Do you have a half empty box of baby cereal left sitting on the kitchen shelf because baby is progressing onto other foods and textures? Don’t throw it away! There are still plenty of other ways to use the baby cereal besides it being a first pureed food for baby. Here are some great ways to put that remaining baby cereal to use:
Secret Use #1: As a Thickener
Add a little bit to thicken up yogurt, thin sauces, or your mistakes (e.g., if you happen to add in too much expressed breast milk, formula or water into your baby’s food by accident) or anything that may be too watery a consistency for your baby to manage and could cause baby to choke or gag when swallowing.
Secret Use #2: As a Fortifier
Baby cereal can come in handy when you want to give your baby’s meal a little boost in terms of calories and nutrients. Just mix a very small amount of the baby cereal with some expressed breast milk, formula or water, before adding it into an existing meal prepared for baby like pureed or mashed veggies, fruits or a mixed savoury meal. In the United States, baby cereal comes fortified with other nutrients like zinc, B vitamins, iron and calcium. So besides calories, you’ll be giving baby a few additional nutrients too, especially if you use some formula or breast milk to make up the baby cereal.
Secret Use #3: As a Transitional Aid
You may want to use baby cereal to help your baby transition over to more textured solids. I found this to be the case when my baby was about 7 to 9 months old. I had tried to give a mixed meal consisting of softened small pasta pieces and pureed meat in a tomato veggie sauce, but found baby choked and often gagged, bringing up what she previously ate. However I found it worked better when I added 1-2 small spoonfuls of baby cereal to the mix and minced the pasta down to even smaller pieces. The baby cereal helped to smooth out the texture for that in-between stage for meals like the pasta combo dish so baby was able to mash and swallow better, especially since my little one could still only mash foods between the gums. As baby’s teeth came in and baby became a more experienced eater, I gradually phased out use of the baby cereal.
Secret Use #4: As a Mild Sweetener
Sometimes a food may still be a bit too sour—like plain full-fat natural cow’s milk yogurt or Greek yogurt—even when these have some added fresh mashed or minced ripened fruit inside. I found that when I added a small spoon or two of baby oatmeal cereal (this has a slightly sweet taste compared to baby rice which is completely bland), this helped with the overall taste and baby took it better. It also made the yogurt a little bit thicker in consistency. So using a bit of baby oatmeal cereal is an option you can try, especially if you want to stay away from adding sugar, and babies under a year old shouldn’t be given honey. But of course, always try to add a bit of mashed fresh fruit or sweeter vegetables first—there are plenty of choices (e.g., banana, ripe mango, strawberries, ripe blueberries, raspberries, kiwis, butternut squash, sweet potato)! Another option is to add a bit of unsweetened natural applesauce to the plain full-fat natural cow’s milk yogurt or Greek yogurt first, before mixing in some mashed or minced ripened fruit or vegetables.