Have you ever given a thought that the tiny little seed popularly known as the bird grain can transform your baby’s health and life! Yes, the ancient grain called Ragi or Finger Millet, has the properties which can make one healthy and energetic. It is one of those grains which has been traditionally being consumed in India since times immemorable but has become obsolete from our kitchens. Millets literally need no fertilizers and pesticides to grow, promising a complete organic approach. So far as organic baby food is concerned, Ragi is one of the superfoods which you can feed your babies staying assured that their nutritional requirements will be met. The grain may be tiny but, it is a power house of fiber, vitamins, minerals and iron, besides being gluten free.
Ragi comes across as a wonder grain which is a complete food for the babies. Also known as Nachni, it has been one of the ancient grains mentioned in our Upanishads as Rajika. It was grown even before the Aryans penetrated into the Indian peninsula.
Ragi is one of the few cereals that need not be polished, thus having all the bran and germ intact making it healthier than its counterparts. It is one of the healthy grains which has now been forgotten and replaced by profitable and relatively unhealthy staples.
When can Ragi be given to babies
Ragi can be given to babies as a first food to begin the weaning process. It is a very convenient Stage 1 baby food, which can be easily cooked and given to babies in different forms. It is pure, gluten free, easily digestible and high on nutritional value forming the perfect Indian baby food. One can start by giving a spoonful and gradually increase the quantity of the Ragi Porridge. An excellent weaning food, Ragi can be included in a 6-month baby diet chart.
Health benefits from Ragi for babies
Ragi imparts an array of nutritional benefits for babies and can very lovingly form a quintessential delicious platter for babies, providing them with a variety of non-monotonous nutritious food items.
So how does Ragi or Nachni constitute healthy baby food? Let us study the health benefits of Ragi.
- Bone development: No cereal comes close to Ragi or Finger Millet as far as calcium is concerned. Calcium rich baby food can be made from Ragi which helps strengthen baby bones and helps in their development at different growing stages.
- Helps prevent constipation: High fiber in Ragi as well as its property of being gluten free allows the nutrients to be easily absorbed by the babies’ developing intestine and aids in smooth digestion. Not many cereals can boast of being gluten free!
- Cures iron deficiency: High folic acid in Ragi helps in the synthesis of the Red Blood Cells in the infants, helping in maintaining the haemoglobin level in babies. This makes Ragi an excellent iron rich food for babies as well.
- Relaxant for babies: Ragi has Tryptophan, one of the essentials which is not synthesized by our body. It is an essential amino acid which helps in releasing Serotonin, which is responsible for maintaining a proper sleep cycle. This Stage 1 baby food helps babies keep calm and relaxed due to its anti-anxiety properties.
- Healthy liver and body: The amino acids present in Ragi helps the prevention of the fat in the liver. It helps to control the cholesterol level in the body and helps to prevent childhood obesity.
- High immunity: The anti-microbial properties in Ragi helps the babies stay away from bacterial infections. Babies have low immune system and super grains like Ragi helps them keep fortified against infections and keep infections away.
Hence, Ragi undoubtedly is one of the best organic baby food options available.
The Soaking and Sprouting Advantage
Whole grains by nature contain anti-nutrients which reduce the absorption of the main nutrients like calcium and iron. They also stick to the gut lining and effect the digestion process. Soaking for 8-10 hours reduces these anti-nutrients by almost 70%. Sprouting allows the outer layer of each seed to split open which allows the dormant seed to become an active life plant, allowing its nutritional value to rise. As a result, the calcium content increases by 20% and the iron content increases by 10 times. The sprouts also become rich in vitamin C, which helps in the absorption of the iron in the bloodstream.
Infants lack the necessary enzymes for digesting food and hence utmost care should be taken to ensure that the food they eat is easy on their little tummies while maximizing the nutrient absorption. Infant food prepared in a hygienic environment with the best of organic ingredients and techniques can go a long way in building your baby’s health for the rest of the life.
Ragi is a very practical ingredient and can go with any recipe very smoothly. Ragi porridge for babies with any fruit of your baby’s choice is an excellent addition to your baby’s diet and forms the base for meeting your baby’s nutrition requirements. So, let us be mindful of the ingredients that go into our baby porridges and try our hand at various Ragi recipes to ensure complete growth and development of our little ones.