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All of us want our babies to grow into healthy and happy humans' beings. And healthy eating habits develop as soon as the children start solid foods at the age of 6 months. We need to encourage our kids to love eating healthy food, real, nutritious food, less fast food, less junk food and they need to see us lead by example. When they start young, they develop habits for a lifetime.
Our little babies are our motivation to unlearn and learn a lot of things Babies start to get their first set of teeth at 6-8 months of age. This is when we should start introducing semi-solid foods to them.
A few points to be careful about when introducing solid foods:
1. Always prepare the food fresh and serve it. Do not store it for a long time, do not reheat and serve.
2. Stay away from plastic cookware. Use steel or ceramic/glassware.
3. Babies should be given home-made foods with fresh ingredients made from scratch.
4. Although nutrition is a big factor when giving new foods to babies, we should include new foods at a gradual pace- one food at a time. Do not include too many foods together.
Before I mention some very nutritious recipes that do great for a baby's health, I would like to emphasise on the fact that we should feed our babies to give them nutrition, food that makes them happy, food that makes them satiated.
Do not focus on making babies fat and chubby by feeding excessive fats. Please add the required quantity of fat but not in excess.
Including excessive fats in their meals have two major drawbacks:
- Excessive fats make the meal calorie dense and are very hard to digest. It takes a longer time to digest a meal higher in fat content. This might lead to the baby not feeling hungry for the next mealtime.
- They develop taste buds for eating food with higher fat content and might not like usual foods later on.
Nutritionist-Approved Recipes For Babies
(1) Broken Wheat Daliya With Jaggery:
This is a milk-based dish.
- Ingredients: 1 spoon broken wheat / daliya, 1 tsp ghee, 1 cup water, 1 cup milk and 1 tsp jaggery/crushed raisins
- Method: Sauté the broken wheat in ghee till it slightly changes colour. Add 1 cup water and jaggery in it and pressure cook for 1 whistle. Once the pressure releases, add milk, mix and feed the baby. If you want to add raisin instead of jaggery, soak the raisins in warm milk for some time before you can grind and add it. You can also pressure cook it with daliya and hand crush it later.
(2) Amaranth Grain Daliya:
Amaranth grain is a fantastic source of complete protein and should be a part of the baby's meal. It is made the same way the broken wheat daliya is prepared.
(3) Brocolli And Almond Soup:
This is also a protein and nutrient-rich soup that can be given to babies.
- Ingredients: 3 almonds, small onion, ghee, broccoli and water.
- Method: Soak 3 almonds for 4 hours peel and keep aside.Saute onion and garlic in 1 tsp ghee. Once it turns translucent, add the broccoli florets and pressure cook for 2 whistles. Once cooled, grind it along with the peeled almonds and just a little water.Strain, add milk, salt and pepper and serve fresh.
(4) Vegetable Soups:
All soups are made the same way. The basic steps are mentioned below, and vegetable combinations are also given. You can prepare the base and then add vegetables as per choice and combination given below:
• Sautee onion and garlic in 1 tsp ghee. Once it turns translucent, add the spinach and pressure cook for 2 whistles. Grind, strain and add milk, salt and pepper and serve fresh.
• Sauté onion and garlic in 1 tsp ghee. Once it turns translucent, add carrot, tomato and pressure cook for 2 whistles. Grind, strain and add salt and pepper and serve fresh.
• Similarly you can try other options as corn or mushroom.
• Make sure to introduce a maximum of two vegetables at a time to see that the baby is absorbing it well.
(5) Ragi Dosa:
Ragi is a fantastic addition to the diet of a baby. It is extremely rich in calcium and iron.
- Ingredients: 1 tbsp ragi, ½ tbsp wheat / sooji. Add both and make into a paste form with water. Add salt and set aside for an hour.
- Method: Cook this like dosa and keep it soft so it is easy for the baby to chew.
(6) Ragi Kheer:
- Ingredients: 1 tsp ghee, 1 tbsp ragi flour, jaggery and ½ cup milk ( as per consistency desired).
- Method: Roast the ragi in ghee for 10 minutes on low flame. Once done, add the milk in batches as the ragi quickly forms lumps. Once the desired consistency is reached add jaggery and serve immediately. Once the ragi cools down, it gets thick. Please serve once made.
(7) Lentils / Pulses / Dals:
When introducing dal for the first time, serve it without the tempering. Only add salt and serve in liquid consistency.
By the time the baby turns 8-9 months old, he can have the dal that you eat along with tempering with rice or small pieces of mashed roti as well.
(8) Vegetable Idlis:
Prepare the idli batter with fermentation in the traditional way. Once the batter is ready, you can add pureed vegetables like carrot, beetroot, bottle gourd and the likes and give it to the baby. This makes for a portion of very good finger food and children enjoy eating it by themselves.
You can try adding millet flours like ragi and amaranth to the idli batter to increase the nutrient quotient of the food.
(9) Puffed Rice And Puffed Amaranth Grains:
These make for a nutritious mid-meal snack and can be eaten by babies themselves thus encouraging them to feed themselves and enhance their gross motor skills.
On A Final Note…
Please introduce foods slowly and make the child eat the same foods you eat as a part of your tradition. When a baby is given home-cooked meals that a family eats together, he develops the same taste buds and tends to be less fussy about eating certain foods.