Learn how to cook the perfect oatmeal for baby. It's easy, fast, and loaded with vegetables! Serve as is or as a finger food, baby led weaning style!
Perhaps you saw "baby oatmeal" and were expecting to see purees or something with a smoother consistency. As a big proponent of starting with table foods, I hope this post encourages you to give these thicker oatmeals a try!
Oatmeal for Babies
This nutritious whole grain can be offered to babies as soon as they’re ready to start solids, usually around 6 months. It’s important to remember that your baby is unique and that rather than going by the calendar, you need to make sure your baby is DEVELOPMENTALLY ready to start solids.
If you’re unsure what signs to look for, be sure to grab my FREE handout!
Oatmeal is a wonderful first food as it is easy to digest and loaded with so many nutrients that babies need to grow and thrive, including iron, zinc, fiber, and calcium.
Variety is the name of the game when it comes to increasing food acceptance and minimizing picky eating down the road. And oatmeal is SO versatile! You can mix in eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, yogurt, cheese...endless possibilities!
Also check out: Best First Foods for Babies
Different Types of Oatmeal
Head on over to my Instagram @kidfriendly.meals for more infographics like this!
You don't need to purchase a separate baby oat cereal. They are basically ground oats, which is easy to make at home with the oats you already have on hand.
You also don't have to start with serving only baby cereal or smooth purees, unless that's what you feel most comfortable doing.
I just want to reassure you that your baby can handle soft table foods once they are developmentally ready to start solids.
For these oatmeals, I recommend using either quick cooking or old-fashioned rolled oats. I prefer the latter as they’re the most versatile and have the perfect texture, not too mushy or firm.
Basic ingredients you'll need
Oats - I recommend using either quick cooking (instant oats)or old-fashioned oats (rolled oats). I prefer the latter as they’re the most versatile and have the perfect texture, not too mushy or firm.
If using instant oats, here's how you can adjust the cooking time.
Steel-cut oats are quite chewy in texture so they're best to serve to older babies (10+ months).
Milk - can use breastmilk, formula, cow's milk, or non-dairy alternatives. I especially love full-fat coconut milk for these oatmeals as it adds incredible flavor.
Here’s a super in-depth post covering the best milk for toddlers.
Chia seeds - here are the health benefits for babies.
Egg - It not only makes the oatmeal creamy and fluffy, it will also provide your baby with iron and protein! Be sure to whisk it really well before mixing it in with other ingredients. You can leave it out if there's an allergy.
- Vegetables - feel free to add in whatever you have on hand!
- Peanut butter or nut/seed butter if there's an allergy
- Fruits - mashed banana, fruit puree, unsweetened applesauce, etc.
Spices - Such an easy way to expose your baby to more FLAVOR!!
How to Cook Oatmeal for babies (2 ways)
I'm using the sweet potato variation (recipe below) to show how to cook it two ways:
On the Stove:
- Heat milk and cook oats over medium heat.
- Add oats and cook over medium heat.
- Add in whisked egg, stirring vigorously, until light and fluffy.
- Add in the extra ingredients (I've included suggestions below but feel free to add whatever you wish! Pictured: sweet potatoes). Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let it sit for another 3 minutes or so until fluffy. Thin out with additional liquid as needed.
If you're like me with little ones who demand all my attention as soon as they wake up, This super easy and quick method is the way to go!
- Add all the ingredients.
- Give it a good stir.
- Microwave for 90 seconds. Stir. Microwave for 30-45 more seconds.
Here are some more tips on how to make them perfectly along with four additional recipes to try on top of these veggie-loaded ones.
Cooking oatmeal with breastmilk
Heat does affect the quality and nutrient profile of breast milk. Research shows that it can break down various enzymes that aid in digestion and boost the immune system.
However, breast milk sill provides incredible nutritional value. So if you have extra milk, you can certainly use it to cook with. But if you're able to stir it into food once it's cooked and cooled, it's even better.
Tips for success
- Normally, the oatmeal to liquid ratio is 1:2, which you can use if you desire a looser consistency. However, if you want to shape into porridge fingers or balls, I recommend following the recipe as is. You can always add more liquid at the end to achieve desired consistency.
- For both cooking methods, be sure to whisk the egg prior to adding it in.
- If cooking on the stove, be sure to mix in the egg VIGOROUSLY. Otherwise it will cook unevenly and you'll end up with scrambled eggs. Not the end of the world, but just something to be aware of.
- Refrigerating oatmeal for at least 30 minutes will make it easier to shape into fingers or balls.
Frequently Asked Questions
Once you try making oatmeal at home, I have a feeling you will never look back. It’s super simple to make and much cheaper.
Packaged cereals are oftentimes fortified with iron, which does give them a leg up, but you can easily add toppings to the homemade version, as you see here, to make sure your baby gets that essential nutrient.
But of course, when we’re sleep deprived and spread so thin, taking shortcuts may just be what the doctor ordered. And that’s totally fine! Remember to always take care of YOU!
First, you don’t have to start with rice cereal. And if your pediatrician tells you that you absolutely need to, it is outdated advice.
