While breastfeeding is sufficient for the baby's growth during the first six months, introducing supplementary foods afterward becomes necessary for natural growth. Babies cannot directly progress from breastmilk to adult foods. The baby should be fed modified family food until they are about one year old and can eat adult foods. This period of dietary transition is called the weaning period.
Offering simple homemade nutritious baby food with different textures and flavours during this period helps develop their chewing and biting skills and gets them used to eating with the rest of the family.
Tips To Cook Nutritious Baby Food at Home
Let's go over some tips for cooking nutritious baby food:
While your baby's diet changes dramatically after six months, it can be difficult for mothers to introduce cooked food with good aroma, flavour, texture, and appearance that babies would then find appealing.
Follow these tips while you cook homemade, nutritious baby food from ingredients that are easily available :
- You can make easy-to-suck purees of vegetables like carrots and fruits like bananas.
Maintain a thick enough consistency to stay on the spoon while still being able to feed easily. Use breast milk or formula milk to soften the food.
- Cook a mixture of cereals and pulses and mash it.
- You may enrich the food by making a porridge of fermented, germinated, sprouted flour and toasting the grains before grinding them.
- Since your baby's stomach is small, prepare energy-dense foods with jaggery, ghee, butter, or oil so that even a small portion is packed with energy.
- After nine months, introduce finger foods such as cheese cubes or toast.
- Introduce soft, lumpy, granular foods that cover the majority of the tastes at around 10 months. To encourage acceptance of new foods, combine a new food item with a familiar one while introducing coarser foods.
- Meat that has been minced and thoroughly cooked has a high nutritional value.
When your baby's jaw and chewing movements are strong enough, you can introduce family foods between the ages of 12 and 24 months. You may give hem roti softened by soaking it in dal or vegetable. To change up your family's meals, add pulses or vegetables to rice.
What types of nutritious foods can I cook for my baby?
It is ideal to prepare complementary homemade nutritious baby food rich in protein, energy and micronutrients. You can plan the following for a baby aged 6 to 12 months with these nutritious baby food recipes:
- Your baby's first food could be a porridge made from suji, broken wheat, wheat flour, or ragi.
- You can mash chikkoo, banana, mango or papaya.
- From the age of nine months, you can start giving them yoghurt or cheese.
- Use locally available cereals like rice or wheat, millets like bajra and ragi, and pulses like moong, arhar, or channa. Separately roast and grind them. To make a mixture, combine til (sesame) or groundnut powder to it. For future use, make sure to store it in an airtight container. These homemade nutritious baby food mixes can be made into porridges by adding hot water, breast milk, or formula milk to it. Jaggery and ghee can also be added while the baby is being fed.
- Before feeding, you can soak half a chapati in breastmilk or boiled water and add jaggery and fat to it.
- Once well suited to porridge, try introducing traditional dishes like upma, idli, khichadi, daliya, or dhokla. You can mash the idli or add mashed vegetables to the rice.
Gluten-free cereals are recommended for babies under the age of six months, according to recommended guidelines. Gluten is a protein found naturally in cereals such as wheat, oats, semolina, modified starches, and rye. It may cause intestinal inflammation in some babies, resulting in diarrhoea, bloating, or constipation.
How do I store home-cooked food?
It is best to serve your baby food that has been freshly prepared and heated to a temperature that your baby can handle. Here are some homemade baby food storage tips. Cooked food should never be stored. If it is not possible to accommodate freshly cooked food each time, you may store the food below 10°C or above 60°C for the next meal. Before feeding, make sure it has been reheated properly. Use clean hands and containers while you cook and store the food.
Remember to cook small meals that are energy and micronutrient-rich. Identify staple, clean homemade food for your babies. You can also prepare and store dry mixes like sattu or a cereal-pulse mixture (in a ratio of 2:1) that can be reconstituted with water or milk when you want to use them. To keep them fresh, store the mixes in an airtight container and in the fridge. Do not give your child any ready-made, processed or junk food, as it may contain high amounts of sugar, salt, and preservatives.
Ask your paediatrician or nutritionist for the best feeding tips. Happy Parenting!
World Health Organization. Feeding and nutrition for infants and young children. Complementary foods .
Ministry of HRD. Government of India. National Guidelines on infant and young child feeding .
Harvard. T.H.Chan School of Public Health. Gluten: A benefit or harm to the body.