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While baby’s health and nutritional needs are all important, working mothers find time a challenge. Easy homemade baby food ideas that work!
By Aloka Gambhir
In the first few years of a baby’s life, not only can you lay the foundation for learning and development but also for lifelong good health. By teaching babies from the very beginning to love different textures and flavours, by introducing them to a wide variety of foods and by giving them foods packed with health and nutrition, you are ensuring that your child will not develop into a picky eater.
However, today we Indian women are no longer permanent fixtures in the kitchen, cooking up elaborate meals, but instead an essential part of the workplace, which brings about a dilemma. How can working mothers ensure that their little ones eat well all day long even though they are not around to plan and cook every meal?
Babies and toddlers have tiny tummies. Therefore in order to pack a nutritional punch, giving them foods that are high in calories, fat and nutrients is of utmost importance to their health and nutrition. If you’re worried that homemade baby food takes more prep time (especially if you are a working mom), fear not, here are some ideas that are quick and you can prepare them in advance before leaving home:
My 10 month old has been eating 2 egg yolks every day since he turned 7 months (and one every day between 6 to 7 months). In India we normally do not eat meat often and egg yolks are an excellent source of iron and fat. Sometimes, doctors advise against giving egg whites to babies below the age of one but if your toddler is above one year feel free to include egg whites too.
If you are packing eggs for a snack you can boil and chop them into little pieces, flavour them with salt and pepper, fresh herbs, chopped bell peppers, chopped cherry tomatoes, light mustard or any other flavour your child loves. Boiled eggs are easy and quick to prepare and great for a snack any time.
Working mothers can also beat the morning rush by whipping up a quick and nutritious breakfast with eggs. Again, if your baby is less than one you can scramble the yolks or make an omelette adding veggies, tomatoes, cheese or mushrooms.
Chicken broth or veggie soup is one of the best ways to get nutrients into kids, especially if they are a little fussy. You can make a pot and keep it in little containers and give it to the child over the course of a couple of days. Sometimes it can be the main part of a meal. Add a little cheese and you’re good to go. Soup or broth can be made in the evening after work and given to the child the next day for lunch while mom is away. Most of the kids don’t protest much as they drink it from sippy cups and don’t realize that it’s food.
This is a good finger food or anytime snack for a 1 to 3 year old. Since it has the right content of fat and sugar it is awesome for the child’s energy needs. Heat desiccated coconut in a pan with ghee until brown. Remove and let it cool. Add mashed dates and make into balls.
For a younger child between 8 months to a year, this is a filling meal which meets their health and nutrition needs. Steam and blend chicken in a blender. Steam a couple of veggies together. Carrots, beans and sweet potatoes are a good combination. Coarsely mash the veggies. In a pan, toss the chicken and veggies in ghee or butter with whatever additions you wish to add to enhance the taste. You can steam and blend batches of chicken, and veggies separately and freeze them. Before a meal simply defrost and heat in a pan with ghee.
Babies as young as 8 months can start eating soft cooked pieces of food. It’s a good idea to give pieces of cheese or paneer (lightly pan fried in ghee) as finger foods. If you are non-vegetarian, pieces of soft cooked fish and veggies is a perfect idea for dinner, which takes almost no prep time. Cheese and paneer are a delicious way to get protein and dairy fat into a little tummy.
Chopped fruits of different varieties are always fun for young children because of the different colours and sweet taste. Working mothers can pack a variety of fruits as a healthy snack for their kids. You can also chop colourful veggies, steam them until soft, then sauté in a pan with butter and herbs.
When starting solids for your baby, it’s not necessary to give only mush. My baby ate soft pieces of food ever since he was 6 months and toothless by sucking and chewing with his gums. Now he is happy experimenting with all types of food.
Let me know in the comments about your (and your baby’s) favourite go-to homemade baby food!
*Photo credit: Crystal Marie Lopez (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)
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