One of the many questions parents ask about feeding their babies is when they can start giving them other foods in addition to milk (maternal or artificial).
According to the WHO it is recommended exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months of age. This recommendation applies to both breastfed and breastfeeding infants.
But is it always like this?
When to introduce cereals into complementary food?
Complementary feeding of babies should begin at 6 months of age. Are you sure at six months? But … if there are pediatricians who recommend the introduction of cereals at four months if there are products on the market with indications of consumption after four months.
Unfortunately, these products are on the market only because it is legal to sell them. It is not ethical or healthy but unfortunately, it is legal.
Although WHO recommendations are currently in the pipeline, there are still many pediatricians (and other health professionals) who continue to recommend the early introduction of food before 6 months.
Infants and young children
|In the first two years of a child’s life, optimal nutrition drives healthy growth and improves cognitive development. In addition, it reduces the risk of being overweight and obese and of developing noncommunicable diseases later.|
|Tips for healthy eating during breastfeeding and childhood are the same as for adults, although the tips below are important:|
|· Infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life.|
|· Breastfeeding must be continued for at least two years.|
|· From the age of six months, complementary, varied, safe and nutritious foods should be introduced into the child’s diet without abandoning breastfeeding. No salt or sugar should be added to complementary foods.|
|Table 1. WHO Recommendation|
As we can see in the previous table, other recommendations of WHO are not adding sugar or salt to the complementary foods that are given to babies.
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If we look at some of the industrial cereal containers for babies that are for sale, many or most of them have added sugars in their ingredients. We can find some that while not using sugar will use techniques like dextrinized or hydrolyzed cereal to add sweet taste but without the visual impact of the word “sugar” in the list of ingredients.
Is there any healthy option within the products on the market?
There is, of course, there is. Knowing the search for the natural by a large part of the parents and responsible for the care of children there are companies with healthier options.
They are promoted as ecological and natural since in its list of ingredients there is hardly sugar, and the content in cereals is even of up to 99%.
What do these industrial grains carry? What are they made of? Basically of what should be made all other similar products: only cereals, except that the industrial ones are presented in flour form.
What kind of cereals can be bought from babies?
- Gluten-free cereals made from rice flour,
- Cereal powder made from oatmeal flour,
- Multi-grain paprika based on quinoa flour, wheat, corn, millet …
These options are healthy, much more than other sugary industrial cereals but if they are basically just cereal means we are buying “gold price” cereal flour.
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Another option widely used by our parents and grandparents was Maizena’s porridge, which is simply fine corn meal. They used to prepare it with milk and even with water.
Is it necessary to prepare cereal porridge with milk?
Absolutely it is. Although the most frequent preparation of the cereal porridge is with milk there are other options:
- Vegetable soup,
- Chicken broth (without salt),
As anecdotal notes, industrial cereals powder (are more or less sugary) do not usually thicken with breast milk so there is a double risk:
→ The mother may think that her milk is not “good”, being able to put an end to breastfeeding.
→ Add a larger amount of cereal than the recommended one to the preparation, which can cause kidney damage.
Is there a way to give cereals to babies if it is not in porridge?
Of course, there is a way to give them. Not only are there more options but they are much healthier. Let’s think for a moment what to give the baby: cereal.
- A piece of bread
- Corn tortillas (without salt)
- Cooked rice
- Noodle Soup…
We have many options, we have them within reach and their preparation is very simple.
Alternative recipes for cereal porridge:
Next, we will see two healthy recipes to be able to give cereals to the babies without having to resort to the commercial preparations that find for sale in supermarkets and pharmacies.
- Oatmeal (not bran, as the bran contains a lot of fiber and may be counterproductive for the baby).
- Put a saucepan with water on medium heat, and when it starts to boil add the oat flakes, about 2-3 tablespoons are enough for 150ml of water.
- We remove with a spoon frequently.
- When boiling starts lower the temperature and continue stirring until the porridge takes the desired consistency.
- Cool slightly.
- In addition to preparing them with water, you can also use some vegetable drink, a good choice would be the oat drink
- If we want to give a sweet touch, we can add pear or grated apple (if they have already tried it) next to the water
- We can add a little touch of cinnamon powder
Oatmeal and banana biscuits
- A ripe banana
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
- Crush the banana with a fork.
- Add oat flakes and mix until dense. About 6 tablespoons will suffice but will depend on the size of the banana.
- Shape and bake at 250 degrees until golden brown.
They are not crispy cookies but they are soft so the baby can take them without problem even if he does not have teeth.
This type of recipes and way of introducing cereals are a “classic” in a stream called Baby Led Weaning, which is self-feeding by the baby.
What do you think about the recipes? Have you ever thought of something like that for the introduction of cereals into baby food? Can you think of any other recipe?