Kids grow up so fast. One minute they are all squirmy and snugly, nursing a bottle of milk, the next moment they are off to McDonald's, ordering fast food. This may seem like a very speedy jump but a part of a child's growth is the transition from liquid foods to solid foods. It's not only a question of nutrition, changing foods also means a child soon learns how to feed itself. The in-between food item involved in this culinary transition is baby cereal.
While there are many brands available in the market, making homemade cereals is a quick and convenient way to ensure your baby is fed wholesome nutritious food, which you know is good for him/her, since you made it. Before learning how to make baby cereal, there are some points of caution to keep in mind:
- Cereal is semisolid to solid food. Infants traditionally make the transition from liquids to semisolids around 4-6 months. But do not assume your child is ready for solid foods, consult your pediatrician prior to feeding your child.
- Your baby will show physical signs that he/she can eat solid foods like sitting up straight, being able to reach and hold items, and starts looking at you when you eat food and tries to mimic your actions. But if he/she keeps pushing the food out of its mouth, if fed, then it's not the right time for solid foods.
- A baby slowly adjusts from milk to semisolid foods to solid foods. So supplement the cereal with breast milk or formula for a while. Initially, your baby will not eat much cereal until he/she gets used to it. And while introducing cereal foods, do not try different recipes everyday. Wait for 5 days to try a new recipe.
- Your child may be allergic to certain foods, especially if your family has a genetic history of food allergies. So watch what foods are used to make the cereal. Start out with rice and oats, as children are rarely allergic to such foods. Consult your pediatrician, as to possible allergies and what to do in the event of an allergy attack.
- Brown rice is a very nutritious and simple choice for a first-cereal recipe to feed your infant. Make sure the rice is whole grain. Store any whole grains, be it rice or oats or barley in an airtight container in a cool, dry location.
- Do not use any "instant" or "quick cook" cereals in any baby food recipe. Such grains are processed and preserved and are not recommended as a young child's first food.
- Do not serve baby cereal in a bottle but instead feed your child with a spoon and bowl. Such a feeding ritual is a very important step in your baby's development.
Baby Cereal Recipes
Rice Powder Cereal
You will need
- 8 fl oz (1 cup) water
- ¼ cup brown/white rice powder (grind rice in blender)
- Milk formula or breast milk
- Boil the water.
- When the water boils, gradually add the rice powder.
- Stir as you add the rice.
- Leave the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add formula/breast milk to thicken the cereal as needed.
Whole Rice Cereal
You will need
- ½ cup whole grain rice (brown/white)
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup breast milk/formula
- Boil water and add rice when the water boils.
- Stirring occasionally, leave rice to simmer for 20 minutes or as per cooking instructions on the packet.
- When rice is cooked, leave it to cool slightly and add to it, the ½ cup of formula/breast milk.
- Add enough to make a not-too-thick or thin puree.
Whole Oat Cereal
You will need
- ¼ cup whole grain oats (no quick-mix or easy-to-make oats)
- 1¼ cup water
- Formula/breast milk
- Using a blender, grind oats for 1-2 minutes, such that they turn into powder or flour.
- In a pan, mix the water and oats. Bring the mixture to boil, then leave it to simmer for 10 minutes.
- Let the mixture cook and stir it frequently to prevent it from sticking.
- Remove the pan from heat and leave it to cool.
- You must add formula or breast milk to the oats, to form a smooth puree.
- Similarly, you can cook quinoa or millet grains to make baby cereal but try to use the natural form of the grains and blend them to make a powder to use.
You will need
- ¼ cup (2 oz) ground barley (grind grain in a blender or food processor)
- 12 fl oz (1½ cup) water
- Bring the water to boil in a saucepan.
- Gradually stir in the barley powder.
- Bring the mixture to boil, then reduce it to simmer.
- Leave it to simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- You can add breast milk or formula to add to the thickness.
Banana and Oats Cereal
You will need
- ¼ cup dry oatmeal cereal
- ¾ cup breast milk
- 1/3 cup bananas, mashed
- In a saucepan, mix oatmeal and ½ cup of breast milk.
- Bring the mixture to boil and reduce the heat for 5 minutes, letting it to simmer.
- Stir once in a while, to prevent the oatmeal from sticking.
- In a bowl, mix the banana and ¼ cup of breast milk.
- Add the oatmeal mix to the banana mix and stir well to form the cereal.
The shelf life of baby cereal made at home is between 48-72 hours, when stored in a refrigerator. The cereal may become thick or thin in consistency, so add more breast milk or formula if needed. Cereal can be frozen and then recooked and used. Its taste may vary, so try freezing a few portions to see whether your baby likes it or not. In summation, making your own cereal for your bundle of joy, is just one step in looking after your kid, so enjoy it while you can.