The physical and mental development of children is paramount for every parent. Ensuring your child's nutrition is both necessary and challenging at times. The secret lies in discovering the food that can provide maximum nutrition. One of these is the Indian staple food, Millet. Millet is a wonderful grain for your baby. It is gluten-free, nutritious, easily digestible and a less allergenic grain, suitable as a solid food for your baby. Moreover, the size and shape of millet resemble barley which makes it excellent finger food. The smooth texture ensures easy digestion.
Neha Tripathi, a Dietitian from Delhi says, "A child needs to be on mother's milk till babies are 6-8 months old at least. After that, babies can gradually be introduced to millets when he/she can chew on semi-solid foods. You can start with softer preparations like bajra khichdi or ragi porridge. It is best, to begin with, a spoonful, and then gradually increase the quantity. As the baby grows older, you can give your child jowar or ragi rotis, millet dosas, pancakes or mixed vegetable stews made with millets."
Millet has a mild flavour with a sufficient protein content similar to rice and wheat. It will, therefore, satisfy a hungry baby's appetite.
Some common millets used in India for children are:
Following are the amazing health benefits of millet for babies:
1. Easily digestible
Millets are gluten-free and soothing cereals. Thus, they possess smooth digestion properties.
2. Maintains body processes
The essential mineral phosphorus helps form bones and utilize fats, carbohydrates, and protein for various functions to keep our body working properly.
3. Improves iron deficiency
Millet is an excellent source of iron and cures anaemia in babies.
4. Supports bone development
Millet contains a high proportion of calcium and regulates the bone development process of small and growing children.
5. Calms mood
Millet is a complex carbohydrate that helps in producing serotonin in the body. Serotonin has properties to calm your baby's mood.
6. Helps With Metabolic Rates
A key mineral involved with breaking down and metabolizing fats is phosphorus, which is essentially also important in repairing damaged tissues. Most types of millets are rich in phosphorus.
It is also important to incorporate other healthy ingredients into your child's meal plan, millets are superfoods but they cannot be the entire diet for your child. To better understand the nutritional requirements of your child and how to incorporate millets into their diet, do consult your dietician or nutritionist.