Proper feeding is necessary to ensure the normal growth and development of infants or babies. Infancy is the period of rapid growth and the foundation of future health is led during this first year of life. Breast milk is the First normal food for the baby and is thought very important because it provides the nutrients needed in proportions suited to the infant's rapid growth needs. Also, the capacity of the stomach of the infants and the ability to digest various food components changes rapidly.
Due to the high basal metabolic rate, energy requirements are highest per unit of body weight in the first year of life, as compared to the subsequent years of growing up to adulthood. So, it is important to introduce solid at the age of five to six months. Though the infant brings the food out, it is normal for the ability to swallow is developed very slowly. Hence the food should be soft and of smooth consistency.
Here are some traditionally prepared homemade infant foods which are ideal for babies of 4 months to 12 months. The following homemade infant foods help to feed the babies with wholesome goodness.
This is considered to be a complete meal not only for babies but also for adults. Though ingredients used are less in numbers in the case of babies. Khichdi is very nutritious and easy to digest for the kids. It can be served to 6 months and above-aged babies. It is prepared by washing lentils generally moong daal (husked split green gram or yellow mung) or tuvar dal (split pigeon peas) with rice in a proportion of 1:4(daal: rice). The daal and rice are soaked for at least 30 to 60 minutes and freshly cut vegetables like pumpkins, carrots, bottle gourd, spinach, and methi are added and cooked in a pressure cooker at medium flame for two whistles. Avoid potatoes or sweet potatoes with daal Khichdi, because the combination may lead to stomach upset in babies. Later mash the final mixture to get the desired smooth and liquid texture. Feed it warm, as it aids the digestion of babies.
2. Suji (Semolina) Halwa-
Suji or Rava is made during the grinding of wheat to wheat flour. It is considered to be the first baby food in some parts of Northern India. Suji porridge or halwa or halwa is easily digestible baby food. Since semolina is one of the best baby foods, one should not take a chance if the baby is an allergen to gluten. It is recommended to serve semolina at an interval of 3 days to check for allergy symptoms due to gluten intolerance.
Suji has a bundle of nutritive values, it's a rich source of iron, potassium, manganese, proteins, carbohydrates, Vitamin A, B6, and E. Also, it's helpful to keep the heart strong and is good for the nervous system. Suji halwa cooked with vegetables can be an all-around nutritious choice. Nevertheless, it acts as a quick-pick healthy recipe for moms with busy schedules. It can be prepared in a pan. Semolina is sauteed in ghee melted in the hot pan. Then water is added to the roasted suji slowly while stirring to avoid lumps and boiled vegetables (generally carrots) are added, which gives the meal an extra dose of goodness. The entire mass is mashed to get a liquid texture. Lastly, the jaggery syrup is poured and mixed. Although it should be noted that, when milk is used instead of water jaggery should be added after turning off the flames, to prevent milk coagulation. Suji halwa is best for babies with a sweet tooth.
Kheer is again a popular infant food since it's easily digestible and nutritious too when fruit purees are added instead of sugar for sweetening. Rice kheer is a good source of protein for toddlers. For cooking, rice is washed and soaked in water for 30-50 minutes. Meanwhile, milk is boiled at a low flame. The soaked rice is ground into a smooth paste and gushed in the boiling milk along with stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Dry-fruit purees can also be added to enhance the flavor. Almonds, raisins, dates are steeped in warm water for 5 minutes, further blended to turn into a thick puree—these purees play a versatile role in the kitchen no doubt. The kheer is cooked for two to five minutes until the mixture boils, ghee is eventually added after the flames are turned off. This recipe is perfect for babies who are newly introduced to solid foods.
4. Egg yolks (for babies 4-6 months and older)-
An egg is a protein-rich versatile feed for growing munchkins. The egg contains almost all the proteins required for cell divisions and muscle growth. Although eggs are highly nutritious, the digestive system of infants is seldom allergic to eggs especially egg whites. Around 2% of the infants' population show allergic symptoms towards egg whites. However, kids who have not been familiar with the eggs at an early age are more susceptible to catch the allergy. So, it is nowadays recommended to add egg yolks to the diet of the babies when they reach 4months of age. Apart from proteins, the egg yolk contains iron, vitamins, (A, B6, etc), and minerals (chlorine, phosphorus) which are valuable additions to the baby's diets. For infants, hard-cooked egg yolks seem to agree well. Though a very small amount is given in the beginning. The yolk can be diluted with water and feed with teaspoons. And as they grow the amount can be increased to meet their dietary needs.
5. Fruit puree ( for 5 months and above babies)- Fruits, mashed and strained are a promising preference to add in the diet plan of the infants. Since sugar is refrained to be added, fruits puree plays the role of a much healthier alternate. Apples, mangoes, bananas, papayas, etc, and such mild-flavored fruits in a small amount are preferred for the same. To make fruit puree the fruit is cleaned, and the pulp is blended to a required texture. These mild-flavored fruits are a good choice, to begin with.
Steamed besan dhokla is another homemade nutritious option to introduce the child (for babies 13 months and old) to diverse tastes and textures. Loaded with goodness, besan is one of the best sources of proteins in vegetarian families. Some babies have a dislike towards a few veggies, so a little cheating by adding vegetables will work efficiently in adding the missing minerals in the diet plan. Beetroots and carrots go best with dhokla in these terms.
Here is a sneak peek insight into the cooking of vegetable steamed dhokla. Firstly besan, suji, curd, and vegetable purees are mixed thoroughly. Spices, 1/4 teaspoons of ginger paste, and roasted jeera powder each are added. Salt is an optional aspect and can be omitted if the baby lies below 1 year of age. Baking soda is added as per the quantity of the mixture and the batter is kept for setting for about 15-20 minutes. The batter is steamed and is ready to feed the kids. Steamed dhokla is light for digestion, curd provides all the goodness of fermented food, like maintaining a healthy gut by breaking down the large fat molecules easily. Also, the child's digestive system and bowel movements get more regulated.