If you have decided to take a trip with your little one, woohoo! It’s a gateway to creating many enjoyable memories with them. We have discussed in detail about eating out with your baby and traveling dos and don’ts in the last two articles. Today, we will dive straight into our recommended list of travel-friendly foods for your baby!
Eggs are a powerhouse of nutrients that babies need for their growth and development (refer to our detailed article here). When you’re traveling, you can carry hard boiled eggs without peeling them and then peel them when you’re ready to serve.
This is a hassle-free and easy option. You can pump milk and carry it if you're breastfeeding or carry the formula that your baby is used to drinking. If you run out of it, ready baby formula is available in most places.
Handheld soft fruits or fruit purees/mash will offer the essential nutrients to your baby. They are also easy to prepare and less messy to feed/serve. Carry a spoon and necessary cutlery if you’re serving purees or letting your baby self-feed.
Fruits like apple, pear, pumpkin can be steamed and cooled at home and packed in a container. They don’t spoil that fast. Bananas too are a great “peel and eat” travel food for both adults and babies!
Even ripe, soft fruits can be carried or purchased. Buy whole fruits and not pre-cut varieties. You can wash, peel, and cut them at the time of the meal. Fruits like mangoes, papaya, and chikoo are good examples.
Always carry a fork from home to mash fruits.
Veggies can be prepared and packed in a variety of ways. Try handheld wedges, steamed, or roasted. Steamed or boiled cauliflower, broccoli, carrot, French beans, sweet potato, and potato make excellent travel foods for babies. Cut them appropriately or mash them with a fork.
5) Boiled chickpeas or kidney beans
Boil and cook rajma or chole without salt and carry them with you (drained without the water). Since whole rajma/chana can be a choking hazard, you can mash them with a fork or your fingers before giving it to your baby. This is a great travel food as they are very nutritious and filling.
6) Green peas
Boil raw peas without salt and carry them with you like rajma or chole. Again, mash them or flatten them before serving your baby (whole peas are a choking hazard).
Frozen green peas can be carried as they are without cooking. Carry some frozen green peas in a box. By the time you reach your destination, the peas would be thawed and can be mashed and offered to your baby.
If you’re making idlis at home, you can enhance the nutrition and taste by adding some veggies like spinach, carrot, or beetroot into the batter. Idlis are a no-mess option for traveling.
Idlis are also available fresh at hotels/restaurants in most parts of India. Since they’re steamed, they’re cooked and safe for babies.
8) Yogurt or curd
Rich in calcium and probiotics, curd is a good option for many reasons. You can buy unflavored curd/yogurt in most parts of the country. Single-serve packs are easy to carry and dispose of.
But curd needs temperature control, so if you’re carrying it from home, you will have to put it in an ice pack. Or you can buy it at your destination. Opt for known brands that you have used back home.
9) Paneer or tofu strips
Both are great sources of protein. Paneer (cottage cheese)has calcium and tofu has iron, so they are nutritious travel foods if your baby handles them well at home. While pan-frying handheld strips of paneer or tofu, you can add light spices like turmeric or cumin powder. Cool it and pack it for your trip.
A good source of protein, you can carry soft cheese or shredded cheese like Mozzarella. Avoid carrying cream cheese or processed cheese (slices or cubes), as they can be a choking hazard and are very high in sodium.
11) Thepla or paratha
Parathas or theplas are a good option too so long as your baby has eaten them before. Cut them into the appropriate size and offer them to your baby while traveling. Parathas too need to be temperature controlled, so consider how you pack them (with foil and ice pack).
12) Tikkis or cutlets
You can make cutlets healthy for babies by using cooked rajma (kidney beans) or chole (chickpeas) along with boiled potato and other veggies. Use oats or poha as a binder instead of refined flour (maida). Shape the tikkis into log shapes, pan-fry them lightly, cool them, and pack them up. Babies can hold them in their hand and eat them
Make pancakes at home (opt for maida-free batter if you’re buying ready made or make it at home using millet or oat flour). Pack them well (temperature control may be needed depending on when you made it and when you’re serving it) and cut them into appropriate sizes when it’s time for your baby to eat. It’s mess-free again.
14) Homemade muffins or banana breads
Muffins or breads are a soft and dry food that travels well and creates less of a mess. These can be made at home before your trip. Make them without sugar or any sweetener; use bananas or dates to sweeten them naturally. You can also opt for gluten-free flour like oat flour to bake these if you like.
15) Cooked pasta or noodles
Opt for millet- or lentil-based pasta and noodles that are free from maida (refined flour). Boil or cook them at home, add some oil if you like to the drained pasta/noodles, and carry them once cooled. With cooked noodles, make sure to cut them into age-appropriate pieces.
Feel free to add some light seasoning. This is a mess-free and sauce-free version of pasta and noodles that makes them travel friendly.
16) Instant upma or poha
There’s an easy way to make this at home as opposed to the store-bought ones which may contain high sodium! At home, dehydrate some veggies in the microwave, mix them with roasted sooji or rava (semolina), add a bit of oil, and pack this in a container and carry it with you.
At mealtime, simply add some hot water to the dry mix, let it sit for a bit, mix well, and serve it.
17) Instant khichdi
You can make this at home. Dry roast rice and dal and then powder them. Carry this powder in an airtight container. At mealtime on the go, put some warm water in this premix, mix well, and serve it.
Porridge or khichdi premixes are a good way to carry fewer items from home and are also less messy. There are a variety of premixes readily available like sattu, ragi, millets, etc.
When you’re buying baby premixes, read the label and choose something that’s low in sugar and sodium. Most premix powders need to be mixed with some warm water and can be served to your baby. You can carry a hot water thermos from home to make the premix.
Ready-to-eat cereals like ragi puffs are also a good option. While they may not have high nutritional value, they are a good travel-friendly food. You can add breast milk or regular milk to a bowl of cereal before offering your baby. Again, ensure the baby is sitting in one place during feeding.
Remember your travel/trip is temporary, so don’t worry too much about the nutrition your baby is getting in each meal or if your baby does not eat much solid food in transit. This is normal. You can ensure they get their nutrition when they’re home.
20) Roasted makhana or jowar puffs
This is a dry, no-mess snack for travel. But don’t serve these whole as they are a choking hazard. You can cut them in quarters before serving your baby who should be sitting in one place while eating these. Don’t give them if your baby is moving or the vehicle you’re in is moving.
Some Tips for Preparing & Packing Travel Foods
- Pack small portions: This way, the food will stay fresh and it is easier to feed your baby. Your baby will anyway eat very less on the move. Plus, once a packed food item is opened and is half-eaten, it most likely goes bad if you keep it without refrigeration.
- Carry baby essentials: Carry bibs, feeding towels, burp cloths, wipes, baby spoons/plates if needed, anything you may need for a positive feeding environment no matter where you are.
- Remember allergies and intolerance: If you haven’t given a particular allergenic food to your baby yet, do not introduce it during a trip or while eating outside your home. Wait till you’re home to expose them gradually.