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Baby Oatmeal – Steel Cut Oats vs. Rolled Oats

As a first time mom, starting solids and feeding your baby real food can feel overwhelming! When we first started giving solids we were so nervous.

We didn’t want to make the wrong move and give our baby the wrong baby food. Usually pediatricians recommend starting baby on some kind of rice cereal or baby oatmeal.

But what kind of baby oatmeal should you start with? Baby rolled oats? What about steel cut oats? What’s the difference?

Ever wonder what kind of oatmeal to feed your baby? This post explains the difference between steel cut oats versus rolled oats. Also includes a baby oatmeal recipe!

This post contains some affiliate links for products we use and love.

When we first started solids foods with our kids we only gave them fruits and vegetables.  We didn’t feed them rice cereal because of the high level of toxins in rice. See this article on arsenic and heavy metals found in baby cereal made with rice.

We wanted to start adding more substance to their diets so we decided it was time to add baby oatmeal.

So what oatmeal should you be giving your baby? Baby oatmeal? Rolled Oats? Steel Cut oats? Rice cereal?

I am embarrassed to admit before kids I didn’t know the difference between steel cut oats and rolled oats. A lot of baby books recommend old-fashioned rolled oats, but I wanted to find out for myself.

After some research I found steel cut oats are less processed. Both are from oat groats, but steel cut oats are chopped into thick pieces while rolled oats are steamed then rolled/flaked to flatten.

Baby oats are simply steamed and flaked into a thinner piece of oat. The main difference is in the level of processing.

Overall, there is not a large difference in the nutritional value, but many people suggest steel cut oats are slightly more nutritious because they are the least processed.

Pros of Steel Cut Oats

  • Less processed
  • May have a lower glycemic index, but this is debated
  • Higher in calories compared to old-fashioned rolled oats
  • Less sugar (but this is minimal 1g versus 0g)

Cons of Steel Cut Oats

  • Take longer to cook
  • May be thicker in texture

After reviewing the pros and cons I think steel cut oats and rolled oats are both great for baby. I prefer oats over rice cereal.  

So do you need baby oatmeal or can you use “adult” oatmeal with your baby?  

Our pediatrician told us we once our baby was 6 months old we didn’t need to buy “baby specific oatmeal.”  

Our kids could eat our oatmeal. This was a relief because baby oats cost more and if we are making oatmeal for ourselves it takes out one more step! 

Steel cut oats can be thicker in texture. If you baby seems to do better with a thinner more pureed texture you can grind up the oats in a blender before you cook.

Every wonder the difference between baby oatmeal and regular oatmeal? This article explains it all! Also suggest what is the best oatmeal to give to your baby as a first food.

How to Prepare Steel Cut Oats for Baby

Another option is to cook the steel cut oats a little longer and add slightly more water to the pot. This should make the oats soft when cooked. Additionally, you can blend the cooked mixture with your favorite fruit to create a sweet fruit oatmeal puree.

What Type of Oatmeal We Use:

It becomes a personal preference whether you choose to use steel cut oats versus old-fashioned rolled oats.  

We use Bob’s Red Mill organic steel cut oats and organic rolled oats.

We also recently found Purely Elizabeth Superfood Oatmeal and we love this as a cereal option. Cereal and/or oatmeal is important in a baby’s diet because it’s a great source of iron.

Here is a super easy recipe I used for baby’s first oatmeal!

Save money by making your baby’s oatmeal at home. You can also avoid added preservatives by using organic steel cut oats or rolled oats.


3/4 cup water
1/4 cup steel cut oats
1/4 cup breastmilk or formula


Bring the water to boil in saucepan.
Add the steel cut oats.
Turn the heat to simmer and stir occasionally.
Cook for 15-20 minutes.
The longer you cook the oats the creamer they will become.
Take off heat and mix in breastmilk/formula.
Cool before serving.

Enjoy your baby oatmeal!

