Baby's first TCM snack

By Floor Tuinstra

Baby's first TCM snack

What do you give your baby for the first bite of food?

Do you already know what kind of snack you are going to give your baby when you introduce solid food for the first time? Did you know that the first bite is a critical point? It determines the health of your child for the next few years.
At exactly 18 weeks (4.5 months) my son had his first few bites of food.
He loved it and went down it like a sweet cake and with a big smile. It is not only delicious for babies, but also nutritious and the most neutral base you can give to a child.
It has contributed to the fact that from the age of 4 months he is already one of the best eaters you can imagine. You can read below what exactly I gave him, how often, how long, why, how much and that it is not a standard western Dutch dish.


Introducing solid foods to a baby according to traditional Chinese medicine

Very young babies need nothing other than breastfeeding and perhaps a small addition of some warm water. But between 4 and 6 months, the baby will start grabbing food on the parent's plate. When the baby starts to pick up food on his or her own and put it in his or her mouth, then it is time to introduce solid food. This is a critical point in the baby's development. How this is dealt with will determine the child's health for the next few years. The mistake many Western parents make is introducing solid foods too early, introducing too many different foods too quickly, and introducing the wrong foods at the wrong time. If food is introduced before the baby's digestive system is ready to process it, this will result in something not being properly metabolized by the body and causing food stagnation, fluid and mucus production in the body. That is why it is very important to pick up the baby's signals yourself.
Isn't that normal to have a runny nose? All children have them, right?
That tasty wad of mucus that hangs from the nose of many toddlers and babies means that there is something that your child is not digesting properly or that he is ingesting too much of it. A glob of mucus from the nose is not the norm, as many mothers think. The same applies to mucus in the stool.

What and when to introduce solid food to babies

A baby's first food outside of breastfeeding should be congee (rice or millet). Congee is also called Shi Fan, rice soup or rice porridge. You cannot compare it with a regular rice porridge because it has been left to stand for a very long time.
A baby is just new to the world and all there is, a baby's taste is still completely open. Therefore, a baby's diet does not need to be as varied as an adult's. This is good because it is important to introduce one food at a time and continue for a while before moving on to another food.
By introducing one food at a time for a longer period of time you can see whether the baby can digest the food well.
If the baby's digestive system is not yet mature and strong enough to digest it without side effects, then there will be a sign that it has not been digested properly, such as vomiting, colic, gas, constipation or diarrhea.

What can you introduce after the rice or millet?

After white rice or millet, various cooked vegetables can be introduced. The first vegetable you might think of is boiled, chopped carrots. Then crushed potato. Then crushed beans or peas. Most cooked vegetables are a little sweet. They are not greasy and do not contain too many difficult to digest proteins. Animal proteins such as cheese, wheat and corn are better introduced later when the digestive system is more mature and stronger.

What does TCM say about congee for babies?

In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) it is said that Congee produces Qi, blood and body fluids while at the same time strengthening the Spleen (master of digestion), harmonizing the Stomach and allowing excess fluid to seep out.

How much congee (rice soup) does a baby get in the beginning?

The amount consisted of about 8 bites (8 teaspoons). That's not a large amount. You can roughly compare it to mini glass jam jars that are sometimes served in hotels for breakfast.
They can be given 5-10 snacks from around 4 months to get used to the taste of food. They can eat this every day for a week.
Congee is safe because it has been left to stand for 6 hours.

Ingredients for baby's first TCM snack, baby congee

Rice or millet (if you choose rice, preferably basmati rice and preferably organic).

How do you prepare congee as a baby's first snack?

You take 1 part of rice or millet, wash it well in a sieve until the water becomes less cloudy.
Then you put it in a pan or slow cooker and add 6 parts water.
We invested in a slow cooker ourselves, because it is very handy. You turn it on the slow cook function, low, duration 6 hours and after 6 hours you have congee.

What is also possible is 6.5/6:45 hours with 7 cups of water
6 hours can be just short of time if there is still some water on top

In the meantime, you can do some shopping or go to work because it has a keep-warm function. Make sure you have a slow cooker without a Teflon layer but with a ceramic bowl. If you want more information about this, it is best to watch the film 'Dark Waters' or the documentary 'The devil we know'.
It's a different story on the stove and induction. You have to stick with that.
You let the congee simmer on low heat/induction for 6 hours, stirring occasionally.
When it is ready, it is best to turn off the gas or your induction and let it cool down. Then you have the greatest chance of less sticking to the pan.
You can store it in the refrigerator for up to a week in a glass or stainless steel container.

My son is now 3, he always eats a big breakfast (for example a hot meal from the day before or porridge with a boiled egg) and at daycare he often asks for an extra portion 2 or 3 times. If he sometimes doesn't want to eat, we know something is wrong.