Making sure plant-based babes get enough iron through baby-led weaning can pose some challenges, but it’s not impossible! Here’s an easy way to help meet your plant-based baby’s iron needs using baby cereal in a non-traditional way.
One of the challenges of baby-led weaning with a plant-based baby is getting enough iron.
Baby-led weaning is an approach to starting solid foods that allows baby to lead the way. This is typically done as opposed to starting with purees, and research shows that baby-led weaning can help children develop a more positive and intuitive relationship with food.
Why? Foods must be provided in sizes and shapes that baby can grasp with his or her full palm. This makes many of the most common iron-rich plant-based foods like beans, grains, nuts, and seeds a no-go in their whole form.
That being said, it’s not impossible to meet baby’s iron needs through baby-led weaning on a plant-based diet. It just means that you need to get a little more creative!
That’s why we wanted to share this recipe with you. These iron-fortified baby cereal pancakes are one easy, scrumptious way to meet your babe’s needs for this critical nutrient.
We like Earth’s Best Organic Whole Grain Oatmeal Cereal for this recipe.
Given recent reports about glyphosate in conventional oats and arsenic concerns in rice products, we opt for organic, oat-based baby cereal as a safe, nutritious option for our little ones and their growing bodies and brains.
Tips for success
This recipe was updated in October 2021 based on reader feedback. The original recipe was very thick; after testing a few different rounds, we decided that adding more liquid to the batter created the best taste and texture. As the cereal absorbs liquid as it sits, you may need to add in additional liquid if the batter becomes too thick. We also swapped out the oat flour for whole wheat flour, which seems to hold together a little better.
That being said – these are not your typical pancakes. Don’t expect them to be light and fluffy. Due to the consistency of baby-cereal (it’s incredibly sticky), these pancakes are going to be crispy on the outside and gummy on the inside. Letting them cool for a good 5-10 minutes after pan-frying will help the inside come together better.
Because the batter is so sticky, these have a tendency to also stick to the pan. The only way to really prevent the stickiness would be to reduce the amount of baby cereal in these pancakes, but alas, if we reduce the ratio of baby cereal we then also reduce the iron content of the pancakes, which defeats the purpose of the recipe.
There are a couple of ways to reduce stickiness. One, we recommend using a stainless steel pan. We tried making these in three different kinds of pans – stainless steel, cast-iron, and ceramic non-stick – and they had the best non-stick success with the stainless steel.
Two, we recommend cooking these on medium heat with a lot of oil. Any medium-high heat oil will do such as olive, avocado, or coconut.
If your pancakes are still sticking, try cooking at a lower heat for a little longer and coaxing them off the pan with a stainless steel spatula.
Iron-Rich Baby Cereal Pancakes
- 3/4 cup iron-fortified baby oatmeal cereal
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds + 3 tablespoons warm water, gently mixed)
- 1 mashed banana
- 1 cup breast milk, formula, or water
- 2-3 tablespoons oil (avocado, olive, coconut)
- In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients: baby oatmeal, flour, baking powder, and cinnamon.
- In another bowl, combine wet ingredients: flax egg, mashed banana, and water or milk.
- Mix the wet and dry ingredients together. If your mixture is too dry, add a tablespoon or two of water.
- Heat oil over medium in a stainless steel pan.
- Spoon ~1/4 cup of batter per pancake onto pan and cook for about 4-5 minutes per side.* After you flip the pancake, press lightly down on the top to flatten to help cook through.
- For baby-led weaning, slice them into strips and serve to baby!
We like to serve these with a good source of vitamin C such as raspberries or strawberries to help maximize the absorption of iron.
For more nutrient-rich first food ideas for baby-led weaning, check out our ebook, First Bites.
Tell us in the comments:
- What are your favorite iron-rich foods to make for baby?
- Have you ever used baby cereal in other non-traditional ways for your kiddo?