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Monday, May 7, 2012

Baby & Toddler Foods

This is for the event Healthy Morsels - Baby & Toddler Foods.

I would like to share my experience with my Daughter now 12 yrs old. They are fresh in my mind as I have gone through them over and over as I cherished the memories in my mind and when asked for advice by other new mothers. There are some basic rules for feeding babies and toddlers for which advice I am grateful to the experienced ladies who adviced me. They saved me a lot of headache when coping with a energetic toddler alone without any relatives or neighbours nearby.

Rule No. 1 : Dont forcefeed your child. If she has stopped eating what you painstakingly prepared, dont take it personally and get frustrated and stuff your baby's mouth. It will only be sprayed back all over and you will have to clean everything. She will also get the idea that eating is something which causes mommy to be angry with her. Even just born babies can sense tension and stress in their mothers.

Rule No.2 : Get your child in the habit of eating from a specific place in the house. No roaming around with a bowl and spoon and making the whole house dirty. This rule has caused me a lot of head ache when I visited India on holidays as I was expected to feed my daughter by carrying my daughter around cooing and cuddling to "show " my love and care for her.Sorry. Not my cup of tea. Got a lot of flak from my mother and other female relatives but I persevered. My daughter started eating by herself without any fuss by the age of two or so. Keep your baby's food habits and sleeping patterns seperate from cuddling.

If you neglect this rule, as I said, the child will take it for granted that the whole house can by spattered with food, you will be forever wiping food from the sofas, steps, well you get the idea. And if you are not careful, you will be running behind your child even after she starts going to school.

Rule 3: Just because the adverts show a plump little child slurping from a baby food container it dosent mean that your child will like it. After about four or five varieties of cereal boxes, baby formula tins, I conceded to my baby's demand for home made food. She was never plump like Amul baby. I gave away all the store bought items and stuck to home made. I breast fed my daughter till 2 yrs old, started on solids at sound five months of age. The bottle was sparingly used for fresh juices and smoothies type of food.

Some recipes:

When cooking normal south Indian lunch, we have rice, dal & veggies. reserve  a little seperate from the rest before adding any spices to it. Scald the small jar and lid of the mixie with boiling water from the electric kettle. grind everything to a fine paste for younger babies and progressively coarser pastes for older babies. Take out in a container, Check for taste. If you dont find it tasty dont expect your baby to think any differently. It should be mild enough for your baby, but you should be able to eat atleast three teaspoons without gagging. That was my test for baby food.

Take a little seperately in a small bowl, feed the baby with an almost flat and small spoon. When starting for the first time and infact everytime make sure the baby is hungry but not so hungry as to be cranky and irritable. Keep food ready before she starts crying for it. Keep mealtimes as regular as possible so that the babies digestive system gets used to a timetable.

Another fav for my daughter was mashed boiled potatoes. I used to mix a little full fat milk powder for protien and a pinch of asafoetida and roasted jeera powder also to aid in digestion. She espescially like the potatoes cooked in non- veg gravy. I used to rinse away the masala with boiling water before mashing, but there was a light hint of the curry in the end product.

Third ofcourse is what every south indian knows - mashed idlies. Even as a baby, my daughter disliked sweet food, so instead of sugar and milk, I used dal water or milk with a little strained sambhar to make it the right consistency.

Fourth is Curd rice smashed to a coarse paste in the mixie. Add a little milk if the curd is too sour.

One more important item which I gave my daughter regularly , prepared every night by her daddy was egg milk mixture. This was after one year. Beat one or two eggs lightly , add boiling milk beating vigorously. the eggs will be cooked in the boiling milk to a custard like consistency. Strain through seive. Cool to warm enough or room temperature. Feed with a bottle with large hole
I dont remember adding sugar to this. In fact its preferable not to add sugar.

Some people have the habit espescially for toddlers to sleep with the bottles in the mouth. If she finishes feeding and is falling asleep, try and wake her up to sip from a bottle atleast a sip of water to cleanse the mouth, or else you may get fungal infection in the mouth, and cavities also. There is also the danger of the milk going to the nasal passages and suffocation. Or it may go to the ear canal and get ear infection.

Then there is mashed banana plain or mixed with cooked egg yolk.

Everybody knows about sprouted, dried, roasted and powdered ragi made into a gruel or pudding.

Ofcourse apples either cooked or scraped directly from the whole fruit.

In kerala, nenthrangai (semi ripe plantains) are steam cooked, grated, dried and powdered and made into a gruel or pudding for baby food. It is supposedly delicious, but I knew of it only when my dd was around 4 yrs old.

Then what else?

In bringing up babies as with everything else, Prevention is better than cure.

Be scruplously clean. You may think you are alone in a foriegn country with nobody to help you and you don't have the time, but it is all the more important for women like us to be more careful. believe me its easier to use boiling water from a kettle to sterilise everything baby uses than to clean up after a sleepless night with a feverish baby with diarrhea or vomiting. Wipe floors with disinfectant. Use dettol in the washing machine while washing clothes. If possible dry clothes in hot sun. Periodically sun the pillows etc used by your baby in the sun. I used polyester pillows so I washed in the washing machine regularly (monthly I think). I even washed the soft toys and rubber toys in the washing machine and dried them in the hot sun. use a washable mattress pad on the mattresses without fail.

