baby cereal

When it comes for your baby to start solids, infant cereals are one of the foods you’ll think of. There are a handful of infant cereal options in the grocery stores, but the options are rather limited to rice and oatmeal, and occasionally corn. Rice and oatmeal are the least allergenic and why they are widely used. However, there are many grains you can use for your baby’s cereal, and it is quite easy to do!

Great Grains for Starters

[6 months of age]

  • Rice is the least allergenic grain and is often recommended as baby’s first cereal. Any rice is suitable for baby; brown jasmine rice and plain brown rice make a nice blend for cereals, as do basmati and plain brown rice.
  • Oatmeal is another great starter cereal for baby to start with. It is high in fiber, calcium, protein and even some B vitamins. Old fashioned, steel cut, and rolled oats are all suitable for baby cereal.
  • Barley is fabulous source of fiber, as well as Vitamin A, Folate and even protein. When cooked, barely’s texture is similar to that of rice. Barely most commonly comes in hulled, rolled, and pearled form, and all three are perfect for baby cereal.

Great Grains for Advancing Eaters

[8 months and up]

  • Buckwheat is actually a seed, not a grain; however it is tossed into the whole grain category. It is high in fiber and is a source of iron and folate. It does have a strong flavor, so mixing the buckwheat 50/50 or 25/75 with a milder grain would probably be best for your baby.
  • Kamut is a high protein grain, about 30% more protein than wheat. It has a wonderful sweet and almost buttery flavor.  Its shape looks similar to basmati rice.
  • Millet is rich in B vitamins, potassium, iron, and is even considered a good protein source. It has a bead-like shape and a mild flavor, leaving it open to take on any flavor mixed with. It is gluten free and a great option for grain sensitivities.
  • Quinoa is packed with fiber, iron, and is a great plant source of protein! It has a slightly nutty flavor, but overall is not very strong. It too is gluten free.

Once you have chosen the desired grain to make for your baby’s meal, you’ll need to grind it up to a much finer consistency than its whole form. To grind your cereal grain of choice, you can use a clean coffee/spice grinder, food processor, or blender. Regardless of method, you will want the whole grains ground pretty finely, so the texture is suitable for the toothless eater.

You might be wondering if you can simply add breast milk/formula/water to this grain cereal, like you can to commercial infant cereals, but that is not the case here. Infant cereals you can buy in the grocery store have been precooked and dehydrated, leaving you the simple task of rehydrating the grain cereal. Since there is no prior cooking these grains you’re working with, will you need to cook the grain cereal before feeding it to your little one.

It is easier to grind up the grains prior to cooking, but there is no reason you can’t cook the grain first and then blend afterwards; whichever you find best. The general rule of thumb for cooking these ground grains is 1/4 cup ground cereal to  1-2 cups water. If you err on the side of  1 cup of water, you can always thin out the cooked cereal afterwards with breast milk or more water.

The steps for cooking the cereal are easy:

  1. Bring 1 cup of water to boil
  2. Add in the ¼ c of ground grain
  3. WHISK WHISK WHISK
  4. Cool and serve, or store in refrigerator.

When cooking any ground grain “powder” for homemade baby cereal, the key is to whisk continually as you are cooking to avoid clumping.

Any milled whole grain should be stored in an air tight container, and preferably in your refrigerator. You can store them in a cool dry place, just be sure to check on the status of the grains if you use them infrequently. You can also freeze precooked cereals the same way you would fruit and vegetable purees.

As your baby grows and their palette is expanding, mixing in some fruit and vegetable purees is a fun way to introduce new flavors and keep your baby’s diet full of variety. You can also add a hint of cinnamon and/or vanilla to your baby’s infant cereal, and oh my is it tasty!

How did your experience with making your own infant cereal go? We’d love to know any tips you’ve got!

 

Written By: Anna Cayot

Sources:

Wholesomebabyfood.com (2012). Cereal. Retrieved from:

http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/cereal.htm

Wholesomebabyfood.com (2011). Grains for baby foods. Retrieved from: http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/grains-for-baby-food.htm#.U0SZ6_ldUuf

Photo credits: 1st photo- Becky @ thevintagemixer.com; 2nd photo- Susan B @ bloatarecall.blogspot.com cover http://www.popsugar.com/moms/photo-gallery/28209298/image/28209305/First-Foods