by Aruna Kamath
When I was contemplating on introducing solids to my baby, I was in a bit of a dilemma. Should I resort to processed food or give baby home-made food? When I consulted with my other mommy friends, I discovered most of them had chosen the convenient option of ready-made formula food. So, after getting a green signal from my baby’s paediatrician I too followed suit.
But within a few weeks, I realized that my baby wasn’t too excited about it. In fact, after a couple of weeks, she had started to reject it. Every time I tried to feed her, she turned her head away. Well, I don’t blame her. How could you expect her to eat something so insipid and plasticky when there was a world of flavours out there?
I didn’t want any more of this force feeding. It was stressing me out – and my baby wasn’t happy either. So, without thinking twice I binned all the formula packets that I had stocked up and braced myself for making my own baby food. After all, it was a healthier option to processed foods – and a whole lot cheaper too!
Is your baby ready for solids?
Though six months is the recommended age to introduce solids, it’s ok to start at 4 months if your baby has reached certain developmental milestones. Studies show that babies who started eating solid foods at 4 months old had a reduced risk of allergies and asthma. However, to be on the safe side, it is important that you consult with your child specialist before starting off baby on solids.
You don’t have to be an expert cook!
Though I was excited about making baby food, I was slightly intimidated by the prospect of it. I had imagined it to be a tedious and laborious process. But I realized that you don’t actually have to be an expert in the kitchen. It’s fairly simple and easy too. Of course, no denying the fact, it takes up some commitment and energy. But at the end of it all, it’s worth the effort! You’re 100% sure of the quality of food. its fresh, natural (with no preservatives et al) and healthy! Can you think of a better way to give your munchkin a nutritious start!
Here are some simple recipes – fast, inexpensive and best of all more nutritious than the ready-made food bought off the shelves.
When your baby is between 4-6 months, stick to soft foods in puree form. It makes it easy for the baby to swallow and digest.
1. Banana Puree
Recipe for Banana Puree
· Peel one small banana and mash it in a food processor
· To dilute the consistency, could add a little milk.
2. Brown Rice Porridge
This is one of the most common first foods as it is light, easily digestible and safe for babies. To make feeding easier, you could make it as a thin consistency.
Recipe for Brown Rice Porridge
· Dry grind a tbsp of brown rice
· Mix the rice with half cup of water in a cooking vessel.
· Cover it until it boils and reduce the heat
· Cook it for another 20 with cover
· If you want thinner consistency, add more water
· Add a pinch of salt and ghee for taste
3. Carrot Puree
Carrots are wonder foods loaded with vitamin A and antioxidant betacarotene.
How to make Carrot Puree
· De-skin and dice a small carrot
· Cook it well in about ½ cup of water with cover
· Allow it to cool and puree it the blender
4. Peas Puree
- Wash and cook a handful of shelled peas
- Cool the peas and blend it to a smooth consistency in a blender
5. Apple Puree
Apples are naturally sweet and there is a good chance that your baby will love it! They make for ideal first fruits as they are easy to digest.
How to make Apple Puree
· Halve a medium sized apple.
· Cut the core and deseed it before cooking it in a saucepan
· Steam in pressure cooker – for 6-7 minutes
· Cool and blend into a smooth puree
6. Avocado Puree
Avocado is a perfect first food for baby. Its buttery texture makes it a great weaning food. Avocado contains omega-3 which is good for the baby’s brain development
Recipe for Avocado Puree
· Take a ripe avocado, cut into half and remove the seed.
· Scoop out the flesh and transfer it into a bowl.
· Mash thoroughly with a fork or spoon or puree it in a blender.
· Add sugar and mix well.
· To dilute the consistency, add some water
Your baby is slightly older now and will have a better appetite. So you can gradually increase the portions. At this stage, you can introduce more varieties, combine foods and also spice up the foods a little.
7. Dal/Chickpeas Clear Soup
This is very nutritious and light on the baby. To make it thicker you can add your choice of veggies.
How to make Dal/Chickpeas Clear Soup
· Wash and cook 2 tbsps of chickpeas with some jeera, a pinch of turmeric powder and one garlic clove
· Cool and strain the cooked chick peas
· The strained liquid is the clear soup
· Add salt and a drop of ghee for taste
For a thicker version:
· You could add a small piece of carrot and potato while cooking the dal.
· Puree the cooked dal in the blender add some drinking water to dilute the consistency
· Strain if required, to remove the fibre from veggies
· Add some drinking water to dilute the consistency
· Add salt and ghee for taste
8. Papaya Puree
Papaya is slightly more acidic than other fruits. That’s why it’s a good idea to wait till the baby turns 7-8 months. Papaya is great for digestion and can help relieve constipation problems.
· Wash and cut a small papaya in half
· Peel the skin and remove the seeds.
· Cut roughly and puree the flesh in blender
9. Mixed Veg Puree Soup
This a good evening pre-dinner feed for your baby. Since this soup combines a variety of veggies, it is very nutritious and healthy. Just make sure to take only small portions of the veggies, because when you combine them, it becomes quite substantial.
Recipe for Mixed Veg Puree Soup
· Peel skin, wash and cut: Beetroot, potato, carrot and beans into tiny bits
· Cook in pressure cooker or boil for 15 minutes until tender
· Cool and puree in the blender
· Add salt for taste
10. Barley and Apple Porridge
This makes for a good, filling, in-between meal. Its totally non-fussy and easy to prepare. Adding apple makes the porridge naturally sweet. You can feed this twice a week to your baby.
How to make Mixed Barley and Apple Porridge
· Wash about 2tbsps of barely well.
· Add 1 1/2 c ups of water to the barley and pressure cook for 5/6 whistles
· Meanwhile chop quarter apple into rough cubes and cook it separately
· Cool the cooked barely (check if it has been cooked) and puree it in the blender
· Mash the cooked apple with a fork and add it to the pureed barely
11. Potato Mash
Potatoes are a good source of starch and help in healthy weight gain. This is very simple to make and if your child takes to it, you can give it twice a week.
Recipe for Potato Mash
· Wash and cook a medium sized potato till tender.
· You could add a quarter tsp of jeera along with the potato (jeera avoids gas formation)
· Cool the potato and remove skin
· Mash it well.
· To get smooth consistency, puree it in a blender along with 3 tbsp of formula milk (powder mixed with drinking water)
Your baby is a little bigger now and its digestive system is better developed to take in a little more heavy food. At this stage, you can introduce foods like yogurt and rice
12. Moong Gram Dal Khichidi
This is a very nutritious combination and makes for a great first food. It’s safe for your baby and light on the stomach. Moong dal is very good source of protein. Rice, as you know, is a great source of carbohydrate – so an energy booster
How to Moong Gram Dal Khichidi
· Take moong gram and rice in eual quantities (1 ½ tbsp each)
· Wash both thoroughly and cook in pressure cooker along with one garlic clove and jeera.
· You can add a pinch of asafetida. This aids digestion.
· Cool and mash well. Add water if you want a runny consistency.
· Add salt for taste
13. Spinach Dal
Spinach is a great source of iron and it’s a healthy way introduce veggies to your baby. You can mash this and give it in a soup form or combine it with mashed rice.
How to make Spinach Dal
· Wash thoroughly – 2tbsp of Split moong and a fistful of finely chopped spinach. (always wash green twice or more to remove the fine sand particles)
· Cook it along with one garlic clove and a quarter tsp of jeera
· Cool and mash well.
· Add salt for taste
· You could add this to mashed rice or puree the cooled mixture in a blender and feed it as a soup.