Do you believe that you must keep your baby as far as possible from microorganisms like bacteria to keep them healthy?
Let go of that belief.
Babies need a gut full of microorganisms to stay healthy.
And that is why they must eat probiotic rich food.
What are the probiotic rich foods that babies can eat?
- Curd (dahi)
Curd set at home has been eaten in India from time immemorial and is a wonderful probiotic.
To make curd at home, heat the milk to just below boiling temperature. This kills all the bacteria in the milk and modifies the proteins so that the curd sets. Then add a bit of curd and mix it in well. Keep the mixture in an area where the temperature is around 40-45°C for around 4 hours.
2. Hand pounded chutneys
Chutneys can be made of anything. Coriander (dhania), mint (pudina), tomatoes, coconut, sesame seeds, peanuts, Gongura leaves and so many other things.
Pounding the raw ingredients by hand using a mortar and pestle or a sill batta, introduces a small number of microorganisms into the chutney.
This endows hand pounded chutneys with probiotic properties.
Chutneys made fresh every day and eaten in small quantities supply the gut with small doses of good micro-organisms.
3. Pickled vegetables
Vegetables pickled by fermentation are great probiotics.
Cauliflower, carrot, radish and other root vegetables can be pickled easily at home using mustard powder and water.
These can then be given to babies as finger foods that they can gnaw on.
This helps them develop a taste for vegetables. Constantly monitor the baby as they chew on pickled vegetables to avoid a choking incident.
To pickle vegetables like carrots – cut them into sticks and mix them with mustard powder, salt, and turmeric powder. Leave them for 2-3 hours and they will be ready to eat.
4. Ragi koozh
Ragi koozh for babies can be made by cooking ragi in water to a porridge like consistency and then mixing with buttermilk before serving.
Buttermilk is the probiotic here.
5. Fruit relish
Relishes are made with grated fruits left for a few hours in their own juices with a few appropriate spices like cinnamon. Because fruits have a large quantity of sugar in them, they ferment very quickly and rapidly turn into alcohol. To slow down the fermentation a grated vegetable can be added to the mix.
You can try combinations like apple-beetroot relish, pear-ginger relish, etc.
Fruit relishes supply the gut with a small number of good microorganisms.
Things to keep in mind
- Breastmilk is the first probiotic that babies need. Practice exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and then continue breastfeeding for as long as possible.
- Be cautious with fermentation. It can produce toxic products.
- Microorganisms enter the food as soon as it is handled or exposed to air. They then increase in number exponentially and reach very large numbers in 3-4 hours. Short periods of fermentation are therefore enough for foods that are being served to babies.
- Offer tiny quantities of probiotic rich foods from the time your baby starts solids. This will help your baby develop a taste for these foods.
Embrace traditional recipes and age-old eating practices to give your baby a gut full of good microorganisms and keep them healthy and happy.
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD is a practicing doctor, a parenting consultant, and the founder of WPA whatparentsask.com She conducts online and offline workshops on parenting for schools and corporate organisations. She also conducts online and offline prenatal and infant care classes. She is a well-known thought-leader in parenting and an expert on play, learning and eating habits. She is the author of 6 books on parenting published by Juggernaut Books and her books are among their most read books. She is frequently quoted in national and international publications of repute for her empathetic and compassionate approach to parenting and her application of physiology and brain science to parenting.