Dont associate sleeping with rocking a baby to sleep or singing her to sleep or feeding her to sleep. When the baby is tired, you will know. Put her on the bed in a darkened and quiet room. and expect her to sleep. If she wakes up in between and fusses and you are sure shes not hungry or wet, dont lift her, it's very very tempting because babies look like angels when sleeping, control yourself and pat her or murmur her back to sleep. Lifting her up will disturb whatever sleep she has.

For gods sake please please dont keep any container like bucket or basin with water in the house. Babies have drowned by falling face first in five inches of water. Switch off the phone while bathing baby so you will not be tempted to leave the baby for a few mins while you answer the call. it can be deadly. Even the bathroom buckets should be emptied. If you are facing water problem, keep your stored water where the baby cannot crawl into or pull a chair up and climb to peep into it.

Seal all plug points at lower levels so the tiny fingers cannot poke into it. No plastic covers or pieces of string or ropes or cords lying around. No small items for the curious baby to swallow. Dont underestimate your baby.  My daughter actually stuffed her nose with a date seed in front of my eyes, it all happened within seconds and I was freaked out. My hubby was not to be reached, there was no mobile in those days, Luckily instead of breathing it she swallowed it. She was around two and a half.
I spent aroud half an hour terrified that my daughter with choke to death in my arms and I was going to kill myself. When we went to emergency room for an x ray the stupid seed was in her stomach. Whew!

I hope I have not bored anybody with my advice, maybe I sound bossy, but it is because I am the eldest of three sisters. (Smile)

Babies are wonderful. Love them as much as possible in all their stages of life. Whenever you hit a difficult patch remember this will pass. All that will be left will be sweet memories and the love you showed her. They grow up so fast. Sigh!


  1. Amazing that you still remember every small details of your daughter. Hats off Fathima !!! I agree to each and every rule you have mentioned. You are absolutely right that their food and sleep patterns should not be altered. and Alhamdulillah nothing happened to her on swallowing that seed !
    Could you please elaborate a little more on this ragi gruel, maybe if possible post a recipe ? Would love to try it on my kids :)
    Thank you for sharing your experiences and for the practical advices and tips. Iam sure many new moms would benefit from this post :)

    1. Well, becoming a Mother was a dream come true for me. I wanted to have atleast six children (Really) but Allah decided otherwise, so when waiting to get pregnant again, I used to think over and over my experiences so that I dont forget anything the next time over. (Smile)

      Ragi Powder:
      Wash and clean ragi to remove stones etc. Soak for one day in water to cover. Then drain water, spread on wet towel, cover with another towel. keep it damp.Within one or two days the ragi will sprout. Next the sprouted ragi is dried in the sun then toasted over low flame in a heavy bottomed pan till dried crisp and a beautiful aroma is there. Originally at this stage, the husk was winnowed out, but nowadays with the doctors emphasizing the importance of fibre for even babies,winnowing awy the husk part has been eliminated. the toasted ragi is allowed to cool and powdered finely.This is called Ragi malt which a major constituent of many health drinks available in India. This is the basic Ragi gruel powder. You can add pottu kadalai powder to this to add protien or other powdered nuts as the baby grows.

      For feeding, boil water or milk, mix a tbsp of the ragi powder in some water and add to the simmering water, stirring to avoid lumps to make a gruel. Strain through seive if necessary and feed when sufficiently cooled.You can add sugar as per taste.

      This is good for people of all ages, not only babies. This is used a morning drink instead of coffe boost etc in many households even now as it is very nutritious and energy giving.

    2. Jazak Allahu Khair Fathima for taking time to explain about this Ragi powder recipe !!!! Would love to try it on my kids inshallah :)
      Thank you once again !

  2. Salaams Fathima, it was an awesome writeup. Had a good read. You have given many practical tips and advices while bringing up a child. I could very well relate to the many mistakes some young mothers do out of love for their child, which in turn would be difficult to handle later. And, these recipes are all wonderful. I know this plantain powder food too. The Ragi powder is again good and nutritious..

    Thanks for sharing all your wisdom with us through Healthy Morsels - Baby and Toddler Foods :)

  3. Wow! What a write up!Thanks for sharing.

  4. Great post, very helpful.!

  5. Lovely writeup Fathima! I appreciate your patience for making this nice post. do visit my space when you find time

  6. Many thanks for the exciting blog posting! I really enjoyed reading it, you are a brilliant writer. I actually added your blog to my favorites and will look forward for more updates. Great Job, Keep it up.. :)teddy bears for babies

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  8. I am amazed on how you can manage this great stuff while taking care of your little ones. My daughter who is 1 yr old has difficulty in eating solid foods that is why I gave her formula from toddler milk powder.

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