Oatmeal For Babies: When Can They Have And What Are Its Benefits

Oats For Babies

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Oatmeal is an excellent food for babies who have started eating solids. The grain is rich in essential nutrients such as fiber, proteins, and vitamins. Without a doubt, oats are good for babies, but what is the right age for introducing it? Also, can a baby be allergic to oats? Here, MomJunction answers these questions and tells you more about the benefits of oatmeal for babies.

But before we go deep into the details, let us understand the basic difference between oats and oatmeal. Whereas oats are whole grains, oatmeal is the processed oats with the hull removed. Oatmeal is what we get in the market but in several forms and types. 

When Can Babies Have Oatmeal?

You can give oatmeal to a baby at the age of six months (1). In fact, it can be one of the first solid foods for the baby. Oats are packed with nourishment.

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Health Benefits Of Oats For Babies

Your baby could enjoy the following health benefits with an oats diet:

  1. Provides nourishment to babies with gluten allergy: Babies allergic to gluten cannot consume grains like wheat, rye, and barley that provide essential nutrition. But they can eat oats, which are gluten-free and have the same vitamins and minerals the essential grains do. Oatmeal helps improve the nutritional value of a gluten-free diet that can lead to nutritional deficiencies in babies (2).
  1. Oats are good at easing constipation: Since oats are rich in fiber, they help tackle constipation. Medical experts recommend making oats a part of diet when the individual has constipation, and this suggestion works even for infants (3).
  1. Good for immunity: Oats contain a type of sugar called beta-glucans that boosts the production of immune system cells. So, regular consumption of oats can keep the immune system healthy, which is an advantage for a growing baby (4).
  1. Helps reduce inflammation: Oats contain compounds called avenanthramides that can reduce the inflammation caused due to multiple reasons, including infections and wounds. Infants having some auto-immune diseases may benefit from the anti-inflammatory properties of oats (5).
  1. Improves insulin sensitivity: Infants born with congenital type-1 diabetes may benefit from oats consumption as the grain reduces insulin resistance. It means the body uses the injected insulin better, reducing the effect of diabetes (6).
  1. Vital food for babies with GERD: One of the treatment options for infants with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is giving them solid food in the form of thicker purees. Oatmeal is considered a safe and healthy means of thickening food for such babies (7).

Oats that are processed to remove the hull or cover are referred to as oatmeal. This is what we get in the market. But this oatmeal is of several types.

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[ Read: Yummy Oats Recipes For Babies ]

Types Of Oatmeal

When you go shopping for oats, you are quite likely to spot the following varieties of oatmeal options in the market:

1. Rolled oats

Rolled oats

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The picture that comes to your mind when you think of oats is probably that of rolled oats. Rolled oats are oat flakes derived from whole oat grain. They are made by steaming dehulled (without skin) oat grains and then running them through a roller before drying. Rolled oats come in two varieties: slow-cooking and fast-cooking oats.

2. Coarse oat flour

Coarse oat flour

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Whole oat grain, and not refined oat grain, is pounded to form a coarse flour that is packed with fiber. An infant oat cereal mix is quite likely to contain oat flour since it mixes well with hot water.

3. Instant oats

Instant oats

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This is the most processed type of oats. The oat grain is boiled, rolled, and then dried before packaging. Instant oats are semi-cooked and are usually found in the ready-to-eat baby cereals that can be prepared just by adding hot or boiling water.

4. Dehulled whole oat grain:

Dehulled whole oat grain

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If instant oats are most processed, then whole oat grains are the least. Dehulled whole oat grain, also called whole oat groat, is raw oats in their purest form, with 100% of their nutritional value intact.

5. Steel-cut oatmeal

Steel-cut oatmeal

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Whole oat grains that are cut into small bits by powerful steel blades are called steel-cut oats. They contain the same nutritional value of whole oat grains but cook faster since the grain is broken into smaller pieces.

After realizing that there are a variety of oats, we know what you are thinking.

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[ Read: Baby Foods Rich in Fiber ]

Which Is The Best Type Of Oatmeal For The Baby?

Steel-cut oatmeal is the best for babies since they are unprocessed, and retain all the nutrients of whole oats (8). You can use steel-cut oatmeal in various baby food recipes as per your convenience.

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How To Select And Store Oats For Babies?

Selecting oats: When selecting steel-cut oats or standard infant oat cereal, look for options with no added preservatives, sugar, salt and flavoring.

