Unlocking the Goodness of Grains Part 4: Oats Day 2: Unlocking the Goodness of Grains Part 4: Oats

Unlocking the Goodness of Grains Part 4: Oats

Oats, a wholesome cereal grain, can be a wonderfully nutritious addition to your baby's diet. Oatmeal and oat flour are commonly chosen as early foods for infants because of their rich nutritional profile. The high fiber content in oats can foster good bacteria in the gut, so oats are good for babies, especially those struggling with constipation.

You can start including oats in their meals as early as 6 months, or when you introduce solid foods.

To start with, consider introducing your baby to oat porridge. Once they become used to this and are able to handle it comfortably, you can gradually expand their palate by adding oats into various options like dosa, patties, or pancakes made with oats.

Why Are Oats Good for Your Baby?

Oats are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, which give your baby the energy they need. They are also rich in essential nutrients, including protein, fiber, zinc, Vitamin E, folate, choline, iron, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. These nutrients help fortify your baby's body, enhance resilience, and help them combat harmful toxins.

Types of Oats & What Should You Choose?

There are several types of oats available, each with its own unique characteristics. Here are the most common types of oats:

Baby oatmeal

      • Also known as infant oatmeal or baby cereal.
      • A type of cereal specifically formulated for infants and young babies as one of their first solid foods.
      • A ready-to-eat cereal, which can be mixed with hot liquid like water or milk, and served to babies.
      • If you are offering cereal to your little one, we highly recommend choosing oats cereal over rice cereal as it has more nutrients.

Instant oats

      • Precooked and then dried oats, which means they cook extremely quickly, often just by adding hot water.
      • Have a softer texture compared to other oat types.
      • Because they’re more processed, they are also low in fiber.
      • Can be offered to babies occasionally for the sake of convenience while traveling or if you have less time on hand. But best to avoid frequent use.
      • Flavored oats like strawberry oats contain more sugar, sodium, and preservatives, so make sure you read the food labels before buying it.

Steel-cut oats

      • The least processed form of oats (include the bran layer, which contains most of the nutrition).
      • They have a hearty, chewy texture and are higher in fiber.
      • As they are least processed, they take longer to cook.
      • You can transform cooked steel-cut oats into a puree or porridge-like thick consistency, which babies can easily eat.
      • You can make it sweet by adding fruits.
      • You can make it savory by adding veggies and light seasoning.

Rolled oats

      • The popular choice used in most households.
      • A great option to offer to babies.
      • They are flattened, pre-cooked, and dried.
      • Cooking time is relatively less compared to steel-cut oats.
      • They also retain the fiber like steel-cut oats.
      • Texture is smoother and softer, making it easier for babies to enjoy them.
      • Make porridge; powder the rolled oats and use the flour to make other foods like pancakes, tikkis, etc.

Oat flour

      • Get ready-made oat flour or make it at home.
      • If oat flour is made by pounding the whole grain, it will retain most of the fiber.
      • A gluten-free option that can easily replace maida (refined wheat flour) in baking or making pancakes or patties.

Oat groats

      • Dehulled oat grain (raw oats in its purest form).
      • Retain all the nutritional content (including fiber) of oats.
      • Take the longest time to cook compared to all forms.
      • Not recommended to introduce oat groats to very young babies (can introduce after they’re 1 years).
      • Can be powdered too to make oat flour.

How to Prepare Oats for Babies?

Ensure your baby consumes cooked oats, and not raw oats. Here are some ways to prepare oats.

Method 1: Oats Porridge

You can introduce oats as solid food to your baby around the age of 6 months by preparing delicious oat porridges. Mix oats with fruits or vegetables and serve them in a bowl for your little one to explore with their hands.

Alternatively, use a preloaded spoon that they can grasp and bring to their mouth. E.g., oats banana porridge, oats mango porridge, oats pumpkin porridge, and oats carrot porridge, among others.

Method 2: Incorporate into Various Recipes

Oats can also be incorporated into different recipes, such as oats khichdi, savory veggie oats pancakes, oats dalia, oats upma, oats dosa with grated veggies, and oats tikki with potato or rajma.

Method 3: Oats with Nuts and Seeds

Preparing oats with milk, powdered nuts, dry fruits, powdered seeds, and ghee is an excellent way to introduce oats to your baby. This not only supports healthy weight gain but also provides essential fats for your baby's developing brain and overall growth. E.g., oats apple dry fruits porridge with milk and oats banana gulkand porridge with milk.

