Dairy free porridge is a great breakfast option for babies who are weaning dairy free. Even a simple mix of plain porridge oats and your choice of fortified plant based milk is a fantastic way to start the day – it’s filling, gives slow release energy and a great calcium boost. However, if you want to supercharge your porridge there are plenty of ways to take it to the next level! Here I am sharing my top 5 practical tips for getting the most nutrition into your baby’s dairy free porridge. I’ve also got lots of serving suggestion to keep things interesting,
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How to make dairy free porridge for babies
Choosing your oats
We eat a lot of porridge, so I’ve found it best to go for the big bags of 100% pure porridge oats. That way you can make a portion suitable for your baby’s appetite – or can make a big batch to feed the whole family! You can buy individual sachets of porridge oats, but these are more expensive (and often contain sneaky ingredients, including milk powder).
It is fine for babies to eat porridge made with rolled oats from 6 months. However, if you prefer to start with something smoother you can give the oats a whizz in a food processor. To save time I would do this in bulk and keep in a large tupperware* so you have lots ready to go!
You can also buy porridge oats which are ready ground and marketed as baby porridge. Again these are more expensive and many contain milk powder – so always check carefully. Organix have a range of flavours which are readily available in many supermarkets.
Choosing a plant based milk
Once you’ve got your oats, you will need to choose your plant based milk. You can use your baby’s normal milk, or mix it up for a bit of variation – almond, oat, hemp, even pea all work well. Each will give a slightly different end result, which is good for getting your baby used to different tastes and textures. Whichever you choose, go for an unsweetened and calcium fortified version.
You can find more information about choosing a plant based milk for your baby in this article about dairy free weaning.
Although you can make porridge with water, I would suggest using plant based milk for optimum calories and nutrition.
My approach to cooking porridge is a bit slap dash – I add the the oats to a saucepan or microwavable bowl and then pour in enough milk to cover the, plus a cm or so extra milk on top. I measure a mug full of oats to make 3 to 4 portions. Cook for either 2 minutes in the microwave or about 10 minutes on the hob, stirring frequently. If it looks to be drying out I add a bit more milk as it’s cooking. If you find after cooking that the porridge is a bit thick you can simply add a little more of your chosen milk. This also helps it to cool down quickly!
However, I realise that this approach is not very helpful if you’r looking for clear instructions! So I will hand you over to the Quaker oats website, who say to mix 40g of Rolled Oats with 300ml of (plant based) milk or water and bring to the boil. Then simmer and stir with a spoon until the oats are thick and creamy.
You can then choose your toppings! Scroll down to see lots of dairy free serving suggestions suitable for babies.
Top tips to supercharge your baby’s dairy free porridge
Whichever flavour combo you go for, there are some easy ways to increase the nutritional value. Here are my top 5 tips for easy ways to add extra goodness to your baby’s dairy free porridge:
1. Add a spoonful of ground flax seeds to your oats. This hardly changes the taste at all but adds protein, fibre and omega 3 – along with a range of vitamins and minerals.
2. Stir through a spoonful of smooth nut butter before serving. This is a great source of protein as well as adding extra calories and healthy fats. Go for a pure nut butter with no added salt or sugar such as Meridian*. If your child has a nut allergy you could use sunflower or pumpkin seed butter instead.
3. Sprinkle on some chia seeds for a fibre and protein boost. Chia seeds are a rich source of minerals, including calcium.
4. Instead of just using porridge oats, switch up the grains and use half oats and half quinoa flakes. Unusually for a plant based protein source, quinoa is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all nine essential amino acids.
5. Mix up your toppings! Variation is great for gut health, and you could easily have a different porridge variation each day. Options include raspberries, blueberries, mashed banana, raisins or chopped apricots – even grated carrot.
Porridge toppings for babies
There are so many different ways to serve dairy free porridge to babies; the list of possible toppings and flavours is endless! Below are some of our favourites for you to try:
- Mashed or sliced banana and a spoonful of smooth nut butter* is a filling and tasty combo. Those with nut allergies can try sunflower seed butter instead.
- Berries are one of our favourite ways to add extra flavour to porridge. Raspberries, blackberries and blueberries all work well. I tend to use frozen as they are much cheaper but equally delicious! Just stir through frozen fruit for a minute or so before the porridge finishes cooking so they have time to defrost.
- Dried fruits such as raisins or chopped soft apricots are a good way to add some extra iron.
- Mix in some dairy free yogurt. Choose a fortified yogurt to add extra calcium.
- For something a bit different, try this Riverford carrot cake porridge recipe (but leave out the walnuts which are a choke risk).
- Stir through chia jam (switch the honey to maple syrup for under ones), or a fruit puree to add a quick boost of flavour.
How to adapt dairy free porridge for babies with other dietary requirements
Some people who can’t eat gluten also need to avoid standard oats; according to Coeliac UK there is a high danger of gluten cross contamination due to the manufacturing processes. However, oats produced to be totally gluten free are now readily available. If in doubt always choose oats specifically labelled as gluten free.
To make porridge suitable for those with nut allergies you will need to choose a nut free plant based milk. For example, you could go for oat, soya or hemp milk. You should also double check your oats for any ‘may contain nuts’ warning.
More dairy & egg free breakfast ideas for babies
Thinking up a variety of dairy & egg free breakfast ideas can be a challenge, so porridge has become a bit of a hero breakfast for us! Here are some other dairy and egg free favourites which you might like to try:
- Dairy free yogurt sundaes
- Mango and coconut overnight oats
- Egg-free pancakes such as sweet potato pancakes, no-egg baby banana pancakes or quinoa and blueberry pancakes
- Eggless french toast
- Weetabix breakfast balls
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