Raisins For Babies: Benefits, Side Effects, And Ways To Include In Diet

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Raisins are dried grapes and are commonly available in green and black color. They are also available in brown, blue, purple, and yellow colors. Irrespective of their color, raisins are rich in fiber and phytochemicals, such as phenolic compounds that are known to promote human health (1).

Parents usually consider including raisins in their baby’s diet. However, the high sugar content in raisins is often a concern. In such a scenario, should raisins be given to babies? In this post, MomJunction tells you about raisins for babies, its health benefits, side-effects, and more.

Are Raisins Safe For Babies?

Raisins are considered safe for babies. But in general, raisins are considered a hypoallergenic dried fruit. Although raisin allergy is rare it does exist   (2). Therefore, it is good to consult a doctor before you introduce raisins to your baby.

When Can You Introduce Raisins To Your Baby?

You can introduce cooked and mashed raisins at the age of six months when your baby is ready for solids. Never give a baby whole-raisins. Uncooked raisins can be a potential choking hazard for babies between the ages of six months and one year (3). Therefore, thoroughly cook and mash raisins to soften them before serving it to the baby.

You may introduce whole-raisins once they start finger foods. Begin with cooked raisins, which are easy to eat or soak them in hot water over night and let the toddler use it as finger food. As your baby progresses to tougher solid food, you may include uncooked whole raisins.

Nutritional Value Of Raisins

Raisins are nutritious. They are low-medium, energy-dense food that is rich in micronutrients. They also have considerable amounts of bioactive compounds such as flavonoids, phytoestrogens, and resveratrol (4).

Below is the approximate nutritional composition of 100 grams of raisins, along with the recommended amounts of nutrients on a per-day basis (5) (6).

NameAmountRDA
Water15.79g
Energy308Kcal
Carbohydrate, by difference82.8g
Fiber, total dietary5.3g
Sugars, total including NLEA72.56g
Calcium, Ca9mg270mg (7-12 months)
Magnesium, Mg4mg75mg (7-12 months)
Phosphorus, P8mg275mg (7-12 months)
Potassium, K49mg700mg (7-12 months)
Sodium, Na5mg200mg (7-12 months)
Choline, total8.3mg
Carotene, beta27µg
Lutein + zeaxanthin138µg
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)2.1mg4mg
Vitamin K (phylloquinone)7.6µg10<>µg

Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture and World Health Organization

Health Benefits Of Raisins For Babies

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001–2012, consumption is associated with better nutrient intake, diet quality, a lowered risk of obesity, and metabolic syndrome (4). These benefits are appealing for babies in the long run. Below are some benefits that are worth a check.

  1. Digestive health: Raisins have soluble and insoluble fiber. The insoluble fiber helps in keeping the bowel movement smooth, thus help prevent constipation. Therefore, babies can be given mashed raisins if they have constipation (7).
  1. Gut microbiota: Healthy gut ensures proper growth and development of the babies. Raisins have tartaric acid and prebiotics, such as inulin. Some babies can also get diarrhea from inulin   (8). A study published in the Nutrition Journal showed that the dietary fiber and phytochemicals present in raisins could potentially help in altering the gut microbiota and promote good health (9). However, more clinical studies are required to reaffirm the findings.
  1. Heart health: The intake of raisins, in the long run, could help in lowering the blood pressure. The presence of considerable amounts of potassium, fiber, and bioactive compounds such as phenols and tannins are considered responsible for the effect (9). However, more in-depth clinical trials are still required.
  1. Oral health: Raisins are often believed to cause poor oral health due to their gummy and sticky texture. However, some studies suggest the contrary (10). A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Food and Nutrition demonstrated that eating raisins may protect against cavities due to its antimicrobial properties.

Raisins contain phytochemicals and plant antioxidants that could possibly help suppress the growth of bacteria that causes dental cavities. Also, the phytochemicals found in raisins could prevent harmful bacteria from sticking to the surface of teeth. This reduces the chances of cavities (11).

  1. Overall health: Raisins contain several phytochemicals and phytoestrogens that have antioxidant effects. High amounts of antioxidants found in raisins help fight the free radical damage and thus help in fighting chronic illnesses (8). Besides, raisins are rich in boron that can possibly help in the maintenance of bone health (12). Some anecdotal evidence suggests that raisins can increase the hemoglobin content and can also reduce acidity. However, studies to validate these claims are sparse.

In spite of the benefits, do not overfeed raisins to your baby. It might lead to some side-effects.