Storage: Store oats in a cool, dry place. Just like any other grain, oats can be susceptible to pest infestation. Make sure you keep the storage area clean and use anti-pest measures. Avoid anti-pest tablets or sachets since they can harm the baby. Purchase smaller quantities that you can consume within a short period. If you intend to store oats for an extended duration, then place it in an airtight container or ziplock pouch, and put in the freezer. The low humidity and low-temperature environment in the freezer prevent the oats from becoming soggy while keeping pests at bay.

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How To Process Oats For Babies?

Here is how you can cook rolled oats/infant oatmeal and steel-cut oats:

Cooking rolled oats/infant oatmeal for a baby:

  • Let the oats soak in water for a minute.
  • Cook them for 10-15 minutes or as per the time recommended on the packet.
  • Add more water or milk to adjust the consistency.
  • Cool and blend the cooked oats to prepare an oatmeal porridge for the baby.

Cooking steel-cut oats for babies:

Steel-cut oats are whole grains and thus require additional cooking time.

  • Boil the steel-cut oats for ten minutes and let them soak in boiled water overnight (11-12 hours).
  • In the morning, boil the oats again, this time for 15-20 minutes on a medium flame.
  • Keep stirring so that they cook evenly.
  • Once cooked, let the oats cool. Blend to make porridge.
  • You can use milk instead of water and follow the same preparation process.

In addition to having them with milk, oats can be combined with several other foods to make delicious oats baby food recipes.

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[ Read: Healthy Breakfast Ideas For Babies ]

Oats Baby Food Combinations

Oats taste the best when combined with the following food items:

  • Milk is often the leading choice to go with oats. You can make a delicious porridge by cooking oats with milk.
  • Nearly all types of fruits taste good with oats. Fruits, such as a banana with a naturally sweet pulp, go well with oats.
  • Boil finely-chopped vegetables with oats to make savory porridge for a baby.
  • Meat can be combined with oats in the same way as vegetables. You can make a delicious meat oat porridge using just oats, meat, and water.
  • Oats can also be combined with yogurt to form smoothies for babies; it is a perfect combination of pre-probiotic meal for your baby.

Oats taste great with nearly all foods, which means that they can be a part of your baby’s diet. But allergies are always a concern when introducing new foods to babies.

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Can A Baby Be Allergic To Oats?

Yes, a baby can be allergic to oats, but the chances are few. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that oats are less likely than the other grains, such as wheat or rye, to cause an allergy and thus, they are safe to be included it a baby’s diet (9).

However, if your baby is allergic to oats, then they will display symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, skin hives, abdominal pain, lethargy, and swelling of the face.

An extreme manifestation of food allergy is food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES), where symptoms like vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea are severe (10). Take your baby to the doctor right away if you suspect he is showing signs of a food allergy.

Have a few more questions on giving oats to your baby? Read on.

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[ Read: Millet Cereal Recipes For Baby ]

Frequently Asked Questions About Oats For Babies

1. Is oatmeal better than rice cereal for babies?

Yes. Oatmeal contains more fiber than rice cereal and is thus good for digestion. Some babies may develop constipation when fed on rice cereal. Pediatric experts see oatmeal as an excellent alternative to rice cereal to relieve constipation in babies (11).

2. Should I prefer organic oats over regular oats?

Yes, you may choose organic oats over regular oats. Oats are not among the list of foods most contaminated with pesticides, but they may contain traces of pesticides (12) (13). Therefore, purchasing organic variants is always a good idea.

3. How often should I feed oatmeal cereal to my baby?

You can add a few tablespoons of oatmeal to your baby’s solid diet every day. The quantity of oatmeal entirely depends on your personal preference. Three to four tablespoons of oats every day can provide adequate fiber and nutrition to a growing infant.

4. Does oatmeal cereal generate gas in babies?

No. There is no scientific evidence to say that oatmeal can lead to gassy babies.

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Oats are packed with nutrients and have fewer chances of causing allergies even among babies eating solid food for the first time. The quantity of fiber and special sugars in oats is higher than that in other grains, which makes oatmeal more nutritious. Make oats a part of your little one’s diet to support their growth and development.

[ Read: Wheat Flour Benefits For Baby ]

Do you include oatmeal in your baby’s diet? Share your experience with us in the comments section below.

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Rohit Garoo

Rohit Garoo took writing as a profession right after finishing his MBA in Marketing. Earlier he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Botany & Zoology from the autonomous St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai. Rohit has also done a Stanford University certification course on breastfeeding. This botanist-zoologist turned writer excels at life sciences, and at MomJunction he writes everything about pediatrics and maternal care. In between writing and being overly curious, he spends time cooking, reading, and playing video games. LinkedIn profile –
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