Introduction – What is Ragi?
Ragi (finger millet) is a grain that belongs to the same family as bajra or pearl millet and has been named after its finger-like appearance.
Ragi has been used for centuries by Indian mothers to prepare healthy and nutritious porridges for their children. The roots of ragi are also used to alleviate abdominal pains. Ragi can be consumed either as just boiled water with a little salt, jaggery or by adding milk or buttermilk. It is also used in making chivda or snacks.
Is Ragi good for Babies?
This is one of the most common questions by new moms.
Read on to find out the many benefits, how much ragi to give babies, ragi recipe for babies, its side effects & more in this blog post.
6 Benefits of Ragi
There are many benefits of Ragi and it is a rich source of vitamins, minerals.
Loved especially by fitness lovers and very popular among the weight watchers, here are 6 benefits that we would like to list about Ragi –
- Well, Ragi has tremendous health benefits since it is rich in minerals and vitamins such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron.
- The high fiber content in ragi reduces the risk of constipation and other bowel-related problems while its water-soluble components (polyphenols) reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems.
- Ragi is also an excellent source of proteins and has been found to be extremely useful in relieving malnutrition in developing countries such as India where ragi porridge, which is rich in carbohydrates and protein, can help combat food deficiencies.
- It also helps lower LDL cholesterol levels and blood pressure while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
- One of the most interesting things about ragi is that it can produce enzymes that can break down starch.
- These properties of ragi make it a unique crop and its leaves and roots could be used as an ideal home remedy to treat several ailments.
Why does my baby need it?
Ragi porridge is an ideal way of supplying these nutrients to babies since it contains all the essential ingredients necessary for healthy growth.
- Ragi is a nutritious food for babies. Ragi flour contains a lot of starch and carbohydrates which babies need in order to grow well.
- It’s easy to digest and has the right amount of nutrients for growing babies.
- Ragi porridge is also rich in minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and iron which are essential for your baby’s normal bone growth.
- Increases immunity, reduces the risk of diabetes, and prevents constipation in infants.
- Provides calcium which helps develop strong bones and teeth.
- Ragi can be used as a substitute for rice or wheat flour when cooking baby cereal or porridge.
- Also contains antioxidants that help protect against free radicals – this makes it an ideal food for expectant mothers who are trying to conceive, pregnant women, nursing mothers, children aged 1-3 years old.
- Ragi porridge which is prepared from ragi flour or coarsely ground ragi seeds is a healthy substitute for babies who cannot have breastmilk and other foods. It can be given to babies from 6 months of age and continued till the baby is 3 years old.
Read more about baby biscuits to understand when you can start different types of baby biscuits, suitable age to give them including ragi biscuits.
How much should I give him/her?
A baby can have a maximum of 100 ml of ragi porridge in a single sitting.
If your baby is 6 months old, you can boil the ragi flour in 200 ml of water and add milk (diluted by half) to make the porridge slightly thicker than usual.
If your baby vomits or has loose motions while taking ragi porridge, reduce the quantity of ragi porridge being given to him/her.
Do not boil ragi flour in just water for more than 10 minutes. If you are making ragi porridge in less than 10 minutes, add some jaggery or sugar to make it tasty and soft enough for your baby.
If your baby is not able to digest ragi porridge, avoid giving ragi flour for some time and start with it after consulting your pediatrician.
Do not add too much jaggery or sugar to the ragi porridge since the added sugar can increase diarrhea in your baby if he/she has loose motions.
When should I start giving it to them?
Make ragi porridge for your baby from the time that he/she is 6 months old.
However, if you are breastfeeding your baby and give him/her ragi porridge, stop breastfeeding for a few days before restarting it so that there is no excess sugar from the ragi which can get passed into the breastmilk.
Babies who are taking ragi porridge for the first time may experience loose motions, but it is normal. If your baby has loose motions even after taking several servings of ragi porridge, stop giving the porridge temporarily and start with it again after consulting your physician.
Remember that babies need to be exposed to more than one food so as to allow their bodies to get used to different kinds of foods. You can start giving your baby other foods along with ragi porridge so that he/she receives a variety of nutrients throughout the day.
What are the side effects of ragi in babies?
An excessive amount of ragi porridge cannot provide iron or calcium, so it is better to increase the quantity of milk/breastfeed given to your baby.
If you suspect that your baby may have diarrhea and loose motion due to overfeeding with ragi porridge, then stop giving him/her this porridge temporarily or until your pediatrician says that it is okay.
The only downside is that ragi has a strong flavor which may not be appealing to some children.
Remember not to give ragi porridge in cases where your baby’s stool/urine has blood in it, or if he/she vomits for more than 3 days.
Simple Ragi Recipe – How to prepare ragi for baby?
The ragi porridge is usually made by boiling coarsely ground ragi flour in water until it gets thick and then adding milk, jaggery, or other ingredients.
