Oatmeal is a powerhouse first food for babies with many health benefits. Learn the top 12 health benefits of feeding baby oatmeal.
As baby gradually moves away from breastmilk or formula, and starts their solids journey, it's vital to choose their first foods carefully so they get the nutrients they need.
Along with a variety of soft fruits and vegetables, there's one very easy first food choice to introduce to baby: oatmeal
Oatmeal is a healthy powerhouse food for babies. It's packed with several nutrients needed for baby's growth and development.
And once baby's ready to start solids, they can start eating oatmeal!
But how exactly does oatmeal help your little one grow up healthy and strong? Here are the top 12 benefits of oatmeal for babies.
1. It's high in iron for brain health
Baby's brain and nervous system need iron to work properly.
To send signals from the brain all over the body, and react and respond to surroundings after the brain processes them, the nerve cells require iron.
This means baby needs iron for:
- Developing motor skills
- Social-emotional growth
- Language development
- Overall brain performance and functioning
And baby's experiencing lots of brain growth and development, at a rapid pace.
Fortunately, oatmeal's high in iron, so feeding baby oatmeal is an easy way to promote a healthy brain.
It's even better if you choose an oatmeal that's fortified with added iron.
Learn more about how iron promotes baby's brain health here.
2. It has the power of mighty magnesium
Magnesium is another powerful mineral that oatmeal is rich in. It helps with many essential functions in baby's body:
- Strengthens baby's bone health by activating Vitamin D and calcium
- Works with calcium to keep muscles healthy
- Promotes a healthy heart
- Supports the immune system when it's fighting illness
- Can even promote healthy sleep
3. It's brimming with B Vitamins
In addition, oatmeal contains various B vitamins. The most notable is Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine.
Vitamin B1 helps baby's body turn the carbohydrates in foods into energy. It also helps cells grow and function properly. Plus, it helps electrolytes move in and out of baby's nerves and muscles (electrolytes are needed to keep the nerves and muscles working well).
Vitamin B1 is powerful because it helps many systems of the body perform properly:
- Brain and nervous system
- Digestive system (stomach and intestines)
And Vitamin B1 isn't stored in the body, so baby needs to eat foods containing it often once they start solids.
4. It aids in growth and development
We all know how many development milestones babies reach in the first year --- and how quickly babies grow.
Like other healthy grains, oatmeal is high in manganese, a mineral that promotes healthy growth, development, and metabolism. The proteins and zinc in oatmeal also helps keep baby's growth on track.
5. It contains several other key vitamins and minerals
Oatmeal is also a good source of several other minerals and vitamins, which help fuel vital processes all over the body.
Here's a sampling of other vitamins and minerals in oatmeal, and how they strengthen baby's body:
- Selenium: Helps with various processes, including healthy brain and immune system functioning
- Phosphorus: Keeps baby's bones healthy
- Calcium: Strengthens baby's bones, and helps their muscles and heart function properly
- Copper: Aids in heart health
- Zinc: Promotes a healthy immune system and helps wounds heal
6. It's protein-packed
Oatmeal contains more protein than almost all other grains, including a protein called avenalin that other grains don't have.
Protein helps baby's bones stay strong, and helps repair the body's tissues (including muscle tissue). It also helps with the overall maintenance and growth of the body.
7. It's high in carbohydrates and healthy fats
Oatmeal is an awesome source of healthy energy because it's packed with healthy fats and carbohydrates. Baby's body will use the energy from these nutrients to fuel its processes and keep running smoothly.
8. It's easy for baby to digest
Oatmeal has a single-grain structure, and contains lots of fiber, so it's easy for baby's still-growing digestive system to handle. That's yet another reason why oatmeal is an ideal first solid food choice!
9. It prevents constipation and gassiness
All that fiber brings another important benefit: it won't cause constipation or gassiness. The fiber also makes oatmeal behave like a natural laxative, making it easier for baby to pass bowel movements without struggle.
10. It helps baby know when they are full
Oats are a healthy way to satisfy baby's appetite. They promote feelings of fullness --- which can help baby get used to that feeling and regulate their appetite.
This also helps set baby up for a lifetime of healthy eating habits, as baby will be more likely to choose this nutritious and filling food later on.
11. It helps strengthen the immune system
Baby's immune system is still developing, leaving baby vulnerable to illnesses. Fortunately, oatmeal has several immune-boosting nutrients.
The beta-glucans in oatmeal help baby's white blood cells quickly respond to fight off infections. And the zinc, magnesium, and selenium in oatmeal also help strengthen baby's immune system.
12. It promotes healthy eating!
It's well-known that introducing healthy foods --- like oatmeal --- early and often promotes lasting nutritious eating habits later in life.
But introducing healthy oatmeal doesn't just equip babies to choose this particular healthy food later on.
Why? Oatmeal is a perfect vehicle to introduce other healthy foods --- mainly, a variety of fruits and vegetables.
The possibilities are endless with baby oatmeal! You can mix in any pureed, mashed, or chopped veggies and fruit (as long as they are prepared in a way that's safe for baby to digest).
This also means oatmeal's a great way to introduce baby to new veggies and fruits as they move through their solid food journey. Pairing the new food with the familiarity of the oatmeal may make baby more likely to accept the new taste.
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