If you are worried about the texture you can blend the dry steel cut oats to a powder before you cook. Additionally, you can blend the cooked mixture with your favorite fruit to create a sweet fruit oatmeal puree.

Keeps in the refrigerator for 3-4 days in a tightly sealed jar.

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How do you make baby oatmeal?

Share your tips in the comments below!

The ultimate guide to feeding your baby oatmeal. Why you shouldn't start with rice cereal and what to do instead!

Disclosure: Google can be your best friend and your worst enemy as a new mommy.  There are so many opinions and theories out there! I believe you should do what is best for your baby and before you start any new food talk to your pediatrician.

This blog is not meant to replace medical advice (disclosure). I am just a mom who loves to research healthy living options and share them with my friends. 

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  1. I myself am not a huge fan of steel-cut so I always do old-fashioned rolled, which is also our 22 month old’s FAVORITE meal in the morning, but it’s interesting to hear the two compared and that they actually aren’t super different! Hope she enjoyed them. 🙂

    1. Hi Kayla – I’ve never frozen it myself, but I’ve heard you can keep it in the freezer for up to 6 months. If you want to error in the side of caution, 2 months?

  2. I was googling about starting my baby on steel cut oats and came across your blog. Love this post. Thanks so much!

  3. Hi Lauren,

    My baby is 5 months and I’ve been hesitant on feeding her. Do you recommend I give her veggies first then try the oatmeal?


  4. Baby books recommend rolled oats because they have already been steamed so it’s like they are partially cooked. This is easier for babies to digest.

  5. Hi thank you for this post. wondering if its okay to try Bob’s Red Mills oatmeal for my 7 month old. Also do i have to roast the oatmeal before i grind it to make it powdery?

    1. I would always check with your pediatrician before you start a new food. You can grind the oatmeal before hand to make it more powdery. You can also try cooking it longer than usual to make it extra soft.

  6. HI Lauren! This was helpful, but my main reason for commenting is that we have the exact bowl with running bunnies (and two plates) and it is such a favorite. I don’t see others with it very often. It was mine when I was little (and I’m now in my 30s!). Great blog.

  7. I use steel cut oats and a small 1 quart crock pot (Amazon) cook it with a rice milk or almond milk since I am allergic to dairy (not lactose but milk). By cooking over night it gets very creamy and the “milk” sweetens the oatmeal, also adding a couple of tablespoons of sugar maple syrup or honey (BABIES AND UP TO 2 YEARS CANNOT HAVE HONEY) Cinnamon also adds a sweetness too. I would try homemade applesauce, strained and unsweetened. I recommend the crockpot as an aid for 2 working parents, with complicated morning routines. It doesn’t scorch like on the stove and is very digestible. As for rice cereal buy a good organic one like Lundgrens. Or Barbara’s. Also Cream of wheat, Cream of rye maybe when a bit older. I was started on mashed bananas very early, to manage copious baby diarrhea ( raised on Evaporated milk, no one thought to check for dairy allergy) constant problems with diarrhea and vomiting for years,until an allergist tested for milk protein. Have you started yogurt yet?

    1. I started yogurt around 9 months of age, but definitely talk to your pediatrician before adding it in. I like the idea of cooking the oatmeal in the crock pot!

  8. Hello, is it necessary to add baby formula? My baby is 6 months old and on formula. If baby formula is not needed, would the ingredient measurements be changed? Also how many teaspoons or tabelspoons of this would u feed to a 6-month old?

    1. Hi Liza, you don’t have to add baby formula. You can use water instead. I liked adding in breastmilk to boost the calorie intake. I’d talk to your pediatrician’s office about amount of food your baby eats. At first, it is very small amounts as they are learning to “chew” and swallow. Start small like 1 tablespoon and work your way up.

  9. Very insightful blog. I have heard my sister talking a lot about how she feeds her daughter on True Elements Whole Oatmeal. She talks a lot about how it keeps her full for a great duration.

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