Lentils are an excellent source of protein, iron, and fiber making them a great first food for babies. In many cultures around the world, lentils are used in baby food recipes to boost the nutrition of the meal. Let us look at some of the benefits of lentils for babies, lentil recipes for babies, and tips on how to cook them.
BENEFITS OF LENTILS FOR BABIES
Lentils are an excellent source of iron for babies. Iron helps in the formation of red blood cells and also plays a crucial role in brain development.
Lentils are a good source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues in the body.
Lentils are also a great source of fiber, which helps regulate digestion and prevent constipation.
Let us address some of the commonly asked questions about introducing lentils to babies.
AT WHAT AGE CAN LENTILS BE INTRODUCED TO BABIES?
Lentils can be introduced to babies from 6 months of age. Lentil puree, lentil soup, lentil potato mash, and rice and lentil balls are some of the ways in which lentils can be offered to babies.
WHICH LENTILS ARE BEST FOR BABY?
All lentils are okay for babies to consume as long as they are soaked, rinsed, and then cooked. This reduces bloating and helps in the better absorption of vitamins and minerals.
HOW TO COOK RED LENTILS FOR BABY?
Red lentils are one of the most nutrient-dense lentils. It contains a high amount of iron and makes the perfect baby food for growth and development.
To cook red lentils, first wash overnight soaked red lentils to remove any phytates. Phytates render a bitter taste to lentils and are also known to block the absorption of iron. Soaking, rinsing, and cooking the lentils all help in removing phytates from the lentils.
BASIC RECIPES OF LENTILS FOR BABIES
- Lentil Puree: Wash and soak 1 cup of lentils in water for a few hours. Cook the lentils in a pressure cooker until they are soft. Blend the lentils into a smooth puree, adding water or breast milk to get the desired consistency.
- Lentil and Vegetable Soup: Cook 1/2 cup of lentils along with vegetables like carrots, onions, peas, and spinach in a pot of water. Once cooked, blend the mixture into a smooth soup.
- Lentil and Rice Porridge (Khichdi): Cook 1/4 cup of lentils and 1/4 cup of rice together in a pot of water until soft and fluffy. This porridge can be mushed and made into balls for easy self-feeding for the baby.
Another super healthy lentil recipe for a baby is given below. It combines the goodness of whole red lentils and sweet potato to make an iron-rich meal for the baby.
Lentil Sweet Potato Mash -Lentils for Babies
- 1/2 cup whole red lentils boiled or flash cooked
- 2 sweet potatoes boiled
- 1/3 cup pumpkin boiled
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Mash and combine the boiled lentils, sweet potatoes and pumpkin.
- In a pot heat a little oil, and add the mash followed by the spice powders.
- Cook for another 7-10 minutes.
- Mix well and serve along with toast or as is.
TIPS FOR COOKING WITH LENTILS
- Soak lentils for a few hours before cooking to reduce cooking time and aid in digestion.
- Cook lentils until they are soft and easily mashed with a fork.
- Experiment with different lentil varieties like red, green, and black lentils to add variety to your baby’s diet.
- Add spices like cumin, coriander, and turmeric to lentil dishes to enhance flavor and add additional health benefits.
Do try lentils for your baby and tell me how they liked these lentil recipes in the comments below.
For more yummy and healthy children’s recipes check the recipe section of this blog.
Until next time!