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Baby’s First Cereal {From Scratch}

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Making your own baby cereal costs a fraction of what you can buy it for and takes just minutes! Learn how with our simple tutorial!

homemade baby food cereal from scratch in a yellow bowl with pink spoon and baby toys in the background

What is the Best Baby Cereal to Start With?

For years, the recommendation was that you start with plain white rice cereal. There has been recent evidence against rice cereal, and now the experts recommend that you simply feed your baby food that’s easy to digest and contains good amounts of iron. A single-grain cereal is a good choice to start with.

What grains are best for making baby cereal?

There are so many highly nutritious grains that are a great choice for making baby cereal from scratch.

  • Rice is typically the least allergenic grain and is easy to digest. Organic brown, jasmine rice and basmati are great.
  • Oats are a great starter grain for babies. It is high in fiber, calcium, protein and even some B vitamins. Old fashioned, steel cut, and rolled oats all work well for making baby cereal.
  • Barley is a good source of fiber, as well as Vitamin A, Folate and even protein. When cooked, barley’s texture is similar oats. Barely most commonly comes in hulled, rolled, and pearled form, and all three are perfect for baby cereal.
  • Kamut is a high protein grain, about 30% more protein than wheat. It has a 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 looks like a tiny round ball and has a mild flavor making it a great option to us for mixing other flavors 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, and is gluten free. It has a slightly nutty flavor, but overall is not very strong. Make sure you rinse your quinoa well.
overhead view of homemade baby cereal from scratch with banana slices on top and other baby food in the background

How Do I Make My Own Baby Cereal?

Here is how…….(you won’t believe how easy it is)

You take your uncooked grain, place it in a high powered blender, and pulse until it has a fine texture.  That is it!! Really it is that simple.  Making your own will cost you pennies, provides your baby with whole grain nutrients and is super fast and easy to make.

To Cook:

1/2 cup milled grain + 4 cups water

Add together to a pot and bring to a boil.  Then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  If it is too thick, add a little more water.  This will make a lot!  You can store the leftovers as individual portions and then freeze for later.  I like to use  silicone trays because it is super easy to pop an individual portion out. I love the the NUK Silicone Tray because I love the size of the cups. They are a really good portion size, and I love that it has a lid to cover the entire tray instead of individual lids.

overlay view of homemade baby cereal from scratch in a blue bowl

I personally think that plain whole grain cereal is kind of bland, and so I usually mix it with some kind of fruit or vegetable.  To make your own fruit and vegetable baby food, check out our post here.

When Can I Start Giving My Baby Cereal?

Most babies are ready to start solids between 4 and 6 months (and experts recommend waiting until closer to 6 months in many cases) Your baby’s individual development is really what you should go by when deciding whether or not it’s time to start solid food.

These are some of the signs that your baby is developmentally ready for solid food:

  • Your baby can hold her head up well when propped to sit. Even strained baby foods should not be offered until then. Chunkier foods should wait until a baby can sit well alone, usually not until 7 months.
  • The tongue thrust reflex has disappeared. Try this test: Place a tiny bit of baby-appropriate food thinned with breast milk or formula in your baby’s mouth from the tip of a baby spoon or your finger. If the food comes right back out again with that tiny tongue, and continues to after several tries, the thrust is still present and baby isn’t ready for spoon-feeding.
  • Your baby reaches for and otherwise shows an interest in table foods. If she’s grabbing the fork out of your hand or watching intently and excitedly with every bite you take, that may be a sign that she’s hungry for more real food.
  • Your baby is able to make back-and-forth and up-and-down movements with the tongue. How can you tell? Just watch carefully.
homemade baby cereal from scratch in a pink bowl with a bunny stuffed animal in the background
overlay view of homemade baby cereal from scratch in a blue bowl

Baby’s First Cereal {From Scratch}

Making your own baby cereal from scratch costs a fraction of what you can buy it for and takes just minutes! Learn how with our simple tutorial!
3.86 from 35 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: baby food, cereal, homemade
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Author: Natalie Monson

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup grain, milled
  • 4 cups water

Instructions

  • Combine ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.
  • Then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and let cool before feeding to your baby. You can mix this cereal with a small amount of breast milk or formula when feeding.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container. Will stay good in the fridge up to 5 days.

Notes

If it is too thick, add a little more water. This will make a lot! You can store the leftovers as individual portions and then freeze for later for up to 3 months. 
Tried this recipe?Mention @SuperHealthyKids or tag #SuperHealthyKids!

 

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31 Comments

What about iron fortification? The cereals up in Canada are all fortified with Iron and that is usually what is recommended by our physicians when first starting the babies on solid food.

This is a condensed version of our thoughts about iron: Babies are born with a reserve of iron, which comes from their mother’s blood while they are in the womb.
For the first 6 months of life, breastfed babies will get what they need from their mother’s milk. After that they will need iron from other sources which is one of the reasons why they say to start feeding babies at 6 months.
Homemade baby cereal definitely does not have as much iron as the commercially made fortified cereals. Homemade will have about 1 mg of iron for every 4 Tbsp of cereal and commercial brands are about 5 mg of iron for every 4 Tbsp of cereal. If you choose to feed your baby homemade cereal, there are other ways to get iron: a liquid vitamin with iron, or other foods high in iron: meats, prunes, spinach, beans.
So basically your baby will definitely need more iron, you will just have to choose how you will give it to them Hope that helps!

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This was incredibly helpful and informative for me! Exactly the answers i was looking for about iron. Thank you!

When you go to use it from the freezer, after its thawed, do you add warmed milk (breast or formula) to it and then feed baby? Plus baby food if needed for flavor?

5 stars
I am a first time mom of a beautiful baby girl who will be 5 months on Sunday. I have been exclusively breastfeeding and plan to start her on cereal at 6 months. I have always planned on making her food (as much as possible) instead of buying baby food and this is great info! Thanks so much!

How do I make this with breastmilk instead of water? And does homemade cereal have less chemicals than the store bought one?

Hi May, you can use breast milk instead of water and try using just a lot less of both the milk and grain. I can’t give you a clear answer about “chemicals,” but I can say that we support making food from scratch because homemade tends to include more fresh, flavorful whole foods than store-bought.

Using breastmilk to help thin it, when feeding, or making it with breastmilk, would help add some iron to it. ( To those concerned with iron levels. )

Do you have to cook it, like you instructed or can you just use your freshly expressed or thawed or breast milk and just stir it?

5 stars
If I make cook it with breastmilk can I freeze it ?
And if I freeze it can I cook it with already frozen breastmilk?
I have a way oversupply so I want too use some of my frozen stuff!!

There has been research done that shows that breast milk that has been thawed and refrozen within an 8 hour window had no bacterial build-up or decrease in nutritional value- but we recommend that you do your research and use your best judgement. 🙂 We understand not wanting that liquid gold to go to waste!

Hi, thanks for the great tips! Talking about rice, I always wash it before cooking. How then to grind rice to make poridge if wet? You don’t wash rice before blending it?

In our research, it is not necessary to wash rice before using it if purchased in the US. 🙂 If you choose to rinse it, I would recommend letting it dry before blending it. Good luck!

Having a hard time. Trying just to make a small batch I broke it down to 1 tablespoon to 8 tablespoon water. been steeming for an hour and nothing much happening

You are going to need more grain – my recommendation would be to follow the full recipe and then store the rest in the fridge for future use.