Starting solids, Asian style
Why should the adults have all the food fun? Fed up with freezing cubes of carrot puree for your little one? Gagging as you serve up yet another spoonful of rice cereal? (trust us, it happens) Why not tickle their tiny little tastebuds and load something new onto those plastic plates. You’ve come to the right place. We’ve got the low down on what babies eat all over Asia. Welcome to Asian Baby Weaning 101.
All Mums (and Dads) want to give their kids healthy food, sure. But does it have to be sooo bland and boring? Looking East, spices aren’t just reserved for grown ups. Bubbas are being given more ‘real food’ experiences right from the start. Kids will eat what we feed them, right? At least that’s what we believed before we had kids. Can we avoid future ‘fussy eaters’ by remembering that variety is the spice of life?
As handy as a jar of baby food is, sometimes it’s all just a bit gross. Lets put it like this: How would you feel if you were served up a squirt of grey, tuna casserole for dinner? A tuna casserole that had sat in a cupboard for two years. Yep, us too.
Research has shown that babies’ exposure to flavours, even during pregnancy, and from breast milk, informs their food preferences later on. Consider that a warning, ladies! Those ‘cravings’ may come back to bite you. ‘Mu-um! What do you mean I can’t have strawberry ice-cream on top of my fried chicken?’
Lucky little Japanese bubs get to slurp up ‘udon noodles, seaweed and fish’ says Miho MacCarthy (Mum to Yoshiki, 3 and Leina, 6 months). Japanese kids also like to get their flavour on with snacks like small dried fish and natto (fermented soya beans).
Many Korean Mums give kimchi (spicy, fermented vegetables) to babies. Kimchi is often rinsed in water or tea to dilute the heat and intensity, then rinsed less as they get kimchi crazy.
Chinese food simply wouldn’t be Chinese food without delicious ingredients like garlic, ginger, sesame oil and soy. These are often given early to little emperors. Rice congee with minced fish or tofu ticks all of our baby weaning boxes and new Mum Kerine Chen agrees. Kerine ‘prefers porridge as a first food’ for her gorgeous Zachary, nine months old.
Thai families believe that giving rice with kluay nam wah (small bananas) as a first food will make sure Thai bubbas ‘grow fast and be healthy’. Rachna Pathela (Mum to Avi, 5 and Ansh, 2) cooks with ‘basic herbs and spices like garlic, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and sometimes pepper’. Talk about yum.
Indian babies are spicy babies. Turmeric, cumin and cinnamon are favourites for tiny tummies and yoghurt is often mixed in to soften spicy dishes. Aarti Thapar’s lucky kids (Mia, 4 and Jay, 2) go nuts for protein packed daal. She says, ‘it’s the staple in our house for the kids – onions, garlic, ginger, split yellow lentils and turmeric’. Aarti’s family love mustard, cumin and coriander too. Forget the kids, we just wish Aarti would invite us round for dinner.
Still wondering where to start? We’ve got a few great recipes for you to try! Check out this Spiced Carrot and Rice Puree recipe. Or mash up your mash with a Sweet Potato Coconut Puree. Both are from Weelicious.com, so we know they’ve been kid tested, mother approved!
Images from: Lucy Cleeve, Weelicious.com.