Oats are going to be the better choice than rice as they contain a much smaller amount of heavy metals. This is not to say that you shouldn't offer rice to your baby ever, but you want to make sure to incorporate variety and avoid serving it every day.
While milk shouldn't be given as a drink until around 12 months of age, it is fine to add to recipes. Dairy is one of the top most common allergens, so take caution when introducing it for the very first time.
I never like to provide specific numbers as every baby is different and it's so important to follow their lead. Start with a small amount so that it's not too overwhelming for your baby, and offer more if they seem interested!
Transfer to an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.
When ready to eat, microwave or take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. It will firm up so you can stir in water or milk (a great time to add breastmilk/formula) to thin it out a bit.
You can absolutely prepare oatmeal for your baby the same way you would for yourself, so don't hold back ;). You just have to be mindful of modifying the size and texture of add-ins according to your child's eating skills.
6-8 Months old
If you are starting solids and introducing oatmeal for the very first time. Keep it pretty simple with just a couple of toppings of choice. Leave out the egg until you've tested separately for any allergic reactions as it is one of the top 9 common allergens.
If you’re desiring a more pudding-like consistency, make oatmeal the way you’d eat it and then simply blend. Voila! Oat porridge.
Offer a spoon (these are THE best for this age) but chances are your baby will just dive in with their hands and that's ok! Resist the urge to interfere and continuously wipe them. Messy eating is an important part of learning to self-feed.
Alternatively, you can shape into balls or fingers to make the oatmeal easier to eat.
Be sure to pair with a source of vitamin C to baby oatmeal to help absorb the iron in oats.
9+ months old
Continue offering the spoon without any expectation that your baby will use it. With continuous exposure and opportunities to practice, things will start to click!
Start experimenting with more toppings and textures. Again, variety is the name of the game!
4 Oatmeal Variations to try!
1. Sweet Potato
You can use any variety of sweet potatoes - jewel, garnet, Japanese sweet potatoes.... My son's favorite food when he was a baby was purple sweet potatoes so they definitely have a special place in my heart. Compared to the orange ones, they are starchier but not as sweet.
I highly recommend you to give them a try! Isn't the color so gorgeous?! Simply cook and mash with a fork before combining with the rest of the ingredients.
You can also use butternut squash or pumpkin puree.
2. Zucchini and bell pepper
You truly can use whatever vegetables you have on hand for this one! You can add finely chopped cooked or finely grated raw vegetables.
3. Tahini broccoli
Broccoli + lemon + tahini. Remember this combination!! SOO good!
Beets + spinach + ricotta + curry powder + coconut milk. Yup. It's as good as it sounds!
Other baby-friendly oat recipes
- Peanut butter banana oatmeal
- Overnight oats
- Spinach Baby Pancakes
- savory baked oatmeal with vegetables
- 3 ingredient banana cookies
- Baby Muffins
- Carrot cake oatmeal smoothie bowl
Did you make this recipe? Leave a rating below and let me know how you liked the recipe! Your feedback means so much to me!
Homemade Baby Oatmeal
- ½ cup (50g) rolled oats
- ⅔ cups milk of choice (e.g. breastmilk/formula, full-fat coconut milk)
- 1 medium egg, well whisked (can leave out if there's an allergy)
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds (or flax or hemp seeds) , optional but highly recommended
On the stove
- Heat milk on the stove and once it simmers, pour the oats in. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add in whisked egg, stirring vigorously, until light and fluffy (about 1-2 minutes) - see note.
- Add in the extra ingredients as suggested in the recipes below (or whatever you desire). Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let it sit for another 3 minutes or so until fluffy. Thin out with additional liquid as needed.
In the microwave
- In a microwave-safe bowl or mug, mix all the base ingredients WITH the additional add-ins (minus the stir-ins) as listed below. See notes.
- Microwave on high for 1 ½ min, stir, and microwave for another 30-45 seconds, until desired consistency is achieved.
- Once cooked, add the stir-ins. Thin out with additional liquid as needed. Wait until completely cooled before serving to baby.
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- 1-2 tablespoons shredded cheese (can omit, add less or more)
- Stir-ins: cooked zucchini and bell pepper, finely chopped
- ⅓ cup mashed sweet potato
- ½ teaspoons cumin
- Stir-ins: fresh parsley, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- Stir-ins: cooked broccoli, chopped; more tahini, if desired
- If you’re desiring a more pudding-like consistency, add to blender and blend until smooth.
- If cooking on the stove, be sure to stir the oatmeal constantly when adding egg. Otherwise it will cook up unevenly and you'll end up with scrambled eggs.
- Offer a spoon but chances are your baby will just dive in with their hands and that's ok!
- Alternatively, you can shape into balls or fingers to make the oatmeal easier to eat. If you happen to plan ahead, refrigerate for 30 minutes or so after shaping. This will make the balls firmer.
- Be sure to pair with a source of vitamin C to baby oatmeal to help absorb the iron in oats.
- You can store any untouched leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.