There is no doubt that cereals are the most important source of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, vegetable proteins, and various carbohydrates. They add variety to the diet, increase its energy value and help maintain high growth and development of the infant, making them an indispensable complementary food product. Moreover, many experts are inclined to believe that cereal products should appear in the baby’s diet first after breast milk (or its substitutes). Other experts give porridge second place – after vegetables.
In any case, cereal complementary foods appear in the diet of a toddler, as a rule, even before he learns to chew. Accordingly, if mom decided to cook porridge herself, then she should worry about how to achieve a comfortable consistency. In addition, to start complementary foods, you should choose hypoallergenic cereals, which will be better absorbed by the immature gastrointestinal tract.
Rice, buckwheat or corn grits are ideal for the first cereal. It is believed that rice strengthens, buckwheat weakens, corn grits are neutral. Also, when choosing the first porridge, it should be borne in mind that it is easier for the baby to digest those foods that he has already tried through the placenta and breast milk (the choice usually falls on buckwheat or rice, since corn porridge is rarely found on the table of the adult population).
Before cooking, the cereals should be sorted out and washed with boiled water. Next, the groats can be ground in a coffee grinder to flour.
If mom doesn’t want to bother with grinding – in almost every large store there is buckwheat, rice and corn flour – this is the same cereal (Photo 1), which has already been ground for you. In addition, on boxes / bags with cereals, as a rule, there is an inscription that the product may contain traces of gluten, since such cereals are often packed in the same room with gluten-containing ones. At the same time, the main consumers of gluten-free flour are people with gluten intolerance, and therefore the likelihood of its content in flour is much lower.
For the first feeding, you can prepare a liquid porridge: one teaspoon of cereal flour per 100 ml of water. Moreover, the flour should be dipped in boiling water (it is not recommended to add water during cooking). The porridge is cooked for about three minutes, then it must be left to swell for another couple of minutes under the lid. Milk, sugar, salt, butter, etc. should not be added to cereals for the first feeding. If desired, you can dilute the resulting substance with breast milk or formula.
If mom decides to add the mixture, then the porridge should also be boiled in water, cooled and added to the finished warm liquid mixture in half proportion (for example, if 3 tablespoons of the mixture are needed per 100 ml of water, then 1.5 spoons per 100 ml of porridge in water ).
It is important to remember that babies have parietal digestion, which means that the child assimilates only the food that is literally smeared along the intestinal walls, so the first porridge should be about the consistency of mashed potatoes. When the baby gets used to this consistency, the amount of flour can be gradually increased. After the introduction of porridge into the diet of the little one, you can also introduce butter, which is added to the finished porridge in a small amount.
The inclusion of whole cow’s milk in the diet of a child under one year old is currently under great doubt, however, if the baby has poor weight gain or lack of calcium, then from nine months you can try to cook porridge in milk intended for children of this age. It is better if this milk is normalized ultra-pasteurized, and not whole – it is easier for an immature body to absorb.
The most natural way to make baby food porridge is to cook the cereal as usual for the whole family. When the porridge is ready, pour the main part (salt, add oil, spices, etc.), and add a little more boiling water to the remaining small portion (intended for the baby) and boil it harder. Such porridge can be passed through a blender or just knead well with a fork until a consistency is suitable for use by a child by age. In this case, vitamins and minerals are lost faster, but it is more interesting for the baby to eat what everyone else is eating.
You can also use the appropriate semolina for the preparation of porridge (Photo 2) – it is like semolina in consistency, it is prepared quite simply and is 100% gluten-free, which is important for the first feeding.
But the semolina itself (exactly the one that has been fed for more than one generation of babies) is better introduced later. Firstly, this is wheat groats – it contains gluten, and gluten is a fairly strong allergen. Secondly, it is rich in gluten, a protein of which (gliadin) sometimes provokes the onset of rather serious intestinal diseases. Thirdly, semolina is rich in starch, and the child’s body simply does not need so many carbohydrates, respectively, the digestive tract very often cannot cope with their digestion. Fourth, semolina contains a large amount of phytin (organic salt). Phytin interferes with the absorption of calcium, vitamin D and iron, which are essential for a child’s growth and development.
After the introduction of gluten-free cereals into the diet, it is better to introduce the baby to oatmeal. In terms of the amount of nutrients among cereal products, it occupies one of the leading positions, however, it contains gluten, so it should be administered with extreme caution to children who have a predisposition to allergic reactions or have problems with the gastrointestinal tract.
When the baby has mastered chewing skills, you can replace flour and semolina with appropriate cereals (Photo 3). The choice of flakes is now great, but you should always pay attention to the composition. Since the cereals are often stacked in the same room as instant cereals, they may contain traces of honey, peanuts, nuts, etc. As a rule, such cereals are cheaper than “clean” ones, but if there are no products in the child’s diet, traces of which can be found in the purchased box, it is better not to risk it.
There are also gluten-free pasta (Photo 4) that contain only certain gluten-free cereals and cornstarch. A well-chewing baby can sometimes be pampered with such a delicacy. Given that the little one can eat this dish with their hands on their own, this causes a storm of delight.
As for the additives, after the introduction of vegetables and fruits, they can be safely combined with cereals. But sugar, salt and other seasonings should not be added to cereals for at least a year. By the way, only love for sweets is innate. Salt receptors are absent in the child, therefore, the love for salt is acquired. If you do not accustom to salt, then it will not be a priority.
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