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 PancakesPrint Recipe
- 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?
How many does this make, and if I use breastmilk how long will they keep in the refrigerator?
My daughter is allergic to oats. Is there any other flour you’d recommend?
Any other flour should work
Rose Black says
My babes hate bananas, what can I sub for that?
I’m not sure as the bananas really add body and texture to the pancakes. I haven’t tried it but I’d recommend either leaving it out and/or increasing the chia egg to two to bind the pancakes together.
I’ve subbed sweet potatoes for bananas with good results.
Thanks for letting us know!
I can’t get mine to look this pretty. They never really set in the middle and as soon as I pull them from the pan the fall as thin as can be.
Yes, you have to be VERY careful with them. They firm up more once they cool down. If you can’t flip them though, try adding more oat flour and less cereal.
Can these be made in a waffle iron as well?
Yes they can!
Can this be made with flax eggs instead? Is there any issue with flax for a 9 month old?
No issues with flax eggs for 9 months old and yes, it should work!
Is this a recipe you would give to a 7 month old?
Yes! Would give this to a 7 month old.
Can these be frozen? Thank you
Do these freeze well?
They freezer well if you first individually quick-freeze, then place in a freezer safe container!
Are these okay to give to a 6 month old? I’m not sure just how basic I need to be starting him on solids!
Yes! We gave these to our 6 month olds.
Christina p says
How many little pancakes do you get out of this?
Hi. Can I use a normal egg instead of a chia egg?
Rochelle Redmayne says
What consistency should the batter be?
Jennifer Cove says
These are good, and my son likes them BUT they are hard to make into pancakes. I now make them into mini muffins! 15 minutes or so at 350 F. Much easier and they freeze well.
Thanks for the tip! I found them really difficult to make into pancakes as well so I’ll try making them into muffins!
I was so looking forward to making these, but despite following the instructions completely they kept either sticking to the pan or not quite setting. I tried this in 3 different pans with varying amounts of oil to grease the pan and each time the pancakes failed 🙁
Are there any other recipes I can try to cook easy finger foods with baby oatmeal?
These turned out horribly. I followed the recipe to a T and the batter was a suuuuupppper thick paste. I added water to thin it because it was not the consistency of regular pancake batter. Following a question in this thread, I tried them in the waffle maker – it stuck and I spent too much time scraping the caked batter. I also tried in regular pancake shape and they’re just not. cooking. I see the suggestion for the mini muffins, but my baby is 6 months so the muffin shape is not yet quite ideal for him. Any suggestions?! 🙂
This recipe also didn’t work for me!
I will try to bake them.
Can you swap out all oat flour for iron-fortified baby oat cereal?
You can use all oat flour but you can’t use all oat ceraal– it will be too gummy.
Natalie S, says
Can you swap out all oat flour for iron-fortified baby oat cereal?
No, it will make these too gummy.
Can you use the oatmeal baby cereal in place of the regular oat flour as well?
No, all baby cereal will make these too gummy.
Laura Reff says
Hi! FTM New to the PBJ community, and I love this amazing resource! I’m wondering if baking powder/ baking soda is OK for my 8 month old. Any feedback would be much appreciated.
Could not get these to cook properly as pancakes or muffins. Pancakes burned on outside and didn’t cool through in middle, even with heat turned down and longer cooking. Tried as mini muffins and even 30 minutes in oven they were too wet on the inside. I had to throw it all out. I liked the idea of this but it did not work out for us.
My little one loves these! I was wondering if you have tried making them with some powdered peanut butter added?
We haven’t tried that yet! If you do, let us know how it works.
My son LOVED these! Thank you so much for the great recipe!!
Do you have an iron fortified cereal that you recommend? Thanks!
Whitney used Earth’s Best oat cereal!
I’ve been making these everyday for my girls. They love them! I’ve tried them with apple sauce vs. banana. They turned out great. I’ve put chia seeds in, still delicious! Also, I prefer the while grain flour. It works well with the 3/4 fortified cereal
Did anyone try doing these in a waffle iron?
Turned out perfect, and I’m sure my girl will love them when she’s past this current teething episode… only small nibbles for now. I used coconut oil to fry, and my batter consistency was still pretty thick so nowhere near falling apart as i fried (something I see others dealing with). That said i did have to spread the batter with the back of a apoon when i first placed it in the pan. Also, i had no ripe bananas, so the one I used was relatively firm. Used the recommended baby cereal. I enjoyed them lol