Congratulations, your bundle of joy is now six months old! While exclusive breastfeeding was best for your baby for the first half of the year, now that your baby is 6 months old breast milk alone will not suffice to meet his/her nutritional needs. Introducing complementary foods at this time will help meet the increasing nutrition requirements of your growing baby. We know as a concerned mother you want to give your baby the best including a better start in life and what better than introducing ragi porridge which is an ideal six-month baby food.
Ragi, although a tiny millet, is a powerhouse of nutrients, especially calcium, that can help meet the energy and nutrient gap at six months of age when breast milk alone is not enough. A variety of recipes can be made with ragi for your baby: ragi porridge or java, ragi kanji, ragi sheera, ragi idli/dosa and many more. Ragi porridge is a simple, easy to make, no nonsense recipe that can be introduced as a complementary food.
Let’s find answers to the 7 key questions relating to ragi porridge for babies.
Question 1: What is ragi porridge?
Ragi porridge or java is a thick gruel made by boiling ragi flour with milk or water and sweetener of choice. It has a chocolate brown colour with a smooth, creamy texture and is often given as a first food to babies in South India.
Question 2: How is ragi porridge made?
Here is how you can make ragi porridge at home which is low-cost, hygienic and nutritious. Either ragi powder or ragi malt can be made in a large quantity and stored. A spoonful or two is used at a time to make porridge. For making ragi powder simply roast the ragi and grind into a fine powder.
How to make Ragi Malt for Ragi Porridge
How to make Ragi Malt?
Here is how you can make ragi malt.
Take a cup full of ragi and soak it in water overnight.
Drain off the water and tie it in a muslin cloth and allow to germinate for 8-10 hours.
After gemination, dry it in the sun.
Next, roast it in a pan until the aroma wafts out.
Allow it to cool and then grind to a fine powder. Sieve it so that coarser particles can be put back in the grinder for a second round of grinding.
Your ragi malt powder is ready.
Store it in an airtight container.
This ragi malt powder can be ingeniously used to make not just porridge but even halwa, sheera, laddus and lots more.
How to make Ragi Porridge?
Now that you have the ragi powder or ragi malt powder ready let’s learn how to make ragi porridge for babies.
Take a spoonful of ragi malt powder or ragi powder in a pan, roast it with a dollop of ghee or fat, add water and stir it to dissolve any lumps.
Add milk (if desired) and bring it to a required consistency.
It can be sweetened by adding jaggery if needed or better still add some mashed banana or chickoo after removing from the flame and before feeding the baby.
The consistency of the porridge can be thick enough where it does not drip off but stays on the spoon. The ragi porridge is now ready for your baby to relish.
Question 3: Who all can be given ragi porridge?
Ragi porridge is a favourite not just with babies but also pregnant and lactating mothers who can benefit from its nutritious and health benefits. Even the sick and invalid or elderly with no teeth can benefit from eating ragi porridge since no chewing is involved.
Question 4: Why should babies be given ragi porridge?
The varied health and nutritious benefits of ragi porridge merit it being a recipe of choice for babies. Here’s why you should choose ragi porridge for babies:
- Calcium which is needed for strong and healthy bones and teeth of babies is the most vital nutrient of ragi porridge. Ragi has three times more calcium than milk and compared to other cereals and millets is a clear winner for its calcium content.
- Ragi porridge is high in fibre which prevents constipation, so it is goodbye to babies crying when passing stools.
- Unlike wheat, rye and barley, ragi porridge is gluten free and is safe for babies who have gluten sensitivity and cannot digest this protein.
- Since ragi porridge has milk, fat and fruit sweetener added to it, it is nutrient dense and a meal in a dish for your baby.
- The addition of milk increases the protein & calcium content of the porridge which is essential for your baby’s growth and development.
Question 5: When should babies be given ragi porridge?
Since your baby is now 6 months old it is the perfect time to introduce ragi porridge. It can be given at lunch time, dinner time, morning or evening. There is no evidence that states that ragi porridge shouldn’t be given at certain times of the day or night or even seasons.
Question 6: How much ragi porridge should be given to the baby?
For your baby who is now 6 months old, you can give him/her 2-3 tablespoons at a time. It can be given up to twice a day to the baby. Make sure it is freshly prepared each time or hygienically stored and reheated before serving the second time. As the baby grows you can gradually increase it to half of a 250 ml cup by his/her first birthday.
Question 7: Which is the best form of ragi porridge?
Ragi porridge for babies as we just learnt can be made with ground ragi flour, as well as, with sprouted ragi malt. So, which one is better, you may ask? The one made with ragi malt wins hands down and here is why.
Ragi Malt vs Ragi Flour
During germination, the starch in ragi is converted into maltose (a form of sugar) due to the production of the enzyme amylase. Due to this conversion, the porridge becomes less bulky and thinner. This means that more flour can be added to the porridge to make it denser and increase its calorie content. This calorie dense porridge is beneficial for your baby who cannot be fed large quantities of food at a time as his/her small stomach can only hold approximately 200-240 ml food at a time. Another benefit is that during sprouting, phytates, which prevent absorption of calcium, are reduced so more calcium is now absorbed from ragi by the body.
So when are you heading to the kitchen to make ragi porridge for your baby?
Do share with us your experience.
Happy cooking and bon appetit!