Mushrooms are known for their nutritional content and health benefits – which is why a lot of parents are looking forward to incorporating mushroom in the tasty dishes they prepare for their kids! But what if you wish to include it in your baby’s meal? Can babies have mushrooms? Here’s what you need to know about safely feeding mushrooms to babies.
Are mushrooms safe for babies?
Mushrooms are widely used as ingredients in many delectable dishes, making it a part of what many families serve in their dining plates. Though there is no current recommendation about giving mushrooms to babies, mushrooms are generally tolerable to both children and adults, provided that they are safely picked, stored and prepared.
Here are some important things to consider if you want to safely serve mushrooms to your little one:
It is important to take note that not all kinds of mushrooms are safe to eat. There are lots of edible mushroom varieties but some of them, especially the wild ones, may be poisonous and produce undesirable symptoms when eaten. This is why it is essential to avoid picking wild mushrooms for consumption, especially if you’re giving it to your baby.
The safest option if you’re going to introduce mushrooms into your baby’s diet is to buy edible mushrooms from the grocery store. Some of the most common edible mushrooms are the following:
- White button
- Brown cremini
Freshness of the mushrooms
When buying mushrooms, it is best to select the fresh ones or those that are delivered on the same day of picking, or are otherwise as fresh as possible. Fresh mushrooms usually have the following characteristics:
- Dry and not slimy
- No cracks on their surfaces
- The gills (under the cap of the mushroom) are pinkish or brown. Black gills indicate spoilage.
- No musty smell
The proper way to store mushrooms is to put them in a paper bag or tray that is lined with a paper towel, before putting it into your fridge. This way, the mushrooms will remain dry, and the air can still circulate to prevent to prevent the growth of a bacteria called Clostridium botulinum. This spore forming bacteria thrive in a non-oxygenated environment and can produce toxins that can cause food poisoning.
- If you bought a pre-packed mushroom from the grocery, the plastic will usually have holes in it to allow the passage of air, so you can directly place it inside your fridge.
- Do not trim or wash the mushrooms until it’s time to cook them.
- Properly packed mushrooms can last in your refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Preparation and Cooking
When it’s time to cook the mushroom, you’ll need to clean them properly to remove dirt and soil from the surfaces. To do it, you can:
- Wash the mushrooms briefly in the water. Soaking the mushroom will alter its taste and make it soggy.
- An alternative method is to wipe the mushroom using a damp cloth or brush it using a wet brush.
- If possible, trim and peel the end of the mushroom stalks. Some varieties like shiitake have firm stalks that are not easily digested. Removing them before cooking will make the mushrooms more ideal for your baby.
When can babies eat mushrooms?
Mushrooms, just like any other solid foods, should only be introduced in your baby’s diet beginning 6 months of age. According to experts, this is the time when a baby’s digestive system will be more mature to take in and process solid foods.
However, many experts and parents err on the side of caution and decide to go slowly when introducing new food into their baby’s diet. Since it will be a transition from a full liquid diet to solid foods, it is best to begin with the soft and easy-to-digest food first, before you gradually add up new texture and flavors. This is why many parents choose to wait until their babies are around 10 to 12 months of age before including mushroom into their daily menu. You can also consult a pediatrician or dietician if you want to make sure that your baby can tolerate eating mushroom at his current age.
Benefits of mushrooms for babies
Edible mushrooms have a unique taste and nutritive value, making it a healthy part of your baby’s diet once he is ready. Here’s a glimpse of what your baby can get from serving mushroom on his plate:
Mushrooms are rich sources of protein, carbohydrates and dietary fiber, and what’s great about these edible fungi is that they can provide it without the fat. Because of its macronutrient content and meaty texture, mushroom is often considered as an excellent substitute to meat.
In a 100 grams of raw mushroom, you can get:
- 3 grams of protein
- 3 grams of carbohydrates
- 1 gram of dietary fiber
- 22 calories
- 0 fat content
Mushrooms are rich in B vitamins like Pantothenic acid, niacin and riboflavin. These vitamins are essential for the optimum functioning of nerves and muscles in the body.
Mushrooms that are exposed to sunlight while growing are found to produce Vitamin D2, making them the only non-animal source of this vitamin. This makes mushrooms an ideal part of your baby’s menu, especially when you live in a place where sunlight doesn’t sneak in most of the time. (We’re based out of Washington State, so we definitely know what that’s like, hahaha!)
Also found in mushrooms are selenium, copper, and potassium, which are all vital for a child’s health.
Mushrooms contain secondary metabolites like polyphenols, polysaccharides, and alkaloids that are known for their positive effects on the body. This is one reason why over 100 species of mushrooms are used as antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and antioxidant choice in traditional medicine.
