Millet (Bajra) for Babies - Types, Health Benefits and Recipes

Millet (Bajra) for Babies – Health Benefits and Recipes

If you’re a parent to a baby or toddler, you’ve most likely heard from their doctor or nutritionist that a baby’s diet is instrumental in their development. And we couldn’t agree more! What you feed your baby will impact their physical health and form dietary habits in them. This is why giving healthy foods to babies is important from early on. Millets, is one of the healthiest ingredients for babies and adults to include in their diet and it is also one of the most versatile ingredients to cook with. Read on to know when and how you can include millet in your baby’s diet!

What is Millet?

Millets are a gluten-free, rich in fibre grain that is a nutritious, highly digestible grain that is both nutritious and easy to prepare. This grain is considered one of the least allergenic foods available today. It very closely resembles barley in terms of size and shape but is high in fibre, which makes it easy to digest. Millets are also considered superfoods because it is additionally rich in Vitamin B, Protein, Potassium, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus.

What Kinds of Millet Are Available in India?

One of the reasons you can use millets with versatility is due to the number of dishes that can be made with this superfood, you can make anything from millet idlis to millet cereal for babies, this is because there are a number of varieties of millets. Here are the ones easiest to find in India:

1. Foxtail Millet

Known as Kakum orKangniin Hindi, foxtail millet is commonly found in India. This type of millet is great for controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

2. Pearl Millet

This is the most commonly found millet in India and is known as Bajra. This type of millet is renowned for its ability to help manage and prevent type 2 diabetes. It is also extremely rich in magnesium.

Pearl Millet

3. Finger Millet

Known as Ragi, this millet is extremely popular in Southern India, specifically the farming state of Karnataka. It is common to use finger millet for babies due to its digestibility and nutritional value.

4. Kodo Millet

Rich in a type of antioxidant known as polyphenol and fibre while also being low on fat, this millet is commonly used to manage diabetes. It is known as Kodra or Varagu.

5. Little Millet

Known for its ability to help fight stomach diseases and diabetes, this type of millet is also rich in iron, fibre and antioxidants. It is known as Kutki or Saamai.

6. Barnyard Millet

Commonly called Jhangora or Kuthiravali, this type of millet is extremely rich in fibre, phosphorus and calcium.

7. Sorghum Millet

Commonly called Jowar, this millet is considered one of the easiest available and popular millets in India, it is rich in unsaturated fats, protein, calcium and minerals like phosphorus and potassium. It is also high in micronutrients and antioxidants.

Here is a nutritional chart for all the millets mentioned above:

Crop / Nutrient Protein(g) Fat (g) Fiber(g) Minerals(g) Iron(mg) Calcium(mg) Calories (kcal)
Pearl Millet 10.6 4.8 1.3 2.3 16.9 38 378
Finger Millet 7.3 1.5 3.6 2.7 3.9 344 336
Foxtail Millet 12.3 4 8 3.3 2.8 31 473
Kodo Millet 8.3 3.6 9 2.6 0.5 27 309
Little Millet 7.7 5.2 7.6 1.5 9.3 17 207
Barnyard Millet 11.2 3.9 10.1 4.4 15.2 11 342
Sorghum 10.4 3.1 2 1.6 5.4 25 329
Proso Millet 12.5 2.9 2.2 1.9 0.8 14 356
Rice 6.8 2.7 0.2 0.6 0.7 10 362
Wheat 11.8 2 1.2 1.5 5.3 41 348

Is Millet Safe for Infants?

Millets are extremely safe for infants when prepared correctly. Millets are rich in antioxidants, protein, vitamins and minerals. Millets are also easy to digest and are commonly considered gluten-free, this makes it extremely rare that your child will be allergic to them.

Is Millet Safe for Infants?

When Can Your Baby Eat Millet?

Your baby can start eating millets at around 6 months of age. But when introducing it, remember that any new ingredient, millets included, should be eased into a child’s diet. Start them off with a spoonful and gradually increase the quantity.

