As a working mother, its hard to find the right balance between spending time with your baby and excelling at work! More often than not, it is the latter that suffers, not because you lack ambition, but simply because maternal instincts are so strong they kind of presume priority over everything else:) And though life is full of compromises, it is upto you on how much and in what way you compromise. One thing I try to stick to is feeding home-cooked food to my baby. It is not an elaborate affair - just as you love preparing meals for your family, and find time to do so, you have to plan a ahead and prepare some baby food that you can feed to your growing child. Yes, it is a bit of work before they can start eating regular meals with you, but believe me, time flies! My little baby girl is almost a year old, and will pretty soon transfer from being a Baby to a Toddler!!
Last week we discussed about Stage 1 foods. Now, as your baby crosses the 6-month mark, and has already mastered the art of eating rice cereal and other starter foods, you can graduate to the next level, which will open up a variety of options, (and problems too) as you help your baby ride the Culinary train of Adventure!
Stage 2 Foods (6 to 9 Months)
Unlike Stage 1, now you don't have any particular constraints on what to feed. There are still a few things to avoid, mainly Dairy (excluding Yogurt & Hard Cheese), Egg Whites, high-sodium foods, Citrus fruits (until 8-9 months), any Soft Cheese like Brie, or Goat cheese, etc, Avoid Cow's milk and egg whites until 1 year of age. Remember, Breast Milk and/or Formula are the most important sources of nutrition for your infant up to 12 months old. Do NOT replace a nursing or bottle-feeding session with a solid food meal, unless you are planning to wean early.
Moving from Mushy Purees to Thicker Food
Your baby might still prefer mushy pureed food, up until 7-8 months, but you can start experimenting with thicker textures and finger foods like Cheerios, well-cooked pasta, cheese cubes, boiled peas and carrots, fresh fruit cubes like melon, soft pear, banana etc. The idea is to make them like texture along with taste. My daughter started eating finger foods quite early, especially because we made her sit with us through our meals and she showed an eagerness to try adult-kind-of-food quite early:) but you can assess your baby's interest and serve food accordingly.
Adding Spices to Food
After 8 months, you can start adding spices like parsley, oregano, garlic, turmeric, onions, etc to their food, just to bring some flavor and taste. Be stingy on use of these additives, and monitor your baby's expressions and actions at all times so you know his likes and dislikes.
My Favorite Stage 2 Recipes
1. Sweet Raagi Porridge
Take 2 tsp raagi flour and equal parts water. mix well to remove all lumps. Then take some boiling water in another cup. Add a pinch of brown sugar and ghee to the raagi. Turn on the stove, and heat the raagi mixture on low flame. Slowly keep adding boiling water till it forms a thick and glossy paste. I generally microwave the raagi mixture after adding water, in about 5 second intervals till the porridge becomes smooth and the flour gets cooked.
2. Vegetable Khichdi
Mix a couple of your baby's favorite and not-so-favorite vegetables like cauliflower, potatoes, peas, carrots with 1/2 cup rice and 3/4 cup moong dal. Pressure cook all the ingredients or boil them thoroughly. Add just a pinch of salt (optional) and a pinch of asafoetida(hiing). Then blend all of it in a mixer to form a semi-solid paste. Serve it hot, with a drizzle of Ghee for a healthy nutritious and filling meal.
3. Roasted Carrot and Tomato Soup with Rice Cereal
Take a baking pan and arrange pieces of carrots and tomatoes in a single layer. Drizzle with a little olive oil, then bake in a preheated oven at 350F for about 5-8 minutes, till the veggies look roasted. Transfer the veggies to a pan on the stove, mixed with 1/2 cup water, a pinch of salt, some oregano or basil flakes, and some freshly chopped cilantro. Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove from heat and puree it in a blender to form a soup like consistency. No need to add more water at this step. When you want to serve, add some water, heat the soup and mix in a couple tablespoons of rice cereal or whole grain cereal to make a semi-solid meal.
4. Mixed Fruit Smoothie
One of the easiest and both mother-daughter favorite recipe is making a mixed fruit yogurt smoothie. Take any seasonal fruit like mango, peach, plums, blueberries, raspberries, or even combine a couple of them. Blanch with their skins removed for about 7-8 minutes (not needed for mangoes, bananas or berries, only hard skinned fruits). Once the fruit becomes mushy, blend with 1/2 cup yogurt to make a thick smoothie. Transfer to ice cube trays and freeze.
5. Macaroni & Cheese
Another hot favorite, that doesn't need a recipe per se, is mac & cheese. Just cook some small macaroni pasta per package instructions, cooking a bit longer than required, not al dente. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese on the top, or shredded cheddar cheese, and serve.
When it comes to recipes, there is never enough - just use the golden rules of combining tried-and-tested ingredients to create delicious meals for your baby. Pretty soon, she'll be reaching out for food that's on your plate - till then, hope you enjoy some of these homemade baby food recipes.
Homemade Baby Food Recipes - Stage 1 (4 to 6 months)
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