Baby Cereal 101

I had posted a picture on my personal IG account a while ago and got a lot of questions and comments about the homemade cereal that I made for baby Z so I decided that I would write a quick post on it.  Now, the reason I put a strikethrough on ‘quick’ is because I do have a tendency to ramble on … 😐 but that’s only because I want to make sure that you are getting all of the information and that I’m able to answer any questions that you may have.

So let’s get started!

When baby Z was first ready to start solids around 4 1/2 months (recommended by my doctor) I was really nervous as to where to begin.  What to give him?  Rice?  Oats?  Barley?  Premade?  Homemade? … so many questions and I didn’t know what the best choice would be for him.  I knew that as someone who is always striving to cook our meals from scratch and taking very little help from ‘pre-packaged’ foods that making Z’s food myself was very important to me.  I already was putting in the effort and making all of mine and my husbands food from start to finish so why wouldn’t I put in the extra effort for the little guy?

So I started to do my research.  I wanted to know what would be the best choice and how would I be able to go about it.  One thing that I found while scouring the internet was that “rice” cereal may not always be the best choice because it’s low in protein, high in carbohydrates and doesn’t contain a lot of nutrition – it’s more of a ‘filler’ food than anything else.  Alternative choices that I found were oat or barley cereals which contained more nutrition and were are higher in iron – so I finally made that choice and I opted for oatmeal.

To make the cereal it is very simple.  I just went to my local grocery store and bought a bag of organic old fashion oats (make sure you don’t grab ‘quick oats’, you want the whole grains).  I start off by measuring out 2 cups of the oats and put them in my blender to grind until it is a fine powder.

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And that’s it! It literally takes me under a minute to make the cereal powder.  To store the cereal, I put it in a glass container and keep it in the pantry.

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To make the cereal I simply bring 2 cups of water to a boil and then add 2 tablespoons of the cereal mixture.

oatmeal (7) oatmeal (8) oatmeal (9)I then turn the heat down to medium-low and whisk the cereal until it is combined and creamy.  This usually takes anywhere from 2-4 minutes.

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I continue to whisk until there aren’t anymore lumps, I turn the heat down to low and let the cereal cook for another 5-6 minutes.  You want to make sure that the cereal cooks through and that you’re not feeding your baby raw oats.  Make sure to stir the cereal periodically to prevent it from burning.

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Once that it is done, I let the cereal cool and then put it in a food storage container to keep in the fridge.  One batch lasts me 3 days.  In the morning I scoop out a few tablespoons and mix it with some pureed fruit and breast milk and we’re good to go!

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Not only is this nutritious but it also tastes really good.  I sometimes even add some cinnamon to his cereal to give a little “oomph” to his food.  Another reason I decided to make my own baby cereal is because it is significantly cheaper.  For example, a pouch that contains 227g of ‘organic’ baby cereal usually retails for around $4.98 CAD.  Whereas you can get a 453g bag of ‘organic’ old fashion oats for only $3.50 CAD!  Talk about cost savings in the long run.  A bag of oats will usually last me more than a month and I feel good knowing the quality of the ingredients that I’m giving Z.

Now, on the flip side, I do have to say that the one “benefit” to premade cereals (even rice) is that they are iron fortified unlike your homemade cereals.  Up until 6 months of age, babies get all of their necessary vitamins, nutrients and iron from milk (breast or formula).  After 6 months, their iron levels begin to deplete and that is why it is recommended that babies be given foods that are high in iron.  In baby Z’s case, I chose to make his own cereal but then supplement his diet with iron rich foods throughout the day such as: beef, chicken, sweet potato, barley, beans and lentils.

Instilling healthy eating habits at a young age is crucial, especially when we live in a society where the majority of our foods been stripped away of essential vitamins and has been replaced with additives such as dicalcium phosphate and ascorbic acid 😐 … translation stuff added to our food so that it won’t break down or spoil and can outlast you if need be.

Whatever choice that you make, always consult your paediatrician to see what is best for your baby.  If you enjoyed this post, please leave me a comment below and also click here if you haven’t checked out my Pear Puree recipe that I make to mix in with the cereal.

Until next time!

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