However, it is advisable to consult your pediatrician before you start giving porridge to your baby because some babies may not be able to digest ragi flour which can worsen diarrhoea and loose motion in them.
Some mothers who are unable to get ragi flour prefer mixing ragi powder with rice powder or jowar powder and boiling it in water.
However, it is not advisable to mix ragi with rice or jowar since ragi needs to be consumed separately by itself without mixing with other ingredients.
If you want to add some flavor, try adding cinnamon or cardamom powder before cooking it down into porridge consistency.
Rice porridge is another alternative that you can offer your baby if she does not prefer eating ragi porridge made from ragi flour.
However, rice porridge must be given to the baby only after consulting your pediatrician since babies with diarrhoea are usually advised not to have food cooked in rice for some time so as to allow their intestines to recover from the effects of diarrhoea.
FAQs – Commonly Asked Questions About Ragi for Babies
- Can I add ragi to my baby’s milk?
You can add a paste made from boiled ragi flour to your baby’s milk after boiling it in water and straining out the solids. However, it is better to consult a pediatrician before doing so because your baby may not be able to digest the ragi flour if he/she is suffering from loose motions or diarrhoea.
- I want to know how much ragi should be added to one meal for my baby?
For babies who are 6 months old, you can add 2 tablespoons of ragi flour while preparing their milk. If your child is older than 6 months, you can add one tablespoon of ragi flour while preparing his/her milk.
- Can I give my baby a mixture of ragi and rice powder?
No, ragi should always be given to a baby on its own without mixing it with other ingredients. Rice porridge is an alternative that you can offer to your baby if he/she does not like ragi porridge.
- How much ragi should I add to the flour while making chapati dough for my baby?
A paste made from boiled ragi flour can be added to your baby’s chapati dough after boiling it in water and straining out the solids before mixing it with wheat flour. You can also add a paste made from ragi flour to your baby’s chapati dough before cooking it on the tava/pan/griddle.
- My baby is 6 months old and I am planning to start giving him solids. Can I give him only Ragi?
No, you should not feed your baby ragi on its own. Ragi porridge should be given to your baby along with milk/breastfeed/formula milk if he/she is 6 months old or younger while giving other solids should be started after consulting your pediatrician.
- Is it okay if I mix some jaggery powder in the ragi porridge while making it?
Yes, you can add jaggery powder to the ragi flour before boiling it in water. This will not only make your baby’s ragi taste good but also help in boosting its iron content.
- Can I give my baby cow’s milk along with ragi porridge?
You should not give your baby cow’s milk along with ragi porridge because it may lead to constipation. If your baby is 6 months old, you can start giving him/her 1-2 tablespoons of formula milk after 1 hour of feeding him/her with ragi porridge made from jaggery.
- I have heard that ragi should not be given to a baby who is suffering from loose motions or diarrhoea since it may cause constipation. Is this true?
Yes, the starch present in ragi flour can worsen a child’s condition if he/she is suffering from loose motions or diarrhoea. In such cases, avoid giving your baby ragi porridge.
- Can I give my kid small pieces of ragi (finger millet) dosa as a substitute for rice?
Yes, you can spread a thin layer of dosa batter over the tava/pan/griddle and then sprinkle some cooked ragi flour on it before flipping it over. The ragi flour will not make your dosa taste bad; instead, it will make the dosa crispier and tastier.
- Should I feed my baby with ragi porridge or ragi halwa?
Ragi porridge has a low glycemic index (GI), which helps in keeping sugar levels under control. This is why it is advisable to feed your baby with ragi porridge if he/she has low blood sugar levels or diabetes while feeding him/her with ragi halwa can worsen his/her blood sugar levels.
- Which form of ragi is good for my child – ragi flour, sprouted ragi, ragi malt, or roasted ragi?
All forms of ragi are equally good for your baby. However, the sprouted flour contains high fiber content and is therefore very beneficial for your child’s overall health.
- I am planning to feed my baby with their first meal consisting of solids today. Can I give him/her ragi porridge along with other items?
Your child’s first meal should consist of only one item, which means he/she should be fed with either ragi porridge or rice. Do not give your baby two items for his/her first meal since it might lead to stomachache.
Ragi or finger millet is very beneficial for your baby’s health.
It provides him/her with all the nutrients required for his/her growth and development along with strengthening his/her immune system.
It’s gluten-free and dairy-free so it’s safe for babies who have allergies or intolerances.
Babies will get the benefits of iron from ragi which can help them grow strong and develop properly.
The high fiber content in ragi helps with digestion, relieving constipation and gas. Unlike rice cereal, ragi does not cause allergic reactions that may be caused by other grains like wheat or oats.
In short, all forms of ragi are beneficial for your child but do not overfeed him/her with any type of ragi.
Give Ragi a try for your baby – as it is a good start for your baby’s health journey!