Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Home-made baby food!

A market place flooded with convenience foods for all, adults and children alike, there is hardly any incentive to cook food at home especially when the new mother is sleep deprived and tired all day tending to her baby.
But I urge young mothers to push themselves a little further, prudently enough, to realize that these few years are the foundation blocks of eating habits which will last your baby a lifetime!
Even if you decide to feed the baby homemade food, do you find yourself running out of ideas? Also, still worried about the nutrition your baby is getting? Worry not! I faced similar questions and based on my first year as a mother, I am putting down some recipes which are easy to make, liked by babies and importantly nutritious!

Firstly you have to understand, your child is no culinary competition judge, so you don’t need to overdo when it comes to spices and garnish! Secondly appearance, well texture precedes appearance for the baby at this stage. Lastly and most importantly, quantity! The baby food is meant for the baby, so instead of preparing in adult portion sizes and then eating that battered bland puree as a mother’s compulsory lunch side dish, make smaller and manageable portion sizes for the baby food!
1.      Rice+cumin+clarified butter
1 tablespoon rice
1 pinch of cumin/cumin powder
1 tablespoon clarified butter
½ cup boiled water/distilled water
1 pinch rock salt

Clean the rice by running cold water over it once and draining it. In a small pot, pour ½ cup boiled/distilled water and allow it to heat, after 1 minute, add rice and cumin powder, let the rice get cooked thoroughly. Check a grain to confirm. There will be additional water left in the pot even after the rice is cooked. Do not throw it away, mash the rice into that remaining water and make a watery rice solution. Add a pinch of rock salt and let the mixture reach room temperature. Add 1 tablespoon clarified butter (ghee) , mix and serve.
This mixture contains rice, which is relatively easy to digest for the baby, who still has gaps in his/her intestinal track, hence cannot digest top feed easily. Clarified butter is added in large quantities, to ensure smooth passage of the food, through the food pipe and intestines, which are still in a developmental phase.
Rock salt instead of regular table salt, as rock salt aids digestion, and doesn’t contain as much sodium and iodine as regular table salt. Sodium even in smaller quantities puts a lot of pressure on the small kidneys of the baby for filtration systems of the kidneys is yet to settle down. Cumin is added to tease and develop the taste buds of the baby.
 The baby can have up to 1/3 rd bowl of such rice gruel during the initial days and as the appetite grows, the water to rice proportion can be altered, and the child can have this preparation till it reaches the age of 1.5 years
2.      Apple+cinnamon sauce
1 apple
1 small stick of cinnamon
2 cups boiled/distilled water
Peel the apple and dice into small pieces, crush the stick of cinnamon and add these to a pot containing 2 cups water. Let the apple cook on even flame/medium heat till tender. Once the apple pieces are tender and disintegrating, remove from heat and let it cool. Once cooled, place on a steel mesh/strainer and using a spoon mash evenly and strain the flesh of the apple. Mix the strained applesauce with some boiled water, to make it runny consistency and serve.
This is regular applesauce, but home made. This can be made in advance and stored in clear glass bottles and refrigerated. Ensure it is used within 3-4 days. Ensure the sauce is at room temperature before you serve your baby.
Apple being a storehouse of good vitamins, having a baby friendly texture, even after cooking, is a universal favorite of mothers! Cinnamon not only gives a distinct sweet spicy flavor, but also keeps bacteria and stomach irritation at bay. It soothes sore throats as well! Note that there is no need to add sugar or honey or any other sweetening agent to baby food at this age or any age, as sugar may deposit on the gums and tiny teeth of the baby causing cavities as your baby is still not using a tooth brush regularly.
The baby can begin having 1/3 bowl of such sauce and can have it up to the age of 8 months. Later the baby can be encouraged to bite slivers of apple, during the teething time, instead of giving plastic teethers.
3.      Moong dal(split green gram)+rice+cumin
½ tablespoon moong dal
1 tablespoon rice
1 pinch cumin/cumin powder
2 cups boiled/distilled water
1 tablespoon clarified butter
Clean the moong dal and rice by running water over them. In a pot bring water to boil, add moong dal and rice and cumin to it. Let it cook thoroughly. There will be excess water retained even after cooking. Mash the dal and rice into that water and add a pinch of rock salt and 1 tablespoon clarified butter to it. Serve once at room temperature.
Moong dal is easy to digest and does not cause flatulence. If your baby is colicky, avoid any flatulence causing foods for the baby. Clarified butter eases the passage and digestion of the food.
This is a very nutritious gruel and can be served to the baby with varying proportions of water, rice and dal as the age and food requirement of the baby advances.
4.      Raisin water
1 tablespoon raisins
½ cup boiled/distilled water
Heat the water till warm and remove from heat. Add raisins to the water and soak overnight. Blend the raisins with the water and serve.
Raisins aid digestion and also have a natural sweet taste for the baby to savour. It helps in colic to an extent.
You can do this same blend by replacing raisins with dried figs also. The figs are iron rich.
5.      Popped rice + water
½ cup Popped rice (please note popped rice is not puffed rice)
1 cup boiled/distilled water
Warm water and add popped rice
The popped rice will disintegrate in the water, mix the gruel and let it cool before serving.
Popped rice very light, easy to digest for the baby and this gruel is effective in soothing the tummy.
6.      Sweet potato+clove sauce
1 sweet potato
1 clove
2 cups boiled/distilled water
Thoroughly clean and peel the sweet potato, dice it into small squares.
In a pot boil water and add the diced sweet potato and clove. Once cooked and cooled, mash and pass through a strainer. The gruel can be given directly to the baby or can be diluted with small quantities of milk.
Sweet potatoes are nature’s multivitamin! With B6, iron, magnesium, vitamin C and D, they are just the right food for your baby!
At the age of 4.5 months or whenever your pediatrician advices, you should start supplementing breast milk or formula with top feed. Initially the quantity consumed will be very less, but gradually it will grow. Try and feed the baby small quantities of closest to natural foods, by just steaming or boiling them. Do not add sugar or manipulate the taste of natural foods because unless the baby knows the real taste of each item served, it will tend to be biased towards one particular taste which dominates his palate.  This will lead to troublesome habits during toddlerhood and beyond. Fussy eaters are not as much inherent, what is being served to the baby initially will largely decide if your baby will be a fussy eater in the future.
Also for babies, remember to use smallest of the available spoons, avoid plastic spoons and use silver or silver coated spoons as far as possible. Silver has anti-bacterial properties and easy to clean as well. Hence there are far less chances of your baby developing an infection once he/she starts consuming top feed. Also use the smallest size of bowls, again preferably steel or glass.
Also instead of a fancy bib, just drape a long soft washcloth around the baby and the seat, with newspapers spread around the baby seat or even below it. It makes cleaning up after the baby easy!
Also always taste a bit of the prepared food, for temperature, taste and texture before feeding it to your baby and do not ever add salt or spices according to your mature adult taste. The baby food can continue to be bland even after the baby begins to eat regular food.
Enjoy your new challenge mommy chef!


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