It is so important for your baby to have a healthy start to stay healthy lifelong.
Nutrition has always been one of the most important aspects of nurturing my baby girl. Right from the start, I did not make any compromises as far as her nutrition was concerned.
When I had my baby, her doctor advised me not to give water to my baby until she was 6 months old. This was per the latest WHO guidelines. But, it caused a lot of confusion in the elders in my family who failed to see the logic when generations of babies have survived drinking water right away.
After reading about the latest research studies and the paediatrician’s recommendation, I finally got my answer. When the breast milk itself was composed of 80% water, there was no need for an infant to consume extra water. Breast milk is a complete wholesome food in itself with all the required nutrients for the baby. I also learnt that drinking water would make the baby crave less for my breast milk. This was something that was not acceptable to me at all as I had already made up my mind to feed my baby my breast milk until she was 2 years old. Yes, I followed my doctor´s instructions to the T.
After six months, I began solids for my baby. I started preparing freshly mashed food following a strict ´Slow and Steady´ policy when it came to her nutrition. My baby´s diet went gradually from one mashed fruit or vegetable puree or ‘khichdi style’ mashed rice with one mashed vegetable or two with a tinge of ghee. I am a big believer in the powers of the humble desi ghee by the way!
I was extremely cautious at every step and was unwilling to take any risks as far my baby´s health was concerned. I was always vigilant as I was an asthmatic from birth and we had a history of asthma and food allergies from both sides in the family.
The general culprits are wheat, diary such as milk, eggs and nuts and in few exceptional cases, even rice. With the advent of processed foods, several other factors have also contributed to the rise of food allergies such as artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners, partially hydrogenated oils and fats.
Dealing with Food Allergy in Babies and Children
There is no such as thing as being too cautious when it comes to babies’ health and safety.
When allergies are left undetected and untreated in children, they begin to develop adult-onset diseases early in childhood such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, acid reflux, obesity and depression. Hence, children with food allergies should always be diagnosed by a qualified doctor as they grow up.
I read a lot and enquired with my doctor on babies’ nutrition, possible allergic reactions to look out, and the list of highly allergic and safe foods to give to my baby etc.
I became a ´nutritional detective´ of sorts – actively seeking clues and possible symptoms of food allergies that may arise. I looked out for any of the regular symptoms of food allergies – itchy rashes, hives, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, chest tightening, difficulty in breathing, wheezing etc.
Based on the inputs of our paediatrician, I was wary giving my baby the following foods right at the start were soy, wheat, peas, rajma, peanuts, corn, chocolate, cinnamon, honey, egg and meats. These food items were gradually introduced after getting the green signal from the doctor and much after, the baby was a lot older.
Special Focus on Nutrition
In a research study published by the American Academy of Paediatrics in 2013, it was suggested that introducing solid foods to babies younger than the recommended age of 4-6months could promote allergies. The study is against the idea and practice of introducing solid foods to babies before 17 weeks. The study is also vehemently in favour of breast-feeding “for as long as possible”.
Children with food allergies tend to be nutritionally deficient because of the omission of the problem food. They have to catch up with their nutrition twice as much as children without any food allergies. It is also a good idea to chart out a nutritional diet with the aid of your dietician.
Given the family history of asthma from my side and food allergies from my husband´s side, I took it extremely slow as I introduced a variety of food to my baby in various phases with sufficient time gaps. Wait for three days before introducing a new food. I was advised to maintain a food log where I would write down all that my baby ate each day. This came in handy in case of any adverse reaction to a new food.
After six months of exclusive breastfeeding my baby, I started to introduce pureed or mashed fruits and vegetables of various varieties and combinations.
This short video summarises so well all that we discussed so far.
Allergy Free Recipes for Babies
Allergy free baby food recipes do not have to be complicated, boring or tasteless.
You can get really creative when it comes to whipping up some tasty and highly nutritious allergy-free baby food. From the list of safe or allergy free foods to give babies, you can make countless meals as per your infinite imagination.
Like adults, babies have different taste, texture food preferences and tolerances. You will have to be patient and experiment till you zero in on your baby´s likes and dislikes. Study and understand their likings, preferences and tolerances.
You can peel and boil or steam some of the ingredients while keeping other ingredients fresh. When cooked, puree them in a blender.
Some of allergy free baby food recipes to try out are as follows
- Fresh Plum & Apple Puree Recipe by Michela Chippa
- Plums Summer Delight Recipe– Skip the oats if you want to be totally allergy safe or check with your doctor
- Apricot Apple Puree Recipe – Skip the cinnamon to make the recipe allergy-free.
- Pear, Prune & Banana Puree Recipe by Michela Chiappa
- Moong Dal Water (6 to 7 months month old baby) by Tarla Dalal
- Carrot-Apple-Mango Puree
- Peach-Mango-Carrot Mint Puree
- Fresh Mango and Roasted Pear Puree
- Pear-Apple-Apricots Puree
- Banana-Pear-Ginger Puree (Introducing strong and pungent tastes)
- Fruit and Rice Kheer
- Mango-Apple-Dried Cherry Puree
- Beets-Apple-Cloves Puree (Introducing strong and pungent tastes)
- Apple and Fennel Puree (Fennel brings relief to colic babies)
- Roasted Apple and Banana Puree
- Fresh Dates, Roasted Pear and Orange Peel Puree
- Vegetable Dal Puree
- Fruit puree and Yoghurt
Please do let me know if you tried any of these recipes and how was your baby’s reaction to it . And, what is your baby’s favourite food?
Finally, always remember when it comes to your little superstar – ´Start healthy, Stay healthy´
(This article was first published on @mycity4kids and sponsored by Nestle as part of ´Start Healthy Stay Healthy´campaign here: https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/beauty-and-the-mom/article/introduce-your-baby-to-solid-food-with-these-allergy-free-recipes)