Method 4: Oats Granola

You can offer oats granola to babies over 9 months old. However, ensure it is free of honey, added sugars, salt, and preservatives. You can offer slightly crushed homemade oats granola or oats muesli, but be cautious about avoiding honey, sugar, salt, and whole dry fruits to prevent choking hazards.

As we keep saying, make sure your baby gets a variety of foods and not just one type. So you could include oats in their diet 2-3 meals in a week.

 

TIP: To make porridge, first cook oats in water; then add breast milk or cow's milk once it’s well cooked. If you use steel-cut oats, they take longer to cook and become soft enough to give your baby.

 

Oats Are Not a Common Allergen

Oats is not a common allergen, but please remember allergies can occur with any food. So, it’s best to observe your baby when you introduce a new food type for any discomfort or reactions after consumption. If you have any doubts, speak to your doctor.

Oats Are Gluten-Free!

Oats are naturally gluten-free. But oftentimes, oats are processed in facilities that also process wheat or other gluten-containing grains, which may lead to cross-contamination. If your baby has celiac disease or a wheat intolerance, avoid giving them oats.

Oats Are Not a Choking Hazard

Oats are not a choking hazard, because of their small shape and size. Also, the consistency or texture of cooked oats do not pose a threat. However, with any food, ensure your baby is sitting down and upright in a steady position, to avoid any risk of choking during mealtime.

Is Oat Milk OK for Babies?

Under 1 year of age, we do not recommend serving your baby any sort of beverage like cow’s milk or alternatives. This is because, as discussed earlier, they are getting their hydration and nutrition from breast or formula milk. Drinking any other beverage will fill up their tiny bellies and displace the essential nutrients they need.

But yes, oat milk can be used to make your baby’s other foods like porridge or cereal. It can be used in place of breast/formula/cow’s milk for these preparations only. However, be mindful that oat milk lacks the essential nutrients usually found in cow’s/breast milk.

OATS: Age-Wise Recipes & Tips

6 to 8 months

1) Oats porridge with breast milk: Initially, oats can be cooked in water, then mixed with breast milk. Mash it with a spoon or blend it in a blender to make porridge. Either serve in a bowl for your baby to scoop with their hands or offer it on a preloaded spoon.

 

2) Oats porridge with cow’s milk: Oats can be cooked in cow’s milk the same way you did with breast milk. Mash it with a spoon or blend it in a blender to make porridge (do not add sugar, salt, or honey). Either serve in a bowl for your baby to scoop with their hands or offer it on a preloaded spoon.

 

3) You can also offer oats khichdi, curd oats, oats egg custard, oats kheer sweetened with dates, or oats egg omelet.

9 to 11 months

1) Continue to offer oats in the above ways. However, do not blend the porridge in a blender; it can be given as it is (cooked oats with the grainy texture) to your baby. Just cook oats in water and milk (in that order). 

 

2) Oats dosa, roti, idli, chilla: Cut the oats dosa or roti in long strips; cute oats idli in wedge shape. Offer these to your baby with a side of sambhar or dal or chutney or gravy. Eat with your baby: mimic taking a strip or wedge-shaped piece, dip it in the side gravy/liquid, and eat with your hands. Your baby can learn from watching you and this is a great way to encourage them to work on their pincer grasp.

 

3) Oats patties, fritters, egg scramble: Make small round patty-shaped or long 2-to-3-inch strips. Offer these in a plate with a side of dip like curd or yogurt or mint dip. Either you can encourage your baby to eat with their hands or you can dip the patty or fritter with your hands and offer them to your baby as a finger food to grab and hold.

 

4) Oats smoothie: Add and blend together with fruits, milk, and dry fruits. Oat milkshakes can also be offered in a sippy cup. Allow your baby to hold the cup with their hands and drink.

12 to 24 months

1) Continue to offer oats in the above ways. 

 

You can also try a variety of other options such as:

 

2) Oats energy balls, oats meatballs

 

3) Oats pudding cooked with milk; add some cut fruits or nuts or nut butters and seeds to enhance the taste and nutrition!

 

4) Oats granola bar, oats cookies, oats muffins, oats egg custard, oats muesli with milk, etc.

Tomorrow, we will explore the next grain packed with goodness: Amaranth or Rajgira. Don’t miss it!

Learn the right ways to nourish from experts