Every mother wants the best for her baby. Right from the moment a baby is born, the mother is bombarded with a whole lot of advice on what to feed and what not to. Initially, a baby is only breastfed, but once he is 5 months old, semi-solid to solid foods can be given.
But how would you know what to give and what not to until your baby turns 2 years old? Here is a list of the 10 best foods for your child.
Once your baby is 5 months old, nutritious solid foods can be introduced along with mother’s milk. Simple meats, veggies and beans are loaded with vitamins and proteins. However, like adults, babies and toddlers need variety too. Therefore, it is critical to provide them with a range of tasty and healthy food options so that they do not get bored.
1. Pulses or dals: Research shows that formula food available in the market cannot replace fresh home-cooked dals. A simple dal boiled with turmeric and salt, and tempered with a little jeera goes a long way in building a strong immune system. You baby can have it either like a soup or mixed with mashed rice. Dals contain an abundance of proteins, which are vital for the growth of the baby.
2. Steamed idlis: Idlis made of rice are soft to chew and easy to digest. You can give your child idlis with some desi ghee. While rice would give him fibre, protein and carbohydrates, ghee would aid in digestion.
3. Yellow vegetables: Yellow-coloured veggies such as squash or bell peppers are rich in antioxidants and also improve eyesight. Mash them along with moong dal to make khichdi. For an older child, you can add bell peppers to your homemade pizza.
4. Eggs: Boiled, scrambled or fried, make sure you add this super-food to your child’s daily diet so that she gets the required amount of DHA. Egg yolk is rich in DHA, which is vital for the growth and development of a child.
5. Fresh fruits: A bowl of mashed seasonal fruits makes a delicious snack. You can also add non-native fruits such as avocado or strawberries, which are readily available in most cities nowadays. If your child is older, serve him fruits without peeling, as the skin contains a large amount of nutrients.
6. Dates: Dates are rich in iron. So, the next time your toddler craves for some candy, give her some dates.
7. Grains: Baby oats and finger millet (ragi) are very nutritious. They can be offered as a warm porridge with some dry fruits.
8. All other vegetables
9. Poultry and fish: Cooked shredded chicken and steamed fish can be given to children after they turn 1. Chicken is a good source of protein and fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
10. Dairy: Regular intake of yoghurt, which is rich in calcium and vitamin D, is very good for a child’s digestive system. Plain homemade yoghurt without sugar is a more healthier option.
Along with the above-mentioned foods, your child must also drink adequate amount of water to stay hydrated. You can also give him fresh juices, but dilute them with water for easier digestion.
Although children love to eat food that tastes good, they are also fond of foods presented in various colours and shapes. Food cutters and cookie cutters available in the market can help you do this without hardly any practice. You can cut interesting shapes out of bread and vegetables to make the food look more interesting and enticing.
Remember, always try to add a healthy twist to your child’s meals and explain to her what she is eating and why. This will help in instilling healthy eating habits from a very young age.
The author is a professional German translator, interpreter, foreign language instructor for schools and visiting faculty for colleges and corporates.