Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Fast Food for Baby

Swapna requested a post on homemade Indian foods for baby, so here's a quick post listing some of the foods that Lila has enjoyed since she started eating solids. A few are specific to Indian cuisine and others are not. This post comes with a giant disclaimer. I have no expertise in children's nutrition and write this only as a parent with limited experience (sample size = 1). So consider your child's needs, your doctor's recommendations and your own instincts when using this information.

Lila started eating solids little by little at 6.5 months of age, and now at 13 months, she eats almost everything we do, including 3 sit down meals a day. We've fed her using a combination of purees (spoon-feeding) and offering her chunks of soft food to eat with her own hands, which is often termed baby-led weaning.

Banana pieces: Fast Food for baby
1. Two instant foods that need no work other than cubing or mashing are banana and avocado. I was always leery of buying avocados because more than half the time, I'd end up with one that was brown and yucky inside and cringe at the waste. Then  I started following this tip when shopping for avocados and I've enjoyed perfect avocados since.

2. Whole-milk yogurt, whether homemade or store-bought is another instant food. It can be mixed with cereal. It can be eaten by itself. Best of all, it can be stirred into any ripe fruit puree (peach, banana, berries) to make a delicious fruit yogurt.

3. Sweet potato can be cooked in the microwave in 3 minutes or so. It can also be steamed or pressure-cooked while you're cooking something else.

4. Home-made applesauce: Peel and chop apples, cook with a small amount of water until tender. Break down using an immersion blender for a smooth puree or a masher (the kind we use to make pav bhaji) for a chunky puree. Season with a little cinnamon or apple pie spice if you want. I also make pear sauce and a pear-apple sauce the exact same way.

5. Breakfast Oatmeal: I cook apples like above, then add old-fashioned oats in the last 5 minutes of cooking. Mash to make a delicious breakfast. I make 3 or 4 portions at once and refrigerate. If a little fiber is needed in the diet, add a chopped dried prune- you'll get quick results every time if you know what I mean.

6. Khichdi: I cook rice and moong dal together with lots of vegetables. Lila has always enjoyed tasty food and I season the khichdi with some combination of the following: curry leaves, turmeric, ginger, garlic, cumin. Using different combinations of vegetables and spices, you can make a hundred different khichdis using the same basic method. I serve this with a generous dollop of homemade ghee.

7. Vegetable soup: Another family favorite and can be made a hundred different ways using different vegetables and flavorings. My standard combo is {carrots, onion, potato, tomato}.

8. Upma and idlis are two other Indian dishes that can be shared by the baby and the rest of the family.

9. By now, Lila is eating everything that we are. In fact, most of the time she wants to eat it directly off of my plate. I am not making separate meals for her. Instead, I make our regular food but make sure I go easy on the salt and chilli powder. We grown-ups can always add more salt to our portions and eat some pickle or hot chutney on the side to amp up the flavor if necessary (in my case, always). Here's an example of what I made last night: chickpea curry with sweet potato. I scooped out chickpeas and sweet potato pieces onto Lila's plate and she fed herself.


Recently, I came across these guidelines by a nutritionist: Ellyn Satter's Division of Responsibility in Feeding Children. They nicely articulated what I think is my general philosophy for feeding my child. Children change all the time so I'm taking it one day at a time and offering Lila what I believe are tasty, wholesome foods and hoping she enjoys them.

I was a very poor eater as a child and I remember a fair amount of scolding, blame and tension at the dinner table until I finally grew out of it as a teenager and now it is quite obvious that I am the exact opposite of a poor eater. So if you have a picky eater at home, take a deep breath and know that it is entirely possible that he/she will grow up to enjoy every vegetable that grows on this green earth and maybe write a food blog as well.

If you have meal ideas that your babies have enjoyed, please add them in the comments!

29 comments:

  1. I was wondering whether you could do a post on make-ahead snacks. We get back home at 6 but don't have dinner right away....that leads to major bad decisions ;) Anything that can be made in a batch, or quickly conjured up is appreciated. Thank you - Ruma.

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    1. Ruma- I'll definitely try and write a post on make-ahead snacks. I could use more ideas for these too!

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  2. Its great that you are not making separate meals for her. I did that too with my son and he enjoys eating everything now. Its so much easier for us too when they are non-fussy with food, as they grow.

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    1. So glad your son enjoys eating everything! But there's a huge luck factor there; plenty of parents do everything right but kids who won't eat just won't eat.

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  3. I dont have baby,but am loving this excellent fast and healthy,ideal foods.

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    1. :) yes, these are foods everyone can enjoy.

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  4. Nupur...just wanted to send you a quick note..please dont ever stop blogging..:) every single post of yours is heartfelt,warm down to earth at the same time, oh so inspiring!

    you are truly making your mark and thanks for all the good work so far!

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    1. Oh Sarah, that's a very kind thing to say! Thank you for reading along.

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  5. All fantastic ideas. I usually added a bit of sambhar powder to the dal I gave them just to get them used to the spice. It worked now they eat however spicy.

    Well said Nupur. I have seen moms especially Indian moms stress out if the kids don't eat. I had my fair amount of tension with DD and with DD2 I just chilled, she ate when she was hungry and not if she was not hungry, and we all survived without tensions, stress and tears during meal times.

