Wednesday, September 08, 2010

how to make homemade baby cereal

I make homemade baby cereal for our two baby girls and earlier this week I took some photos to show how easy it is. (I follow the directions given by Ruth Yaron in her popular and helpful book Super Baby Food.)
I use a ten dollar Black and Decker coffee grinder to grind rice and oats. I have tried soybeans with my old inherited grinder, but it didn't like the hard beans and broke after my second batch. I definitely would use a grain grinder to grind legumes, but a coffee grinder is sufficient for long grain brown rice and oats which is what I use.

Fill up the grinder with as much rice as it will hold before spilling everywhere which is usually what happens to me. :)

Now this is where it gets noisy so you may want to either warn anyone in the area or move to a more remote part of the house to avoid hearing complaints or crying.
When you first start grinding, it will sound something like little rocks pinging the underside of your car as you drive down a newly chip-sealed back road. This is normal and will gradually subside as the rice gets ground. When you hear next to nothing, the rice is done. (If you're worried about pieces remaining behind unground, remember that we will be cooking this and those pieces if there are any will become soft and mushy.)

It should look powdery and dry. I dump it into the container that I store it in for later use.

Next I grind up the oats which right now are old-fashioned rolled oats. Steel cut oats, which look like tiny pieces of oats rolled up in a tiny scroll would work as well as quick-cooking oats. So take your pick and grind them up too. (Note, if you are introducing one cereal at a time, then skip the oats and follow the directions for cooking the rice only. I myself started with just rice but then added the oats when I finally remembered to grind some.)

The oats are much quieter, quicker and softer to grind up than the rice but still end up looking just as powdery and dry as the rice.

I use a quarter cup of each ground cereal. If you are only using the rice, then use a half a cup of the rice. If you want only the oats, then use half a cup as well. I'm sure you could have figured that out, I just wanted to be clear. :)

Add the measured cereal to a medium saucepan or pot and admire your work, unless your children are hanging off your legs crying for food, then get busy adding the water.

Half cup of cereal needs two and half cups of water. Rice alone or mixed with oats, the water amount stays the same.

Add the water, turn the heat to high and do not leave the stove!

Stir it immediately to distribute the grain and avoid huge lumps from forming.

With the heat on high, it will soon begin to bubble. Stir frequently. I like to use a silicon spatula, since I can use it to scrape the cooled cereal out later.

More bubbles, keep stirring.

Almost there, stir some more.

This is a full boil and it's time to turn down the heat to low-mid range, simmering is what I guess it would be called. Take it off the heat for a moment if you feel it's going to boil over and make a terrible mess, but do keep up the stirring!

As the full boil begins to slow down, the cereal is now starting to thicken. Lumps can still form quite easily so frequent stirring is best.

It may seem somewhat thin right now, but it will thicken to that porridge state very quickly over the next couple of minutes.

If you need to serve it right away, pull it off the burner, keep stirring and allow it to start cooling. As it sits, a crust will form over the top, but it can be mixed back in without causing too much texture change.

Once it has cooled sufficiently to be put into a container, it should all fit nicely into this medium container. I then refrigerate it until I need some at which point I put it into a microwaveable bowl and heat it until warm. It likely will be more firm than boxed baby cereals but my girls have no problem with the texture and Special K doesn't chew her food yet so it works well for both of them.

Store the uncooked cereals in a airtight container. I am feeding two children up to three meals a day so I make the amount above every other day right now. I could make it in bigger batches but this works for me just as well.

I know that this is considered baby cereal but it can easily be given to an older toddler or child as a better alternative to most breakfast cereals. Also many people are into soaking their grains before cooking which was done in previous generations by peoples all over the world. If you are interested in pursuing soaking, here is one book and one site to check into. Nourishing Traditions is a popular book which I own and use as a reference. And The Nourishing Gourmet is one website that I have done some reading on. Soaking is a commitment which I have yet to commit to but I think many people find a good deal of health benefits including tolerating wheat products that previously they were allergic to.

You will definitely save money by making your own cereal as a bag of rice costs as much as a box of baby cereal and will last much, much longer. But just as important, in my opinion, it has more nutrition than the boxed cereal. I serve this warm with a fork-mashed banana to my girls for the main part of their breakfast. At lunch, they get another serving with their vegetables and at dinner again with more veggies and meat. Everyday works a little differently but this is a typical menu.
And I do cook my own vegetables unless we are traveling then I usually buy it in the jar.
If I left something out or you have any questions, comments or suggestions I'd love to hear from you. :)


  1. you are such a great homemaker!!! I'm impressed!... Love you, and thanks for calling yesterday. :)

  2. Carmen7:45 AM

    Nice to look this over and be prepared for the next phase of feeding our little guy. Thanks!

  3. Thanks Norma! Love you too!
    Carmen, so nice to hear from you. Thanks!


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