A baby’s diet is very important. It is essential for their growth and development. Focusing on their nutrition from the start helps the parent set the trend and style of eating for their child even when they grow up. So, what you introduce to your baby at a young age matters! As adults, we have all heard about the goodness and benefits of including or even substituting millets for rice. However, when it comes to babies, apart from one or two millets, others are not even in the picture. Come, let’s explore more into the goodness of millet for babies and the varieties you can give them.
Millets are extremely good for your baby. They are gluten-free and rich in nutritional value, thus making it a great addition to your baby’s diet. These can be a great source of many nutrients, especially if your baby is sensitive to gluten.
You can introduce millets to your baby as they start their solid food journey around 6 – 8 months of age. However, always check with your pediatrician before you start this group of foods. Your doctor will also be able to guide you about the various millet health risks you need to look out for.
When you start offering millets, do it one variety at a time. Start with just a spoonful and then slowly increase the quantity. Once your baby is comfortable with one variety, you can introduce the next variety. When you are sure your baby is able to digest all types of millets, you can explore a variety of recipes and see what your baby likes.
Millets are a rich source of Protein, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Iron, and Vitamin B. When it comes to millet health benefits for babies, there are plenty. Here are a few:
Since they are gluten-free, many find this easier to digest when compared to other grains. This can help in case of constipation too.
The various minerals in different millets help in maintaining bodily functions in a smooth manner.
Since these are rich in iron, they help reduce anemia. Iron content in the blood is important to carry oxygen to various parts of your baby’s body.
As they are rich in calcium and phosphorous, they help in developing stronger bones.
Since millets have phosphorous, therefore it helps in metabolism and weight management.
If you are confused about which millet to choose, here are the millet health benefits for babies broken down by their variety:
This is a gluten-free option for those who find it hard to digest gluten. Also known as barnyard millet or bhagar, it’s a high source of protein, dietary fiber, and other nutrients.
This is the most easily digestible millet variety and is also known as foxtail millet or Navane. The benefits of navane rice include the tendency to slowly release glucose on a continuous basis thus making it a great option for pregnant and lactating women as well.
It is high in fiber and helps to prevent or reduce constipation in babies. Also known as the little millet, this is rich in protein and is suitable for all age groups.
Whether you are cooking millet for baby or wondering “can we eat millets during pregnancy?”, these are some of the best millets to eat. However, it is safer for pregnant women to check with their doctor before starting any millets as these foods can aggravate thyroid-related problems.
Millets are easy to cook and one should always ensure the millet is well-cooked before offering it to a baby. Some of the ways you can cook with millets are:
Ragi (finger millet) is one of the most recommended early foods for a baby due to its high calcium content. This is a good source of calcium for babies who have lactose intolerance.
Samo khichdi, made from bhagar (barnyard millet) is a very popular option as it prevents constipation & relieves gas. This is a great breakfast for a baby too.
Samai (little millet) needs just about 30 minutes to be cooked into a delicious samai upma. Not only your baby but the entire family can enjoy samai benefits with this dish. This can be a good breakfast to start your day nutritiously or a wholesome dinner.
As a parent, you need to consider both millet benefits and risks before you adopt this into your baby’s diet. Some babies may experience indigestion if millets are consumed regularly. If you notice your baby is struggling to digest any type of millet, discontinue it for a few weeks and start again slowly. Also, if your baby has wheat-related allergies, ensure the millets are ground in a wheat-free environment.
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