Homemade grains are great for babies for many reasons. My little man has homemade organic steel cut oats almost everyday for breakfast which he loves...but do I get up extra early to cook them for him each day? Nope. I cook-store-freeze, just like our other homemade baby foods. Instead of cooking the grains and then blending them, we blend (actually grind) first, then cook (but, it is possible to cook then blend, it just has the potential to create a sticky mess!).
When I was starting out on this homemade baby food adventure I owned a Vitamix, an amazing tool for grinding grains into a fine powder within seconds! So, I ground a bunch of rice for our little man's first food (rice cereal). And then I sold the Vitamix on Craigslist. It was a gift and essentially brand new except for the 3 or 4 times we used it (to grind the rice and make some other baby food to freeze), but we decided we'd rather use the money for other things on our baby wish list (like a baby jogger). Whoa tangent! Sorry, just wanted to say that if you have a Vitamix, they are awesome for grinding your baby food grains. But if you don't have a Vitamix, there are a couple other tools that work. 1) A food processor or 2) a coffee grinder. I've heard from friends (and on my favorite baby food website) that the coffee grinder works great, but I've never tried it. By the time our little guy was ready to try new grains (after rice) we weren't too concerned about grinding them into a super fine powder because we wanted to add a little more texture to his diet. Our handy food processor was just the man for the job.
So, here's a quick little visual for you of how we do grains (after grinding them in our food processor):
1) Store excess ground grains in labeled containers in your fridge (we like to use glass containers whenever possible):
2) Boil water (or expressed breastmilk or a combination of both), add grains, and whisk, whisk, WHISK to avoid clumping for TEN minutes (it may seem like a long time to stand there and whisk, but just trust me on this one). I like to do a 1 to 4-5 grain to liquid ratio. So, if I'm making the steel cut oats for example, I'd probably boil 4-5 cups of water (I'd use breastmilk if I had it, but I don't produce that much extra) and whisk in 1 cup of ground oats. This has been the perfect consistency for our little man but if you're introducing grains to a younger one (like at 6 months) you'll probably want to add more liquid (our guy was never a fan of liquidy grains, though, and always preferred them a bit thicker).
3) After cooking (and whisking your arm off) let cool and then transfer to your freezer trays. I mentioned in my previous homemade baby food post that I like Fresh Baby food trays. I've also found that my Pampered Chef scoop is super handy for distributing all my homemade baby foods into each compartment of the tray.
This is how we do grains and we LOVE how it works for us. But of course, always be sure to do what's appropriate for your little one at whatever stage they're at! So far our little guy's main grains have been rice, oatmeal, quinoa, and barley. His two favorites are oatmeal and quinoa. What grains do your little ones love?