In our section «Ask an expert a question», reader Victoria asks:
«My 2-year-old son shows great interest in new food. Now the persimmon season has begun. I love it very much myself, but I’m afraid if the child sees me eating, he will also want to. Tell me, is it possible to give persimmon to a child? I’ve heard that it’s not the healthiest food for young children.»
What is the use of persimmons?
— Persimmon is a storehouse of vitamins. It contains trace elements such as glucose, fructose, rutin, calcium, magnesium, iodine, pectin, fiber and tannins. And the main wealth of the fruit is iron. It has a positive effect on the immune system, thyroid gland and kidney function. The product contains vitamin A, which helps the child’s body grow, and is also very useful for vision. It is rich in vitamin C and routine, which affect the state of the blood and the immune system. Persimmon has a fixing property that can help with diarrhea. It is worth noting that it contains very few calories.
When persimmons are harmful?
Nevertheless, a healthy and tasty fruit has specific features that cause differences of opinion when and from what age it can be given to a child:
Potential allergenicity, which has been repeatedly confirmed (as with any fruit that has an orange or red color). An unfamiliar product with a specific taste can cause a rejection reaction with all the accompanying manifestations: itching, rash, swelling, suffocation.
Being difficult to digest food, the use of persimmons in any amount can harm a somatically weakened child. It can be useful for diarrhea, but with a tendency to constipation, it will only worsen the problem with excretion of feces.
The presence of collagen and tannins can cause intestinal obstruction in an adult. Only for people with digestive problems, you need to eat at least five large fruits for this, and a much smaller amount is enough for the baby.
Due to the large amount of easily digestible carbohydrates, it is contraindicated in diabetes.
Simultaneous consumption of persimmon and milk causes diarrhea.
Thus, it is not recommended to give persimmons to children under three years of age.
For the first time, it is enough for the baby to offer no more than 10-15 grams of pulp. Then it is important to track changes in the activity of the child’s gastrointestinal tract: whether diarrhea, discomfort or other signs of malaise occur, including skin rashes, redness or other allergy symptoms. If everything is in order, the next day you can give a little more persimmon (up to one tablespoon). A baby from 3 to 5 years old can eat no more than one fruit per day.
— Bright orange sweet persimmon is not suitable as the first complementary food for a child. The opinions of pediatricians and nutritionists regarding its introduction into the children’s diet vary — some allow giving fruit up to a year, while others advise offering it only to schoolchildren. Which of them is right and when is it safe to feed children with vitamin puree?
It is dangerous for children under 6 months to eat fruit because of the weak digestive tract system. Abroad, it is customary to introduce children to persimmons at 6-12 months. In the CIS countries, it is considered unsuitable for infants at all and is recommended to be given no earlier than 3-6 years. The golden mean is the age of 2-3 years.
Which persimmon is dangerous for young children?
Astringent fruits contain tannic acids that are dangerous for children, which reduce the secretion of the small intestine, worsen peristalsis, and can cause constipation. Therefore, you should choose the ripest soft fruits.
Keep in mind that the pulp is hard, slippery and these special properties increase the risk of suffocation.
As for allergy to persimmon, it is rare and only in those who already have it for birch pollen, latex. Cleaning and cooking fruits minimizes the likelihood of allergic reactions.
The persimmon consumption rate for an adult is 150 g per day. The daily portion of the child should not exceed the adult «dose» and always depends on the age, the condition of the stomach. Add the product to the diet gradually, starting with one teaspoon of mashed potatoes and increasing the portion for a month.
Older gourmets can prepare mashed potatoes with the skin, after washing it and scalding it with boiling water. The pureed mass is also frozen to create ice cream, added to smoothies as a thickener and to yoghurts, dishes to give sweetness.
Fruit is not among the natural products most contaminated with pesticides. Compared to an apple, it contains more fiber, antioxidants.
Many components in the composition are necessary for the normal functioning of the child’s body:
fiber is good for the digestive system;
Vitamin E — for skin and eye health;
vitamin C — to improve immunity, increase iron absorption;
vitamin B6 — for the nervous system, cell growth and hormone production;
carotenoids are necessary to fight free radicals and are converted into vitamin A in the body.
Persimmon prevents constipation, anemia, can become part of a balanced diet and replace harmful treats for a sweet tooth. As with any other fruit, moderation is the key to success.