When Can My Baby Have Oatmeal?

Oatmeal is a great early food for baby, but when can you start feeding baby oatmeal? Learn the answer here, plus ways to introduce oatmeal to baby.

When can baby start eating oatmeal?

Baby oatmeal is a healthy and safe first food --- baby can start eating it as soon as they're ready for solids. But when is baby ready to start their solid food journey, and munch on oatmeal for the first time?

Typically, a baby is ready to start solids between 4 and 6 months of age. 

But baby won't automatically be ready for solids at a certain age or weight. 

Rather, readiness for solids is a developmental milestone. This means baby will be ready to eat oatmeal once they show certain development cues or signs.

What types of cues do you need to look out for?

A baby is ready for solids when they:

  • Have good control of the head and neck
  • Can hold the head and neck steady for longer amounts of time 
  • Sit upright on their own, with minimal to no support
  • Opens their mouth or leans forward when you hold food in front of them
  • Show an interest in the family's foods during family mealtimes
    • They may look longingly at food, open their mouth, or even reach for the food and try to grasp at it
  • Have a tongue reflex that no longer pushes food out of the mouth.
    • Instead, the tongue reflex brings food to the back of their mouth and swallows.

Watch this video with Nurse Dani to learn how you can tell when your baby is ready to eat solid food: 

 

Baby Oatmeal vs. Regular Oatmeal

What makes baby oatmeal different from regular oatmeal? 

And do you need to choose an oatmeal that’s specially designed for babies?  Or can you feed baby regular oatmeal (steel-cut or rolled oats)?

While some babies can handle the texture of regular oatmeal, many babies benefit from baby oatmeal, especially when they are first starting solids.

Baby oatmeal is finely blended, so it’s thinner and smoother than regular oatmeal. This is easier for babies to handle while they’re still learning to munch and chew.

If you decide to use baby oatmeal, you have a few options. 

  • You can choose a prepared baby oatmeal --- one that’s already specially made for babies’ early food needs. 
  • You could also blend steel-cut or rolled oats in a food processor before cooking them.
  • Or, you can puree cooked steel-cut oats or rolled oats in a food processor with water, to make them smoother. 

However you decide to serve baby oatmeal, be sure to choose oats with no sugar added! According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines,  babies under two years of age shouldn’t consume foods with added sugar.

And remember --- as baby gets more experience with solids, they need exposure to a variety of textures and flavors. 

  • So, as baby builds munching and chewing skills,  consider adding some regular oatmeal into baby’s diet.
  • You can also add small pieces of chopped baby-safe fruits into oatmeal.  (Keep reading for more suggestions on how to serve baby oatmeal!)
  • And be sure to feed baby a variety of other healthy foods with many other textures and flavors. After all, a diverse, healthy diet helps them build lifelong nutritious eating habits, and learn crucial munching and chewing skills.

Why is baby oatmeal such a beneficial first food?

Oats are packed with vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and fibers. They also contain more proteins and healthy fats than most other grains. 

Some key nutrients in oatmeal include:

  • Multiple B vitamins 
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Zinc
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorous

As baby grows and starts to eat more solids (and consumes less breastmilk or formula), eating foods with a healthy balance of nutrients becomes even more crucial.

Introducing baby to oatmeal early will help baby choose and enjoy a food with all these healthy benefits, throughout the rest of their life.

Plus, the fibers in oatmeal help keep baby from getting constipated, and the structure of oatmeal means it's easy for baby to digest.

Remember, though: When you start solids like oatmeal, breastmilk or formula should remain baby’s primary nutrition source until they turn one year of age. Even with all its nutritional benefits, oatmeal is no substitute for breastmilk or formula.

How to prepare baby oatmeal?

You can easily prepare baby oatmeal using breast milk or formula. Giving baby oatmeal prepared this way means that baby will enjoy a familiar taste along with the oats' new flavor and texture. So, it's a great introductory food for even the pickiest babies. 

And with baby oatmeal, the possibilities are endless, especially as baby continues to try more solid foods. 

  • Baby oatmeal prepared with breastmilk, formula or cow's milk is a healthy, yummy option on its own. 
  • But you can also top or mix oatmeal with practically any softened, chopped fruit. 
    • Try oatmeal with chopped peaches, chopped mango, mashed  banana pieces, cooked and chopped apples, chopped strawberries, mashed raspberries, or mashed blueberries.
  • Mix oatmeal with plain yogurt, chia seeds, or both. 
  • Spice things up with a bit of cinnamon, or another spice.
  • You can even get adventurous and mix oatmeal with veggies, like avocado, pureed carrots, or chopped butternut squash!

If you’re mixing oatmeal with breastmilk or formula, you’ll need to do this in a bowl. 

Follow the instructions on the oatmeal, or try this common recipe: 1 to 2 Tbsp. baby oatmeal mixed with about 4 to 5 Tbsp. breast milk or formula.

Do NOT mix and feed oatmeal in baby’s bottle of breastmilk or formula. This can pose a choking hazard. 

What if I’m doing baby-led weaning?

Even though baby oatmeal is a smoother first food, it can still fit into solids introduction if you’re doing baby-led weaning.

  • You can preload oatmeal on a spoon, then let baby grab the spoon and self-feed when they are ready. 
  • Or, you can prepare oatmeal so it gets thicker, and present it to baby in clumps for them to pick up with their hands. 

Introduce Allergens Safely and Easily with Ready, Set, Food!

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All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  

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