Whole Grains for Babies and Children

Whole grains are one of the best sources of fibre, protein and carbohydrates that your child would need as a part of their healthy diet. Whole grains come in different sizes, shapes, colours and most importantly taste. There are typical ways to prepare them which are as varied as the place in which they are grown. They are also rich in vitamins and many minerals. It is widely suggested by the doctors that this food should form the major part of the energy for a child. Replacing refined ingredients with whole grains while cooking is a good way of introducing children to consume whole grains.

What are Whole Grains?

A grain of any cereal containing the parts bran, germ and endosperm is known as a whole grain. Unlike the refined cereals which contain only the endosperm, whole grains are a nutritious option for babies and older children. The outermost layer of the whole grain is known as bran. It contains the nutrients niacin, thiamin, iron, zinc and riboflavin. It is also very rich in colors. The second layer, known as a germ, is also known to be a good source of vitamins and proteins. The third layer, known as the endosperm, is rich in protein and carbohydrate.

Why Should Whole Grains be Given to Children?

Whole grains are bursting with vitamins, antioxidants, phytochemicals and fibre which are essential for your child’s growth. The nutrients reduce the chances of developing chronic ailments such as heart disease, certain types of cancers and even diabetes. The fibre in the grains makes your child feel satiated thereby controlling snacking.

When to Introduce Whole Grains to Your Child?

This chart will guide you when to introduce whole grains to your child

Whole Grain  6 months 1yr 2yr 3 yr
Oats 3- 4 tbsp
1–2 times/week
4 8 tbsp
once a day
1/4th cup
every day
½ cup
every day
Brown rice ½ cup
2 times/week
1 serving
1– 2 times/week
1 serving
1-2 times/week
1 serving
2- 3 times/week
Millet ½ cup
2 times/week
1 serving
2-3 times/week
1 serving
2-3 times/week
1 serving
2-3 times/week

How to Introduce Whole Grains into Your Child’s Diet?

The key to introducing whole grains into your child’s food is by making a healthy choice and being mindful of the ingredients that are being used for the meals they eat.

1. Use a Good Mix of Grains

It is usually seen to benefit if you are able to mix refined grains with whole grains to your daily dishes. This would be a good way to introduce the picky eaters to a slightly heavier texture and flavour of whole grains. Nowadays, you can also find whole grain rice for baby and whole grain baby cereal in the market specifically for smaller children.

2. Healthy Baking

Try replacing the refined flours with more whole grains like spelt, rye or whole wheat while baking. Is your child fussy? Replace half of the quantities initially to retain that familiar flavour and texture.

3. Opt for Convenient Food which is Not Processed

With our busy lifestyles, it’s easier to find solace in fast food. But try not to go that way, instead buy food that is convenient and healthy too. Introduce your children to quinoa bread or rye crackers or cereal bars made of sesame seeds.

4. Give Your Day a Healthy Start

Breakfast is the best time to start your day on a healthy note. Oatmeal , whole grain bread for baby, or buckwheat pancakes give your child the much-needed boost to carry out all their activities throughout the day. Some stores even sell whole grain baby oatmeal for smaller kids.

5. Use Your Creativity To Add A Side Dish

Introducing children to creative side dishes while they enjoy their favorite meals are a great way to get them to eat some whole grains. Whole grain bread with a soup or stew is a very good option for a wholesome meal.

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