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No matter what we eat daily, as mommies, we always want to feed the best to our kids. We may eat all kinds of junk but to our kids we only want to give natural, organic and healthy food.
While that mommy guilt stays, it gets difficult to plan baby food daily. It requires some extra effort to prepare fresh & healthy dishes for them since they are hungry and need to be fed six to seven times a day. I'm talking about babies of 6-18 months of age.
I never fed my kids any kind of readymade packaged food. Yes, I carry some once in a while in my bag for emergencies while travelling. But most of the times, they get lost in my bag untouched.
Breastfeeding is very important and most beneficial to babies until 6 months. Yes, I mean exclusive breastfeeding without even giving them water. There's absolutely no alternative to the nutrition a mother's milk contains. Here, I don't mean to offend those who do not breastfeed their babies. It's completely a personal call. Now, the problem arises when the baby is 6 months old and need to be introduced with solids, since milk is now not enough for their growing body. I had started giving my kids semi solids in the fifth month itself.
Sharing my ideas & experience about What & how to feed :
Start with fruits & Vegetables but only one at a time
I had started making purees of carrot, potato, apple, sweet potato, strawberry etc. Remember to give them one fruit for 3 days and check for allergies. Then start with another item. Once you understand what suits your baby, you can mix 2 or more items to make one puree.
Introduce rice & pulses
While people suggested me to give plain boiled water of rice and dals, I personally did not follow this since I find them tasteless. Instead, I made normal rice & dal with less salt and spices, and fed them the mashed purees. With this they got used to normal eating.
Introduce all that you can slowly month after month
Yes, even if you don't eat certain things, feed them. This will make them eat all kinds of food in future. Let them experience all kinds of tastes.
Do not over feed
Babies have very small and sensitive stomach. Let them enjoy and play with food. Do not force or over feed.
Avoid heavy protein & sugars
Avoid cow's milk, nuts (until 10 months), salt & sugar (until 2 years). Yes, it's very important to avoid salt for their muscles to grow and sugar, as we all know is harmful even for adults. Instead, give them jaggery or honey.
Give them all that you eat
I feed my kids all that I make daily. I limit salt in my food so that I can feed them the same. One spoon itself is enough to make the food familiar for future.
Give them all variety
Wheat, rice, ragi, barley, oats, daliya, pulses, beans, fruits, vegetables, everything.
Nothing's wrong with readymade food
There's no need to be guilty about using packaged readymade food if you're sure that the ingredients are safe for babies. I personally don't prefer them and keep them for emergencies only. Other times I make fresh baby food at home.
You can make & store baby food
When I make a fruit/vegetable puree, I store them in small airtight glass jars that I can pick multiple times a day. This saves time and effort.
Google & Youtube have millions of baby food ideas with recipes. Keeping in mind your baby's likes & allergies, keep experimenting with new dishes. It is fun you know.
There are a lot of brands that make biscuits and other snacks for kids from organic and healthy ingredients without any salt/sugar/preservatives. Also, we can make such snacks at home as well. You can also consult an expert to get the nutritional diet for your child.
You can continue breastfeeding as long as you are comfortable. But introduce them to buffalo/goat's milk slowly. Avoid cow's milk for some years.
Kids need to eat more & rich food since their minds and bodies are super-active. Feed them the right quantity and a balanced diet. Always remember, don't feed them to make them fat. Feed them to make them healthy and active mentally & physically. A plump child need not be healthy and a lean child need not be weak.
Moreover, I have noticed that kids who have had only powdered food and milk look healthy but are actually not and those who eat all kinds of food are healthy and super active.
Making fresh and healthy food for babies is time and effort consuming but please think, is it not all the worth? Readymade foods may lessen your work but are of no use if given on a daily basis.