Whole Grains For Babies And Children – Why And How To Introduce

7 min read

Written by Pradeep

Pradeep

Whole Grains For Baby And Children

The baby’s health has always been the prime concern of the parents. They are always worried as to what to give and when to give if fruits should be given more etc. Fiber is very important along with other nutrients. Whole grains are a powerhouse of fiber, carbohydrates, and protein for a healthy and balanced diet. These are available in varied, shapes, colors, sizes, and tastes as well. How beneficial is whole grain for babies?

There are several ways to prepare them for consumption and they can be prepared in many ways depending on the region you love. Grains are enriched with Vitamins as well as minerals. Consumption of whole grains offers energy for the baby or the baby. It is always ideal to replace processed items with whole grains in your baby’s diet.

In This Article

What Are Whole Grains?

Whole grain as the name indicates is the grain that has the bran, endosperm as well as germ. Generally, processed cereals only have endosperm whereas the whole grain is a nutritious choice for babies and elder kids.

The whole grain has many layers, the outermost being the bran that comprises nutrients like iron, thiamine zinc, etc and this layer is enriched with fiber. The second layer is that of the germ which has vitamins as well as proteins and the third one is of endosperm which is enriched with carbohydrates as well as protein.

Nutritional Value Of Whole Grains For Babies

Whole grain products are high in nutrients that support many of the body’s processes, which means they aid in the maintenance of good health. Whole grains provide minerals such as fiber, B vitamins (niacin, thiamine, and folate), zinc, magnesium, and manganese. Grains are great pre and probiotics that aid in the growth of beneficial bacteria in the stomach.

Why Should Whole Grains Be Given To Babies?

Why Should Whole Grains Be Given To Babies_

Whole grains are a powerhouse of antioxidants, vitamins, fiber as well as phytochemicals that are vital for the growth and development of the baby. The presence of these nutrients lowers the possibility of emerging chronic disorders like heart ailments, diabetes, different types of cancer, etc.

The consumption of whole grains and their fiber content makes your baby feel full thus avoiding snacking. The presence of so many nutrients is also beneficial for the health of the baby, gives proper growth, weight, strong and healthy bones, etc.

When To Introduce Whole Grains To Your Baby?

Whole grains are important for the growth and development of the baby. But it is also crucial to know when the whole grains should be introduced. The chart given below will offer better insight into the time when whole grains should be started.

How To Introduce Whole Grains Into Your Baby’s Diet?

It is always a healthy option to introduce whole grain to your baby’s diet as it is a sumptuous, nutritious, and ideal choice for the development of the baby. Listed below are a few ways to introduce whole grains to the diet of the baby or the baby. Consumption of whole grains is also a wise way to make healthier and better choices.

1. Use a Good Mix of Grains

It is always a good idea to mix different kinds of whole grains into regular food and dishes. This not only offers a heavy texture and taste but also introduces new variations to the regular diet. Adopting a mix is a brilliant idea as nutrition from all can be attained through one dish only.

2. Healthy Baking

healthy baking

Baked food is loved by most infants. Most often we use refined flour for that “perfect” baking. But replace refined flour with whole grain flour and you will do a world of goodness to your little munchkin. Cookies, muffins and other baked goods can be given a healthy twist when prepared using whole grain flours.

3. Opt For Convenient Food Which Is Not Processed

Always make good and healthy choices with Quinoa, cereal bars, crackers, whole wheat bread, etc. Due to the busy lifestyle and running about, you may  find it easy and convenient to pick processed foods for kids, but this does not have any nutritional value and will pack on empty calories too.

4. Give Your Day a Healthy Start

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so it should be full and sumptuous. It is thus said “Have a King-size Breakfast” so that you keep going with the rest of the day”. Breakfast is thus the right time to start eating healthy food like oats, millets, whole grain slices of bread, etc. which are significant for the baby to carry the daily activities.

5. Use Your Creativity to Add A Side Dish

Infants need to be introduced to food in creative ways so that they feel like eating it. They are fussy eaters and parents need to keep trying to see what works best for the baby’s food. Offering whole grain bread with stew, soups, etc. can be an ideal option for a sumptuous meal with healthy choices.

Precautions To Take While Introducing Grains To Babies

Continue to breastfeed when weaning. Breastmilk coats the intestines and helps keep allergies at bay.

