Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Toddler Steps: An Indian's Guide to Toddler Food

TODDLER ALERT!! I have one right now on my feet, trying to chew my clothes. They are such adorable little creatures. Walking around the house like a drunk penguin, smiling and uttering words in alien languages. They just make a working day go by in a breeze, with half the work done, but keeping you doubly tired at that. I sometimes wonder, what the secret behind their energy is. A HEALTHY DIET goes a long way in keeping them active and gaining weight at that. And more so for us in India, where we are blessed with fresh fruits and vegetables, much lesser in price than their tinned varieties.

I am not against the use of tinned products. In fact when you are travelling, these tinned products will actually serve you well. I will write about it below, in details, on what I feel a new mommy should stock up on. But right now, let’s focus on everyday food, which is sans the tinned variety.

In my last post- the introduction of baby food to auntIndie’s Junta- I mentioned about the stage 1 home-made food that I served my little guy here. Stage 2, which followed since his eighth month, saw introduction of all new food groups in his diet. From twice a day solids, he started having three hearty meals, three sessions of breastfeeding and 1 bottle of infant stage 2 formula milk. I know that every child and every mother is different. This article just chronicles my journey of feeding my son. Keep it as a guide, and figure what suits your child better. I believe a mother just understands the need and time to switch meals. There can’t be any rules, specifying it. You just fend it. I did it, and so did many others I know! The nervousness wasn’t there, nor was there a need to scour the net. We just did the needful out of our intuitions, and viola! It worked!!

New Food Groups

After 8 months of age, a very important protein is introduced in the diet for the very first time, Gluten. Don’t try introducing it before 8 months as the small body will not be able to process such complex nutrients fully, and it may lead up to some digestive discomfort. I believe the best way to introduce this is in the form our much under-appreciated daily fare, Whole-wheat Roti/Chapati/Phulka. It’s easy to make and mash, with a bit of dal (lentils), and one vegetable of choice.

At 9 months, introduce cow’s milk in the diet. What I did was to boil the milk and then put a roti and fruit in it. Mash it well and feed the child as a porridge. It’s super tasty and you don’t need to add sweetener too. I am yet to let my little guy drink cow’s milk, as milk. But every day he has a bowl of porridge made with cow’s milk and 2 bowls of homemade curd. This along with a bottle of formula milk, rounds off the calcium requirement of my weaned off toddler. Start slowly, but introduce new things of dairy within 10 months of age. Paneer and cheese should also be a part of weekly intake. If you are vegetarian, use these super sources of protein more often in a week.

At 10 months, I introduced non-veg in his diet. Egg yolk was the first to be introduced, followed by a simple fish and vegetable curry with rice and finally chicken soup or boneless kababs. Egg whites were introduced a bit later, at 11 months around the same time as I introduced chicken.

Now at 13 months, this is how our day is sketched out as, food wise:


My baby has a sweet tooth, a fact well established by his choices and his ancestry, so I make it a point to start his day with something that tastes sweet. He mostly has a fresh porridge made with a cup of milk and some whole grains, like Ragi, Oats or Semolina. I sometimes also give him boiled soft cornflakes, but that’s only at times, not regularly. As sweetener I use either a boiled fruit like sweet pears and apples, or mashed banana or mango. I don’t mix ragi with any fruit, ragi is sweetened with a small dollop of jaggery. And the fruit is served separately to him.


I prefer giving him savoury for this meal. It’s mostly mashed roti with a veggie and lentils or sprouts. Sometimes, as a treat he has a stuffed paneer paratha, made in ghee. All savoury items are followed with a small portion of home-made curd.


This ranges from 2 biscuits to a porridge to a mashed fruit to a portion of mashed sprouts. Whatever feels right, I serve him that. It heavily depends on how long of a nap he has had in the afternoon. If he wakes up late, I give him light snacks, so as to not kill his hunger for dinner. If he woke up early, I give him a more hearty breakfast like porridge.


I almost always give him rice, cooked with a protein and a veggie, for this meal. I have given him fish, egg, chicken and lentils as a protein for this meal; and all seasonal fresh vegetables. Again this is followed with a small bowl of home-made curd.
I have more than enough times here, emphasized on home-made food. For everyday use, I am not a fan of packaged food. It’s much fresher to actually give a child food made with love by a mom or a caretaker. I am not against packaged food at all, and in fact for working new age mom, it’s a whole big blessing. But a blessing that we should make use of in a nicer, easier manner!

Travel diaries and more:
  • When I am going out with the little guy, I like to carry a pack of Cerelac and warm boiled water in a flask. It’s much hygienic and better filled with nutrition than packed up cold khichri in the humid climate of Mumbai. Cerelac has been much vilified by our earlier generations. But tell me, when you are able to give a baby formula milk processed by the same company, then what’s the harm in giving Cerelac? The standards of manufacturing doesn’t change, and I know a lot of mothers who have given Cerelac to their babies daily.
  • Gerber food has started importing to India, and it’s much of a favourite amongst the urban moms of this age. It’s great to taste, and portions are individually packed to make a single meal. Very handy to take around when you are on the move whole day with the baby.
  • When buying cheese, read minutely to notice the word processed. Don’t buy processed cheese for a toddlers’ inexperienced tummy.
  • Aim at 2 to 3 portions of fruits, veggies and calcium throughout the day’s food intake, along with carbs and protein to make a balanced meal.
  • Water consumption should also be monitored, and if you notice yellowish urine, increase it bit by bit!
  • Sausage and red meats can wait for a while now. These meats are not healthy at all, and there is no hurry in introducing them in a toddler’s diet.

Very soon now, I am planning to switch the little guy to our normal food, as we eat at home daily. Spices should not bother a child so much if added in his food since the beginning. Let me know in a comment below how your transition was from baby food to normal food. It’s such a gradual process that hardly kids notice it. But it’s an important process as well, as the kid then understands and appreciates adult tastes much freely. I hate to host kids who refuse to eat anything, saying it’s too spicy for them! And hence I definitely don’t want my kid to fall in this category.


  1. Very well written article Antara... I am loving them to the core....😊😊

    1. hee hee!! thanks shikha!! really encouraging words!! :) :D


We are always eager to hear your take on food, my way!!!


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