Note: I have posted this on my personal blog My Two Cents as well.
On my post on Month 4 update, I got many comments to share the food I gave S. I need to remember all that and document it for my reference too. Hence this post.
I don't remember too much from that time - after all, it has been over 8 years. But I do remember some of it. One thing I remember is that I wanted to start S on better eating habits from the beginning. I don't know if I have mentioned this before or not, but I have mostly based my parenting on how two particular kids were raised. One was my cousin's daughter, who lived with her grandparents (nana-nani) for the most part of first three years of her life (she is still living with them for that matter) - I shall call her N for the rest of this post. And the second kid is my nephew - J's elder brother's son. Lets call him S2. N had very good eating habits (she ate everything except peas) while S2 still is very picky and fussy about food. Now I don't know when N was started on solids, but I do know that even as an 18 month old toddler she knew she was supposed to eat whatever was placed in front of her on the dinner table. So, that told me it IS possible to discipline and cultivate good eating habits in an 18 month old and I applied that knowledge to my parenting when S arrived.
Anyway, coming back to the topic of discussion - eating habits. Or rather – developing good ones in kids. I believe it is very important to introduce babies to varied tastes and textures in order to develop good eating habits. At an early stage they don’t know enough to be picky. Or maybe, at an early age they are more open to new things. More eager to try out new things. Till now it was only my personal opinion, but from the comments I received for my earlier post I am beginning to believe that it is correct.
When I started S on solids, I kept a few things in mind –
1. The food had to be easy on a delicate stomach. If I had any doubts, I started it at a later age.
2. No sugar, no salt and of course, no other spices. Reason for not adding salt is very specific – at an early age, the babies’ kidneys are not fully equipped to handle it. No ghee or any other fats for similar reasons (digestive system is not fully developed to handle them).
3. I stuck with one food for two to three days to make sure S wasn’t having any adverse reaction to it.
4. No refined flour until the age of 8-9 months. That means nothing made out of maida.
5. I started fruits later – after 5 months.
6. No fruit juice until 1 year of age and only 2-3 ounces even after that.
7. ABSOLUTELY NO CANDY/CHOCOLATE.
8. I started giving her water (boiled and cooled) pretty early – from 3 months of age or so. I used to give her a few sips of water after every feed of formula. Despite pressure from my ILs to give her sweetened water, I didn’t budge and gave her only plain water. As a result she is a good “water drinker”. She prefers water to soda and juice. She does like juice but doesn’t like soda at all.
Now, on to the food that I cooked for her.
Lentil Soup: Took a handful of lentils (red – Masoor Dhuli or yellow – Moong Dhuli) and boiled them in lots of water (about 8 times by volume) until it was thoroughly cooked. Then I would just pour out the water into a bowl and feed it to S. This was when I had just started her on the soups. Later, as her digestive system became stronger, I reduced the amount of water and slowly started giving her the lentils along with the water they were cooked in. I didn’t add any salt or other spices until she was 8 months old or so. You can delay adding these a little more if you want.
Rice water: Same recipe as that for lentil soup. Though later, I never gave S plain rice. I made a very thin “khichdi” with one part rice and 3 parts lentils added to 6 (or maybe more) parts of water. Again, no salt or fat or other spices for at least 8 months.
Upma: Actually – not really! I just dry-roasted some semolina and then cooked it with water to a thin consistency. Not exactly the recipe for a mouth-watering upma :P This time with M, I roast the sooji and take it off the stove. While it is still hot, I add warm formula to it so it cooks and softens. I add enough formula to make it into a running consistency.
Boiled vegetables: started with one vegetable at a time. Then as her digestive system grew stronger, moved up to two or more veggies boiled and mashed together. Some “popular” items were – Lauki (bottle gourd/ white squash), carrots, peas, “turai” (I don’t know what is the English name for this), potatoes and later various combinations of these (and I also added tomatoes then). This time I intend to try out zucchini, spinach (added to other veggies, not alone. And later – maybe after 6 months or so), green beans (boiled, mashed and strained to filter out the fibrous material). One item S particularly liked later on was potatoes and tomatoes boiled and mashed together (the thin skin of tomatoes removed) with a little bit of ghee and salt.
Fuits: Early on, at about 5 or 6 months of age, I gave S only 2 fruits. Mashed bananas, and apples that were peeled, cored, sliced and boiled with a little milk (to soften them up) and mashed. Later I also started giving her Chikoo and Mangoes, mainly in thin milk-shake form and sometimes as purees. This was when she had turned about 7 months old. This time I will also try peaches and nectarines. And maybe some other fruits as M grows older. I would hopefully have introduced most of the fruits before she turns one year old. And I will definitely introduce juices after I have introduced at least some fruits.
Two more items S enjoyed as breakfast were: 1) Semolina toasts soaked in milk and pureed, and 2) plain corn flakes (no sugar variety) soaked in warm milk and pureed. I used to rotate between these two items and a mashed banana or mango for breakfast. As a result she ate different breakfast every day without having to repeat it for at least 4 days. Same thing happened with the rest of her food – with so many choices available, she hardly ate the same food the next day. As she grew older, choices increased and it became easier to give her varied foods.
This time I have a few other options available as well – eggs, cheerios, oatmeal etc. (when M grows older)
Judging from a couple of emails that I have exchanged with a few bloggers, I think I should get this post out on my blog as soon as possible. So I am going to post it as is, and will put up a follow-up post if I think of something else. I do have some ideas already which I think I will add in the next post. Hope this helps someone. I’d like to add one “disclaimer” – whatever I did or think of doing now is NOT absolute. It is based on MY kids’ tastes and preferences (I have already found out that M’s preferences differ from those of S). You can, and should make changes to the recipes according to your baby’s taste and preferences. No one knows them better than you do.