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When your baby reaches the age when he can be given solids, the entire spectrum of foods seems to open up, making you wonder what item you should start off with first. Many times, it is recommended to start with cereals, and check how well your baby accepts it. Rice cereal is usually a popular choice among many, but you can introduce even wheat to your baby. There are numerous benefits to be reaped from it that assist your baby’s growth.
When Should You Introduce Wheat to a Baby’s Diet?
Before you immediately start making wheat halwa and give it to your child, it is important to note whether your baby is ready or not to have it.
Many people believe that a baby is ready to eat solid foods after he has completed about six months of age. A general consensus among doctors and other parents usually stays at completing at least a year, before solids begin to find their way to a baby’s mouth. Keep a track of how your baby responds and let your doctor know before you introduce any other item to your baby’s diet.
Health Benefits of Wheat for Infants
Wheat is recommended for babies purely because it brings with itself a trove of benefits that are essential in the early growth phase of a child.
1. Supports oral development
Wheat-based food items will need to be chewed properly before swallowing. Babies below one year of age are unable to chew, as their teething is still in progress. Chewing teeth develop slightly later than biting teeth. The act of chewing helps exercise the jaw and gums, bringing development and strengthening of the oral organs. This helps boost the circulation of blood in the gums, promoting dental health and reducing the chances of dental cavities occurring early in life.
2. Great nutrition source
There are numerous nutritive constituents in wheat, including vitamin B dietary fibre, manganese, phosphorous, niacin, and many other minerals. All of these play an important role in carrying out physical development and mental growth of the baby in the early years.
3. Streamlines digestive process
Constipation and many other digestion-related ailments plague young kids quite frequently, since their digestive system is not developed. The food needs to be digested properly in order to absorb the various nutrients contained in it. Wheat is quite easy to digest, and its constituents are beneficial for intestinal health as well. This keeps the gut healthy.
4. A powerhouse of carbohydrates
In most cuisines, wheat forms a substantial and core part of the meal, purely because of one reason, i.e. carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are an important source of energy. A baby needs energy for his various bodily processes and growth. Serving wheat helps him get the energy he needs, and stimulates proper physical development.
How to Introduce Wheat to Your Baby
Making wheat biscuits for babies might be a great way to start your little one on wheat. However, there are certain points to be kept in mind to introduce wheat to your child in the right way.
- Let your child eat different solid food items before you introduce wheat to him.
- Opt for fruit-based purees, and then transition to a wheat porridge to give him balanced nutrition.
- Introduce new food items after a gap of a week or so. This helps you gauge any allergic reactions that might arise.
- Do not reduce breastfeeds just to make way for solid food items; let it continue as before. You can alternate between breastfeeds and solids.
- Stop serving the food if you notice any kind of allergic reaction after giving your child a new food item.
- Start small, and mix it with other food items if your child doesn’t like the taste initially.
Things to Consider Before Feeding Wheat to a Baby
Before starting with any kind of recipe for your child, make sure that you adhere to certain precautions and considerations for the benefit of your kid.
- At times, consumption of wheat can trigger certain allergies or reactions such as breathing problems or even asthma. In such cases, avoid giving your child wheat-based items in high quantities, or stop them altogether. Your doctor might have certain alternatives in mind that can help him cope with it.
- There is a difference between giving your child the usual wheat, and giving him wheat flour. Wheat flour can be accidentally inhaled by the baby, which finds its way right into the blood. This triggers the immune system of the baby to react to a foreign body, and result in developing a wheat-based allergy.
- Whole wheat for babies could be a little difficult to digest initially. It is best to start off with simple recipes based on processed wheat, so that your child gets used to it in a safe and gradual manner.
Wheat Porridge Recipe for Your Child
Starting with a wheat-based porridge is an easy and safe way to check if he likes it and responds positively to it. Later on, the porridge can be mixed with other elements to elevate the flavour, or mixed with cow milk as well.
What You Will Need
- Wheat flour
- Moong dal
- Jaggery, powdered (only for babies older than 1 year)
- Cow milk (only for babies older than 1 year)
How to Prepare
- Start with preparing the wheat mix powder. Heat a pan and roast almonds on it for a few minutes on low flame, until their colour changes.
- Roast the moong dal next until it changes colour. Once it cools, add it to a blender with the almonds, and blend to a smooth powder. Sieve it to get a fine version.
- Now, roast the flour in the pan until you can smell the aroma. Remove the heat and add the powder to it, mixing them together. This is your wheat mix.
- Place jaggery and water in a vessel and boil it until it melts. Filter this water and mix with the wheat flour mix. Add some more water and mix everything properly without any lumps being formed.
- Cook this on a medium flame, stirring it continuously, and follow it up with milk. Boil it so that the porridge thickens.
- Take it off the flame and let it cool down so that it may thicken further, then serve.
Make sure that your baby is not allergic to almonds or nuts before making and serving this recipe.
Besides porridge, you can also start off with wheat dalia or plain wheat rotis. As your baby grows older, you can serve wheat dosas, either plain or in combination with vegetables or dal.
Introducing wheat to your child can open up the gates of solid food items to newer elements, too. Taking care of your little one’s age and preparing a wheat-based meal the right way is extremely important to avoid any problems later on. Let your child enjoy the taste of various wheat food items, and grow up to be a healthy toddler!
Also Read: Brown Rice for Babies