Which Millet is Good for Babies?

Most millets are great for babies, it is however recommended that you feed your child pearl millet, foxtail millet or sorghum millet as they are the easiest to prepare and digest. Remember to talk to your nutritionist and doctors for more precise information on what millets can be fed to your child specifically.

Health Benefits of Millet for Babies

Millets have immense nutritional value and thus have numerous health benefits. Here are a few of these.

1. Helps Digestion

One of the most important nutrients that help with digestion is fibre as most millets are rich in fibre. Millets also are known to have antioxidants and properties that help combat and prevent stomach bugs.

2. Strong Bones

One mineral most millets are rich in is calcium, this plays a huge part in developing strong healthy bones in the baby.

Strong Bones

3. Helps in Muscle Recovery

As your baby grows, their muscles are used in different ways, this can cause muscle fatigue. Protein is important for muscle recovery and millets are a magnificent source of protein and the healthiest source of protein for babies.

4. Helps With Metabolic Rates

A key mineral involved with breaking down and metabolizing fats is phosphorus, this is essentially also important in repairing damaged tissues. Most types of millets are rich in phosphorus.

5. Prevents Anaemia

Millets are rich in iron, this helps prevent your babies from becoming anaemic.

6. Helps in Weight Management

Millets are a rich source of healthy carbohydrates called complex carbohydrates, this keeps your baby full for longer because it takes longer for the body to break these carbs down. This also helps with weight management.

How to Select and Store Millet as Baby Food

It is recommended that you stick to organic ingredients that are prepared fresh. Ensure that any food is stored in hygienic conditions; do not feed your child stale food. It is recommended that millets specifically are not exposed to direct sunlight and are stored in a clean, dark and cool environment. Do not store millets in the refrigerator if it is not yet cooked.

Millet Recipes for Your Baby

Millets are extremely easy to prepare. This is why cooking millet for your baby is extremely easy, here are a few recipes:

1. Millet Porridge

Millet porridge is an easy to make and healthy dish for your baby.

Millet Porridge

What You Will Need

  • Finger Millets – 3 tablespoons
  • Water – 1 cup

How to Prepare

  • In a saucepan, boil a cup of water.
  • Add millets.
  • Stir continuously till it is smooth.
  • Cover and let it boil for 10 mi.
  • Let it cool to room temperature and serve.

2. Millet Cereal

Another easy to prepare dish, here’s how you make it.

Millet Cereal

What You Will Need

  • Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon
  • Sorghum Millet – 1 cup
  • Water – 2 cups

How to Prepare

  • Heat a pan with the olive oil on a low flame.
  • Toast the millets till they brown.
  • Boil water separately, add to the millets and stir till it is fluffy.
  • Add vanilla, cinnamon or veggies.
  • Serve at room temperature.

3. Millet Stew

Stews are extremely healthy for your child, here’s a really cool recipe for millet stew.

Millet Stew

What You Will Need

  • Diced Veggies – 1 handful
  • Foxtail Millets – 1 cup
  • Pear Juice – ¾ cup
  • Water – 1 cup

How to Prepare

  • To make this stew, simply add water to a saucepan, add all the ingredients, bring to a boil on low heat. Serve at room temperature.

4. Millet Salad

Salads are a great lunch on a hot day for your child, here’s a simple but tasty salad recipe.

Millet Salad

What You Will Need

  • Sorghum Millet – 3 tablespoons
  • Green Veggies – 1 cup
  • Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon

How to Prepare

  • To make this dish, add olive oil to a pan and heat on a low flame, then lightly toast all the veggies and millets for 10 minutes and serve at room temperature.

It is extremely important to incorporate other healthy ingredients to your child’s meal plan, millets are superfoods but they cannot be the entire diet for your child. To better understand the nutritional requirements of your child and how to incorporate millets to their diet, please consult your dietician or nutritionist.

Also Read:

Apple Puree for Baby
6 Months Old Baby Food Ideas
Fiber Rich Foods for Babies
Quinoa for Babies

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