  • Every grain has the potential to induce allergic reactions.
  • Start with small amounts of well-cooked grain. This will make it easy for the baby to digest.
  • Introduce any new grain in very small amounts over many days.
  • Start with only one grain at a time. Once your baby is comfortable, you can start a new one.
  • Following the three-day rule is very important. Introduce dals or pulses into your baby’s diet immediately after grains, and then provide dal-rice, khichdi, idli, dosa, and other similar dishes with the grains added.
  • If you suspect that your baby is having reactions, stop immediately and consult the doctor.

Are There Any Side Effects Of Whole Grains To Babies?

Grains are an excellent source of energy due to their high carbohydrate content. They are, however, deficient in some amino acids that the body requires to produce proteins. To compensate for the missing amino acids, grains should be consumed in conjunction with legumes (dals). Giving newborns just grain, particularly refined grains like white rice or maida, may result in a variety of deficits.

Babies can develop allergies to certain foods. These allergies can be genetic or spontaneous. Whole grains are of many types. If your baby is allergic, you ma observe them developing symptoms such as

  • Rashes
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blocked nose
  • Difficulty breathing

If you observe any of these signs immediately or in a couple of hours after feeding a new grain, stop giving it immediately and consult the pediatrican.

It is always vital to exercise moderation when introducing new grains. This will help the baby’s digestive system adjust to the new food in the right manner. Excessive feeding can lead to issues with digestion and other unwanted side effects such as diarrhea and vomitings

Easy And Healthy Whole Grain Recipes

Easy And Healthy Whole Grain Recipes

It is very easy to find junk food with the many available options present in the market these days. It is an unnerving experience to make healthy and mindful choices and encourage kids to eat healthy and nutritious food.

Parents are always struggling to develop healthy options for food. Habits should be developed from an early age so that they continue and become a part of the baby’s lifestyle as they grow.

Given below are some healthy recipes with whole grains for babies

1. Oats Porridge- An ideal and healthy option for toddlers

Method

  • In a pan or a vessel, mix ½ cup oats with a glass of water or 1 cup of milk.
  • Let the stove become hot on medium or low flame
  • Add sugar as per taste
  • Keep stirring in between.
  • With time, its consistency becomes thick
  • This can now be served hot after removing from the stove.

2. Plain Khichdi

This is a yummy meal for the baby

Method

  • Wash 2 tbsp rice and dal in a good amount of water with 1 pinch of turmeric and salt as per taste.
  • Put all of these in the cooker
  • Let the cooker be on medium or low flame and cook till about 4-5 whistles.
  • Let it cool a bit and add 1 tsp of ghee.

3. Moong Dal Khichdi with Vegetables

This combination works in a great way to offer the required energy for the baby.

Method

  • Wash ½ cup rice, and ½ cup dal properly.
  • Add 1 tsp ghee and add 1 tsp cumin seeds once the ghee is hot, let it splutter.
  • Now add a ½ cup of carrots, beans, and cauliflower to the ghee and sauté it.
  • Finally, add the soaked rice and dal with 1 pinch of turmeric and salt as per the taste.
  • Cook till 4-5 whistles.
  • Remove from the cooker and let it cool, add more ghee if required.

4. Idli- Soft and Light Pancakes Which Could Be Plain or Stuffed

healthy idly

Method

  • Grease a bit of oil or ghee in the idli moulds
  • Take a huge pot with half water and let it become warm
  • Whisk the Dosa batter and add salt to it.
  • One idli mould should be filled with 1 ladle of batter.
  • Let it steam for 10-15 minutes.
  • Check by inserting a knife if the idlis are done, in case they come out clean, it is done, if sticky, they still need to be cooked.
  • Now remove the mould from the pot and let it cool.
  • Scrap the idlis and serve with coconut chutney.

Thus, it can be said that healthy and nutritious food is the option for a complete and inclusive option for the growth and development of the baby. More preference should be given to the intake of whole grains in the diet slowly and steadily and that too from a young age. An important aspect to be remembered is that a doctor’s consultation is significant before starting any new food or making any changes to the diet of the baby.

FAQ’s

1. Are Whole Grains Recommended for Babies?

Yes, they are. They are in fact very nutritious for babies. They can prevent chronic illnesses.

2. When Can I Introduce Whole Grains To my Baby?

You can introduce it when you start other solids. They can start at 6 months of age. Start slow and include other foods in their diet as well.

3. Can Babies Digest Whole Grains?

Yes, they can. Some babies may take time. If your baby is unable to digest at 6 months, stop and try again after a few months.

4. Can I Give My Baby Whole Grains Every Day?

Yes, you can. In limited quantity. Ensure they are well cooked.

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