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    1. Lila loves adult-level-spicy sambar! Basically she attacks my plate :)
      Yeah, after hearing other parents' experiences, I've definitely decided not to stress out with Lila. All that coaxing is so boring for all parties involved (and the ones that have to watch too).

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  6. i am enjoying this, i had great trouble feeding shrivaas, ( now at 16 he is just opposite), One thing he always enjoyed was ragi kanji.

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    1. Oh yes, ragi is an excellent food. I should make that more often for my baby.

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  7. Lucky Lila--I'd eat all these in a shot!
    And re: your last post, curious to know what you think about Maisie Dobbs! I'll refrain from saying more till you (hopefully) review it. I just finished the latest Flavia de Luce mystery. Post-war English manor setting featuring an eleven-year-old chemistry expert girl detective. Fulfills my murder + girls-can-do-science needs.

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    1. Niranjana- I read the first Flavia mystery and someone got irritated by her over-smart attitude :D
      I'm loving Maisie Dobbs (half way through).

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    2. The first Flavia is the worst of the lot--I found it quite ham-handed. The later books develop her character rather than the setting, and are a big improvement. They aren't my favorite mysteries, but they've grown on me!

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  8. Great ideas Nupur. I always follow the basic principle to feed my son since he was a baby i taste the food and if i like it and don't find it too spicy but still tasty i give it to him.

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    1. Yup - no point in giving babies horrid tasteless mush.

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  9. Nupur, your Awesome.So kind of you to write on baby food. You make the readers extremely happy by fulfilling their requests.

    My little one loves to eat and at the same time only likes to eat tasty food.
    He does not like any of the gerber foods, bland I guess:)
    Currently he eats 3 foods...apples, carrots and rice(rice + moong dal+ carrots).
    I give him the same thing everyday and he is bored of it.
    The problem is I do not know to cook, or shd i say I dont like to cook, everything I do turns into
    a disaster or does not get the right kind of flavour I expect.
    Since we crave for good food, we end up eating in restuarants.

    Now that I have the little guy, I need to provide food for him at the table....so need to cook, as the saying goes
    necessity is the mother of invention:)

    I am going to try out all the foods that you mentioned above. Thanks a ton.
    Love,
    Swapna

    PS: And only from ur previous post I found the reason why I have no friends in this country.

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    1. Happy to help, Swapna. Lila gobbled Gerber food too, when I gave it to her, but the from-scratch stuff is so much cheaper and almost as easy as opening a jar.

      If you truly don't like to cook, then that's one thing. But if you want to like to cook, there's a lot that can be done! Don't be put off by a few cooking disasters. Anyone can learn to cook well if they want to. If you need any help, please don't hesitate to ask!

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  10. Keeping the food nutritious and of course tasty is all we moms have to do when we offer it to our babies . Baby dosas made of rice+udad dal,or just green moong dal or ragi flour are a good option . Any kind of fruit blended into a milk shake or smoothie is what my daughter loved . Pastas and spaghetti(whole grain)cooked very soft and adding boiled mashed veggies like cauliflower/sweet potato/boiled green peas while making pasta sauce are a great option. Simple poli dipped in varan /amti.My daughter has enjoyed eating all this.
    Impressed that you write down all the little things you do Nupur

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    1. Love the idea of making baby dosas- adorable! Thanks for sharing your ideas. The pasta with veggie sauce is lovely too.

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  11. A friend of mine cubes tofu and broccoli and lightly steams/roasts them with some salt and her son loves them.

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    1. I'd gobble that up myself! Thanks for the idea.

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  12. Great that Lila feeds herself.mehuli alas has only two teeth so we are going slow on the chunkier foods. She does love avocado, daal, cheese and scrambled/ boiled egg. She's not so great at picking up stuff,most of it gets on the floor and she does gag on yoghurt puffs. Dinner time is quite dramatic.I am glad that she is at least a good sleeper.

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    1. Lila is not a good sleeper (to put it mildly). Between you and me, we have the perfect child ;)

      Kids are very messy as they learn to eat!

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  13. This is a subject close to my heart. My son is 17 months and seems to have decided that he doesn't like most carbs and proteins! He totally avoids rice, pasta and dals, so I have to come up new ways of getting him to eat them. It's been dosas, pancakes and parathas for the past month. It's stressful as one by one he drops something that he used to eat in the past ( chicken, eggs and fish ). I don't cook or eat meat so can't get creative in that area. Am hoping it is only a phase as my patience is wearing thin! Am thankful for fruit and (some)veg.
    My regret is that I didn't persist with BLW as much as I should have.
    Hugs to Lila. Toddlers are so much fun, aren't they?

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  14. I needed that last line - I have a super picky eater on my hands and am always stressing about her having enough healthy foods! My parents recently reminded me that I was a super picky eater as a child as well and turned out pretty good in my 20s so I should just chill for now :)

    Enjoy the time spent with Lila - this is such a wonderful age and they do grow up too fast. I have already started getting teary eyed at the thought of my 3 year old going off to college.

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  15. My daughtr is 13 months old and is very much agsinst eating anything. She ate properly when she was 7-8 months old. But now, exactly opposite, I give her corrot-apple and carrot-beetroot with 1 of each date, almond and cashew juice.

    I would also like to know about some ideas to make my daughter eat properly and about diet schedule for her, like when and what kind of foods or snacks or milkshakes or juice should be given.
    Thanks for this useful post.
    Eskitha .S

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