department of Health And Human Services
6. Phosphorus; National Institute of Health; U.S U.S Department of Health And Human Services
7. Buckwheat: A Multi-Purpose, Short-Season Alternative; University of Missouri
8. Buckwheat groats, roasted, cooked, FDC ID: 170686; Fooddata Central; USDA
9. Lisha Huang et al.; Lysine requirement of the enterally fed term infant in the first month of life; The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
10. Yiming Zhou et al.; Regulatory Function of Buckwheat-Resistant Starch Supplementation on Lipid Profile and Gut Microbiota in Mice Fed With a High-Fat Diet; NCBI
11. Juan Antonio Giménez-Bastida and Henryk Zieliński; Buckwheat as a Functional Food and Its Effects on Health; NCBI
12. K Yamada et al.; Immediate Hypersensitive Reactions to Buckwheat Ingestion and Cross Allergenicity Between Buckwheat and Rice Antigens in Subjects With High Levels of IgE Antibodies to Buckwheat; NCBI
13. F De Maat-Bleeker and S O Stapel; Cross-reactivity Between Buckwheat and Latex; NCBI
14. David Sammut; Buckwheat allergy: a potential problem in 21st century Britain; NCBI