Barley as Baby Food

Minerals are as important for babies growth as protein, iron or calcium. Talking about minerals, the first thing which strikes our mind is the iron, potassium or some crystalline chemical compounds found in the core of the earth! Definitely we don’t have to dig the earth to feed the minerals to babies as they are not just easily available but loaded in abundance in some tiny seeds, and one of them being Barley.

The new age moms today have the power of making the correct choice for their baby food through several medium of research. Looking for the correct baby food, which will not only promote the growth and development of the baby but also make the immune system strong, is one of her concerns. The kind of food given to babies plays a major role in their development. Healthy food means, healthy guts leading to proper digestion and hence healthy babies!

Barley, Jau, Parli, Jab or Pachcha Yavurulu is one of the super grains hailing from the grass family carrying with it immense potential of developing the immune system. Known as Shaeir in Arabic, Cebada in Spanish, Orge in French, its presence is across the globe.  There are several modern food items coming up these days. But when we have options of feeding our little ones the tried and tested ancient grains which has been passed down to us from several generations, then why should be overlook their nutritional facts! Even today, Barley has been tagged by the scientist through researches, as one of the commonly accessible superfood.

Health benefits for babies from Barley …

Barley is one of the top 5 grains produced all over the world. Yet its potential of being an enriching infant food is not known to many. Barley nutrition hails from the fact that it is super rich in insoluble fiber and minerals. This aids in not only the healthy growth of the babies but also makes their immune system stronger. Some of the health benefits from barley are as follows:

  • Promotes healthy bones and teeth: after calcium, our bones are made up of phosphorous. Barley being super rich in phosphorous aids in healthy bone and teeth development.
  • Aids iron absorption: you feed baby with iron rich food, but what use it is if it is not being absorbed by the body? Copper present in barley helps in the absorption of the iron in babies which is essential for keeping anemia at bay.
  • Boosts immune system: being highly nutritious it is helpful at strengthening the immune system. Barley has a certain biochemical Thaumatin, having antifungal properties. It reduces the chances of catching cold and flu. Warm barley soup can be given to babies with a very thin consistency, along with vegetables to help them stay warm and protected.
  • Promotes strong liver: the excess bile acid can cause damage to the liver. Regular consumption of Barley safeguards the liver from such damages.
  • Keeps the intestine healthy: fiber in barley prevents constipation by decreasing the transit time of fecal matter. The dietary fiber of Barley also provides for the food for “friendly” bacteria in the large intestine. Butryic acid produced by them serves as the primary fuel of the cells of the large intestine and helps maintaining a healthy colon. The insoluble fiber in barley is helpful for babies in both the condition of diarrhea as well as constipation. Promising a healthy bowl movement in the little ones.
  • Selenium is one ingredient not present in many food. Its presence in Barley too helps detoxify cancer causing compounds in the body.
  • Choline in barley is another versatile nutrient that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline in barley also assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation. 
  • Magnesium plays an important role in insulin production and body’s use of sugar. 
  • Reduces the risk of child developing asthma: studies have shown that barley given to babies as infant food seemed to reduce the risk of developing asthma in early childhood.
  • Prevents urinary tract infection: consumed in the form of barley water, it works like a powerful diuretic and helps in the production of urine, keeping UTI infections at bay. 
  • The cool grain – Minerals in Barley water has a very cooling effect on our body. Regular consumption of barley water to during heated summers protects babies from the harsh sunstroke.

Know more about Barley…

Barley can be found in the market in different forms.

  • Hulled Barley: in this the outermost hull of the grain is all that is removed. It undergoes minimal processing. Hulled barley requires more soaking and cooking time. It is also more chewy. It makes a very nutritious food.
  • Pearl Barley: this form of barley is polished. In this procedure the grains bran and the innermost endosperm layer may be removed. Different level of ‘pearling’ have different nutritive value. It is less chewy and easier to cook. Pearl barley are the best for babies as they are light on their tummy.
  • Pot/scotch Barley: this variety of barley is somewhere between the hulled barley and the pearl barley. It is polished keeping in mind to make the grain remain intact with its nutrients, removing only the hull.

Quick tips to prepare Barley for babies…

Barley has a subtle nutty flavor and is easily chewable. It is one of the wonder grains which is easily digested by the babies tummy. Barley being very subtle in taste blends well with other edibles. A wide range of dishes can be presented to babies, combining them with several lentils and vegetables along with barley. This allows them to not only get to taste different varieties but also avail nutrition from several sources.

Barley is a very versatile grain and can be given to babies in several forms:

The way in which we can be give barley to babies in broadly classified in three forms:

  • Soup
  • flour
  • Water

Barley can be easily incorporated as organic baby food. Here are some suggestions:

  • Barley can be cooked in your choice of broth and vegetables.
  • Make delicious barley porridge for babies sweetening with dates or jaggery.
  • Adding barley to any pot of soup or stew makes it more nutritious.
  • Barley flour can be used for making bread and cookies or other savouries.
  • Barley powder can be added to smoothies and milkshakes for babies combined with different fruits.
  • Last but not the least barley water, which can be simply sipped by babies

Right time to introduce Barley…

Barley can be introduced to babies anywhere between 6 to 8 months of age. But since barley contains gluten as well, it is advisable to check with your health expert before starting this for your baby.

However, do follow the 3 days rule before feeding barley to your little one. Start with a few table spoon initially. Wait for 3 days to analyse if baby shows any allergic reaction. Meanwhile do not introduce any new food.

Points to take care of before going ahead with barley…

Barley is rich in gluten. So, if there has been a history of celiac disease in your family it is advisable not to feed the baby with it.

Barley is one of the grain boosted up with loads of fiber and minerals. Being versatile in nature we can go ahead making dishes from khichari, porridge, soup, stews and milkshakes to baked items. Barley merges well with all vegetables allowing Moms to pick any available fresh vegetable in her stock and make a nutritious filling dish for her little one. The more we talk about barley benefits the less it is! It is a quintessential grain for the healthy development of infants. Giving babies barley in their meal will help keep supplements away. So, you can go ahead making babies consume barley as a superb organic baby food and enjoy all the mineral benefits this grain can offer!

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