Health Risks Of Raisins For Babies

  1. Allergy: If your baby is allergic to mold, then they have a higher chance of having raisin allergy (2). The common signs of raisin allergy are a runny nose, watery eyes, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, skin rashes, eczema, and hives. However, in some serious cases, raisin allergy could also cause a change in the heartbeat, labored breathing, wheezing, chest tightness, and lightheadedness. In case you observe any of these signs, immediately discontinue feeding raisins or any product containing raisins to your baby and seek prompt medical attention.
  1. Gastrointestinal issues: Consuming too many raisins might increase the intake of total soluble fiber. Too much fiber can cause gastrointestinal issues, such as cramps, gas, and bloating. Some babies might even develop diarrhea. However, raisins, when consumed in moderation, do not cause such problems.

Precautions To Take While Giving Raisins To Your Baby

Follow these measures to avoid any unpleasant experiences to your baby:

  1. Preferably buy organic raisins from a reputable store.
  1. Prefer packed raisins since they have an allergy warning. Check for specific warnings such as “the product is manufactured at a unit where nuts are processed.” This will help you stay aware of potential cross-reaction.
  1. Always wash the raisins.
  1. When you feed raisins for the first time, give only cooked raisins and follow a three-day wait rule. This will help you know if your baby is able to eat and digest raisins comfortably.
  1. Do not introduce any new food while you are introducing raisins. This will help you to know better if raisins are a cause of any discomfort.
  1. Feed whole-raisins to older babies only while they are seated and still. Do not feed the whole-raisin while the baby is playing, since it can increase the risk of choking.
  1. Do not give whole-raisins at bedtime. If left unnoticed, it may lead to choking.
  1. Once your baby starts chewing soft raisins, clean their teeth and mouth properly with a toothbrush.

The following precautions ensures maximum safety and mitigates any adverse effects.

Ways To Include Raisins In Your Baby’s Diet

Raisins can be added to your baby’s diet in various ways. Below are some ways that you might try.

  1. Initially, raisins should ideally be given cooked. For cooking, add raisins in boiling water and wait until they swell up and get mushy. After cooking, you can mash the raisins or grind them to make a puree.
  1. Whether pureed or mashed, raisins can be added to foods that your baby is already consuming. For example, you may add raisin puree to unsweetened Greek yogurt.
  1. It is best to serve uncooked raisins by chopping them into small pieces and adding them to the baby’s cereal or smoothie. Keep the raisin pieces as tiny as possible to avoid the risk of choking.
  1. Raisins can be added to various bakery foods such as muffins, cookies, cakes, and pastries. Try raisins to reduce the quantity of sugar added in the recipes.
  1. You can also try giving raisin juice to your baby once in a while. Serve a small quantity of juice as an occasional dessert since raisins are high in simple sugars, namely glucose, and fructose.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How many raisins a day can I give to my baby?

There is no set limit. However, as raisins are high in sugar, they should be given in moderation. To start with, you can give a tablespoon (10 grams) of raisins a day and gradually increase the amount to a handful.

2. Are there any benefits of raisin water for babies?

Raisin water is the water left behind after soaking them overnight. In some traditional practices, this water is used to treat fever and constipation. Anecdotal evidence shows its effectiveness, but there are no clinical studies affirming its efficacy.

Raisins are a unique dry fruit. They have various nutritional and medicinal properties despite the high amount of simple sugars. For babies, including raisins in the daily diet can prove beneficial in the long run. Add them to your baby’s cereal or make a delectable dessert; they will add nutritional value to every recipe. But just like any other food, raisins need to be consumed in moderation.

How did you include raisins in your baby’s diet? Let us know your experiences in the comments section below.

References:

1. Olmo-Cunillera A et al.; Is Eating Raisins Healthy?; National Center For Biotechnology Information
2. Allergy to raisins; Victoria First Aid
3. Choking Hazards; Centers For Disease Control And Prevention
4. Victor L. Fulgoni et al.; Association of raisin consumption with nutrient intake, diet quality, and health risk factors in US adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001–2012; National Center For Biotechnology Information
5. Fruit, dried, NFS (assume uncooked), (341465); Food Data Central; USDA
6. Feeding and nutrition of infants and young children; WHO
7. Bowel Obstruction Alert; Office of Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, Minnesota
8. Health Benefits of Sun-Dried Raisins USA; Semantic Scholars
9. Snacking On Raisins May Offer A Heart-Healthy Way To Lower Blood Pressure; American College of Cardiology
10. Wong A et al.; Raisins and oral health.; National Center For Biotechnology Information
11. S. G. Damle; Does raisins protect against cavities?; National Center For Biotechnology Information
12. The nutritional benefits of raisin; Food Iran