Shabeezah, a traditional source of nutrition for infants [Archives:2008/1172/Health]

July 14 2008

Almigdad Mojalli
Despite the numerous kinds of baby food that fill store aisles and that are known to have nutritional value, some Yemenis still prefer to feed their children shabeezah, a traditional infant meal that may be even better for their children. Shabeezah is a made up of different kinds of grains like white corn, red corn, wheat, barley and sometimes even lentils. The flour is then mixed with water and a little salt or sugar to make it palatable for the infant and to entice it to accept the porridge.

Shabeezah is usually given to the infant at when it is around six months old and when parents want to teach it to eat whole foods and gradually wean it off of breast milk or formula. Shabeezah provides the infant with the same level of nutrition and also helps the infant to learn how to eat solids. Shabeezah is often a more accessible source of nutrition for poor families who are unable to afford the high price of powdered milk or baby formula.

Some mothers prefer shabeezah to artificial milk as shabeezah is natural and free from preservative substances. “In my opinion, shabeezah is much better that artificial substances as it consists of many natural grains and it is offered to the infant fresh. I always depend on shabeezah to feed my infants more than artificial milk,” said Eman Ahmed, 42, a mother of four children.”Shabeezah has high nutritional value and is considered the best food for the infant particularly after weaning as it contains vitamins, proteins, and little fat,” said Dr. Adel Al-Samie, a pediatrician in the Ministry of Health and Population. “It is better than the artificial milk, though they have different nutritional values,” he added.

Dr. Abdulrahman Ishaq, also a pediatrician, stated that shabeezah is an agricultural source of infant nutrition while artificial milk is an animal source. For this reason, each one has different nutritional values.