Ragi is popular among the healthy eaters due to its high nutritional value and could provide a good dose of all the essential nutrients to the human body. But every mother is very conscious about what she feeds her child, especially during her child’s infancy.
“Is it safe to consider ragi for babies?” “When and how can we feed ragi for babies?”, “How can baby enjoy ragi benefits?”, “Is there a possibility of side effects on my baby?” - these are the common questions that pops up in every mother’s mind while introducing a new food to the baby and ragi is no exception. Here is everything you need to know to answer all those questions and clarify your mind.
Table of Content
What is Ragi?
Ragi (also known as finger millet or Nachni) is a healthy cereal packed with high amount of proteins, iron and calcium. The scientific name of this cereal crop is Eleusine coracana. It belongs to the annual herbaceous plant group and grows in the arid and semiarid regions. It could be produced in even drought-stricken areas.
The ragi health benefits are numerous but most of us lack the knowledge of how exactly ragi is beneficial for our body. And when it comes to the health benefits of ragi for babies, The ragi nutritional value helps in their growth and development. Ragi can be consumed in the form various dishes - Ragi roti (prepared from ragi atta or ragi flour), Ragi dosa, Ragi fritters.
[Read: Ragi For Babies: Is It Safe?]
Ragi Nutritional Value
Ragi for babies is excellent due to ragi nutritional value. The ragi health benefits also owe to the fact that ragi contains one of the best nutritional profile. It contains all the necessary nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, fibers, etc. The nutritional profile of the most assured nutritious cereal is as follows:
When and How to Introduce Ragi For Babies?
Although most of the baby needs exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of infancy for best weight gain, health and immunity, each baby’s needs differ. For a few babies, the paediatrician himself might suggest to start feeding ragi after 3 months. But how to introduce ragi for babies? Here are a few tips:
Since doctors know what is best for your child, it is advised to consult your doctor before planning on introducing ragi for babies. Most of the doctors would approve ragi as a first food as it is gluten-free and is least allergenic. But take care the ragi flour or ragi atta is in the pure form and not contaminated with other products like barley or wheat. In case of contamination, your child might face health issues such as allergy, rashes, colic, diarrhoea, etc. Such ragi side effects could be avoided by preparing the ragi flour at home itself.
After feeding the baby with ragi, it is best to follow the 3-day wait rule. Do not introduce any new food for 3-4 days after feeding ragi for the first time. This helps in determining if your baby is allergic to ragi or able to enjoy ragi benefits. If the baby is struggling to get used o ragi, he might show the symptoms of rashes, indigestion, restlessness, colic or diarrhoea. In case of such symptoms, it is best to stop feeding ragi porridge or any form of ragi for the baby and get the advice of the doctor.
For babies of age less than 6 months, the ragi porridge is better made from extracted ragi milk or from homemade ragi flour.
It is best not to cook ragi with milk or add curd to the ragi porridge as milk or curd could hinder the iron absorption in ragi. Instead the absorption of iron from ragi could be increased by serving ragi porridge with fruits which are rich in vitamin C.
Easy Ragi Porridge Recipe For Your Baby
There are two methods of ragi porridge preparation you could follow for babies under 10 months.
With the blended mixture:
1. Ragi should be washed and soaked for 8 to 10 hours.
2. Blend the drained off ragi in a blender jar with a little water.
3. Collect the milk from that blender by extracting the milk from the blended mixture with the help of a cloth and colander.
4. Cook this liquid on a low flame until the mixture is thickened and serve it when it is still warm. Warmer foods will be light on tummy and digest well.
With the ragi flour:
1. For babies under 5 months, it is best to prepare ragi flour at home and then sieve it through a muslin cloth because babies at that age can’t swallow anything coarse.
2. Add the powder along with water.
3. Break all the chunks of powder. If using jaggery, add it to the warm water, melt it on low flame and filter it to the mixture of ragi flour and water.
4. Cook this mixture on low flame till it reaches semi-thick consistency.
5. Serve when it is warm enough for your baby.
Ragi Porridge for babies above 10 months:
For babies above 10 months, you can add 2-3 almonds as well to boost the nutrition value of the ragi porridge.
1. Soak almonds in water for 4 to 6 hours.
2. Peel the skin and blend with the jar along with ragi and a little water.
3. Prepare the ragi porridge with the help of any of the above methods.
4. It is best to soak and powder the walnut or almonds as this is easier for babies to digest than dry powder of almond or walnut.
Ragi Health Benefits For Your Little One
Ragi health benefits are tremendous for adults and so is ragi for babies. Ragi benefits the babies in most of the ways of providing nutrition, helping in weight gain to helping them to have a sound sleep. Here is a list of the ragi benefits your baby could enjoy.
High ragi nutritional value:
Ragi or ragi flour is packed with nutrients. Hence providing ragi for babies could prevent malnutrition in them and also provide them an adequate amount of energy.
Ragi is non-acidic and non-glutinous and also it is a well-known laxative. So, there are least chances that your child suffers from constipation or any similar health issues.
Along with being extremely healthy to your baby, it contains tryptophan amino acid which could curb appetite.
Keeps your baby full:
The complex carbohydrates in the ragi help in releasing the glucose slowly into the bloodstream of your baby. Hence, the ragi helps your child in feeling contented for a longer time than any other baby foods.
Contented and satisfied baby sleeps well. The ragi could help your child in feeling full and hence help in getting good sleep.
Prevents iron and calcium deficiencies:
The rich amount of iron and calcium in ragi could prevent any sort of deficiencies and also improves the blood production in the body significantly.
The high ragi nutritional value benefits your baby by boosting your baby’s immunity.
Possible Side Effects of Ragi:
Along with ragi health benefits, side-effects of ragi exists but it depends on the amount of ragi consumed. Eating in moderation is the only way to stay safe from the side effects of ragi.
The cooling effect of ragi could make your baby suffer from cold in winter time. So, it is best to avoid ragi during winter and when your baby is already suffering from cold.
Ragi could aid in the excess production of oxalic acid in the body when consumed excessively and could result in the formation of kidney stones and urinary calculi. So, it is better to consume ragi in moderate amount.
The end note is - if you have even the slightest of doubt about consuming ragi, don’t assume the best of the ragi and take the risks. Consult your baby’s paediatrician and follow what they advise.