Can babies eat raw mushrooms?
Generally, it is not advised for babies to eat raw mushrooms. This recommendation is due to the following reasons:
Eating raw mushrooms will increase the risk of bacterial contamination and gastric discomfort.
Mushrooms are fungi that grow in manure and decaying wood. This increases their chance of harboring various bacteria that may not be welcome in your baby’s sensitive tummy. Babies are at an increased risk to gastrointestinal distress because their immune defenses are just beginning to develop.
Raw mushrooms are hard to digest.
The cell wall of mushrooms are primarily comprised of mycochitin, which makes mushrooms hard to digest when raw. Cooking the mushroom breaks the mycochitin and releases the essential nutrients and unique flavor that is embedded within the mushrooms.
Raw mushrooms have spores that may cause allergic reactions.
Since mushrooms belong to the family of fungi, they may contain spores that can cause an allergic reaction when inhaled or get in touch to sensitive skin. These spores can be destroyed by cooking.
Mushrooms may contain potential carcinogens when eaten raw.
Some mushroom varieties have naturally occurring carcinogens. Some examples are the white button and Portobello mushrooms that contain hydrazines and the shiitake mushroom that has been traced with formaldehyde. The good thing about it is that these hazardous compounds are heat sensitive and easily destroyed by thoroughly cooking your mushrooms.
How to cook mushrooms for baby
As you can see, there are certain risks when you’ll give raw mushrooms to your little one. So if you wish to give it to your baby, mushrooms must be handled and cooked properly. Here are some ways on how to infuse this unique flavor into your baby’s meals.
Creamy Mushroom Soup
Soups are a great way to infuse new flavor and texture to your baby’s meals. They are soft, warm, and comforting for your baby’s stomach. Here’s a baby mushroom soup recipe that you may try at home.
- 300 grams chopped shiitake mushroom
- 700 grams chopped oyster mushroom
- ½ cup chopped sage leaves
- 3 large shallots (sliced)
- 4 cloves chopped garlic
- 3 tsp. minced thyme
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/3 tsp. turmeric
- 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Heat oil in a pan/pot and saute the shallots for around 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and salt, stirring continuously for additional 5 minutes.
- Toss in thyme, sage and mushrooms and mix well.
- Add turmeric, bay leaves, and water.
- Cover the pot and bring to boil.
- After around 20 to 25 minutes, check if the mushrooms are already tender.
- Once the mushrooms are soft, turn off the heat, remove the bay leaves and allow to cool down a bit.
- Blend the mixture until you achieve a creamy consistency, you can add up water as you blend them altogether.
- Serve a portion to your baby. It can also be given with mashed potatoes.
Rice and Mushroom Porridge
Just like soups, porridge is one of the easy-to-prepare meals for your little one. Rice porridge is also comforting for the whole family, especially during the cold weather. Here’s a recipe you can use to make your own version of rice and mushroom porridge for your baby.
- ½ cup white or brown rice (washed and soaked in cold water for 30 minutes)
- 4 cups water or broth
- 1 to 2 cups finely chopped mushrooms, meat (chicken breast or ground beef) and any vegetable (carrots, onions, spinach, broccoli)
- Optional: 1 whisked egg (if previously introduced to your baby) and sesame oil or soy sauce to taste
- Heat oil in a pan/pot and saute the meat with the mushrooms for around 5 minutes.
- Add the water or broth, then put the rice and vegetables.
- Cover the pot and allow to boil for around 40 minutes while stirring occasionally.
- Add soy sauce to taste.
- In the last 5 minutes of cooking, you can stir in the whisked egg.
- Turn off the heat and allow to cool down a bit before offering it to your baby.
- You can also use a blender or hand mixer to make the consistency finer before giving it to your baby.
Cheesy Portobello Cups
Another easy to prepare mushroom recipe that makes a tasty finger food for older babies. Here’s an inspiration in making your own Portobello cups at home.
- 1 Portobello mushroom
- 1 heaped tbsp. of grated Cheddar cheese
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- A pinch of ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp. freshly chopped chives
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
- Brush the mushroom cap with olive oil and place in a greased baking sheet with the cap side down.
- Sprinkle with pepper and place grated cheese inside the cap.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the mushroom is tender and the cheese has melted.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle with chives.
- Allow to cool down a bit, cut into bite-sized pieces, and serve to your baby.
Mushrooms are a healthy and tasty addition to your baby’s meals. Just make sure to prepare and cook them properly to make them safer to eat. If you have any concerns in adding up mushrooms to your baby’s diet, you can always consult your doctor or a pediatric dietician for advice.