Baby led weaning oatmeal fingers: a simple recipe for your 6 month old baby

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Ready to have your breakfast and snack woes come to an end? Enter oatmeal fingers! Oatmeal is a great food for babies, but when it comes to baby led weaning, we all know how messy that can be! 

Oatmeal in finger shape helps minimize mess, creates a perfect travel snack when rushing out the door, and they only take a few minutes to make in the microwave. Not to mention they’re high in fiber, nutritionally dense, inexpensive, and contain iron. They’re basically the perfect breakfast for 6 month olds and up!

Table of Contents

I was first introduced to baby oatmeal bars about 4 years ago when one of my best friends from university came to visit me from across the country, and she blew my mind with what she called “eat your oatmeal anywhere” fingers. I was so confused at first, until she showed me the simple magic that could be created with a microwave and as few as two ingredients.

Basically, it’s rolled oats mixed with a liquid ingredient (dairy or almond milk, mashed banana, yogurt, etc.) so that the oats cook and bind to the liquid. Once set, they form these perfect little oatmeal bars, or fingers, that can have endless variations, be eaten warm or cold, make great leftovers, and can be taken anywhere.

Well, you can guess where my mind immediately went with these. All I could think of was “What a great way for babies to eat oatmeal without all the mess!”.

Oatmeal for babies made into porridge fingers.

Now, don’t get me wrong, you know we LOVE messy food experiences for babies, and actually encourage it when possible. This helps them get really up close and personal with food using all five senses. That being said, you’re not always going to have time, or want, to get messy at every meal. Especially when you’re in a rush, too tired to clean it up, or out on the go (all valid!). 

With oatmeal fingers, they’re shaped perfectly for a baby to pick up – sturdy and able to hold its shape, long enough to poke out of baby’s hands so they can get it into their mouth, and soft enough as a first food for your baby!

We’ve experimented with a variety of different recipes – all so good! We’ve included some of our favorites in our 60 day baby led feeding meal plan, but for now, we thought we’d share the basic recipe here for you and let you experiment with any flavors and ingredients you have at home.

When are baby oatmeal bars safe to serve?

Porridge fingers served with strawberries, ripe banana, and blueberries.

The quick answer is that oatmeal fingers are safe to serve with baby led weaning as soon as your baby is ready to start solids – they could even be their very first food! 

Oats are packed full of nutrients and a great source of energy for your baby. Oats contain minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium that are all essential for development. Oats are a great high fiber baby food, which is beneficial for digestion and promotes proper bowel movements, without being too harsh on their digestive system.

Serving oatmeal to babies 6 months plus as porridge fingers.

Babies are ready to start solids around 6 months of age – however, every baby is unique and may not show all readiness signs for starting solids at the age of 6 months. It could be a couple weeks before or after, but it’s less about age and more about what your baby can do! 

Read more about the best time to start solids (based on signs of readiness) for updated recommendations, and a full list of developmental signs to check off before your baby begins.

Easy baby breakfast for baby led weaning; baby eating in a high chair.

What's the best type of oatmeal for baby?

You may be wondering if quick cook oats or rolled oats or steel cut oats are better for making baby oatmeal fingers. Basically, quick cook oats and baby oatmeal actually both start off as old fashioned rolled oats, but they’re chopped into much smaller and thinner pieces! Each of these options will provide different textures for your baby to experience.

The old fashioned rolled oats will provide a more chewy texture, compared to the quick oats, which will provide a smoother texture that’s not as chewy. If you’re just starting your baby led weaning journey, using quick cook oats may be the best option!

Various oat options including old fashioned oats, quick oats, and steel cut.

It’s important to note that some instant oats are highly processed and contain high amounts of added sugar (especially if already flavored). It’s best to avoid giving your baby instant oatmeals sweetened with sugar, so be sure to check the nutrition facts table on the products you purchase! The best option is to buy plain old, regular oats for your baby, and add your own natural flavors from fruits, vegetables, and spices.

Steel cut oats are not recommended until approximately 10 to 12 months of age, due to the harder texture. They’re also not recommended for this recipe as they take much longer to cook and do not provide the same texture as old fashioned or quick oats.

Baby oatmeal vs. regular "adult" oatmeal

Plain oatmeal in a bowl has many nutritional benefits for babies.

Did you know that there’s really no need for baby oatmeal cereal (or any infant cereal) at all? You can still offer your baby these, but they aren’t the only option. Starting around 6 months of age, you can offer regular “adult” oatmeal as well! 

The reason for offering infant versions of any cereal, including rice cereal, oatmeal cereal or any other type of cereal, such as mixed grains, etc., is because they’re fortified with iron, a very important nutrient for babies. But, if you’re offering baby 2 sources of high iron foods per day, there’s no need to rely on infant cereals for iron (especially if you’re formula feeding). And there’s no danger from a nutritional or choking perspective if babies eat oatmeal cereal marketed for adults.

High-iron infant cereal in a bowl.

Disclaimer: If you prefer to offer your baby high-iron baby oatmeal, specifically for infants, you’ll have to do a trial run as this oatmeal fingers recipe hasn’t been tested with baby oatmeal cereal. (It also wasn’t tested with any homemade oatmeal cereal recipes, so if that’s something you make, you’ll need to test it!) 

It’s recommended that you prepare your baby’s oatmeal with milk (not water), as babies need lots of calories, healthy fats, and nutrients for optimal growth. Breast milk or formula are both great options when preparing oats for babies, as well. As your toddler grows and no longer drinks breast milk or formula, you can use any milk of choice to prepare your oatmeal fingers.

How to serve oatmeal to babies; oatmeal bars made with berries, chia seeds, and choice of milk such as coconut milk or oat milk.

Ingredients for oatmeal fingers for babies

All you need for these super simple oatmeal fingers are two basic ingredients: oats and milk. The other ingredients are optional and you can use whatever you already have on hand!

Rolled oats

Uncooked, rolled oats.

Quick oats, or instant rolled oats, are recommended as they provide the best texture (not too hard and not too mushy), have a short cooking time, and are extremely versatile. Keep in mind that the cooking time for oats will differ for each microwave. Steel cut oats are not recommended for this recipe, as mentioned above.

Milk

Toddler drinking milk in their high chair.

You can choose breast milk, formula, dairy milk or your favorite plant-based milk. If you’re unsure of what type of milk to choose for your baby, check out our blog on how to choose the best type of milk for your baby and toddler. This blog includes a nutritional comparison of various types of milk, detailed descriptions, and suggestions! 

Also, please remember that cow’s milk and some plant-based milks (like almond and soy) are all top allergens. Therefore, if this will be your baby’s first food, or first time with that allergen, be sure to offer that same allergen the following day to rule out any reactions. Read our blog on introducing allergens for the full protocol!

Fruits & veggies (optional but provides more nutrients and flavor!)

High-fiber foods to add to plain porridge fingers for flavor exposure and a nutritional boost.

Anything you have on hand will do for these oatmeal fingers for babies, but this is an excellent opportunity to add in some high-fiber foods. Some of the best fiber-rich foods for little ones can be found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables. The options really are endless, so have fun with different flavors and combinations!

Spices (optional but exposes your baby to new flavors!)

Ground cinnamon in a pile and cinnamon sticks.

We always recommend adding spices to your baby’s food, right from the beginning. Adding spices to your oatmeal fingers is a perfect way to expose your baby to new flavors! 

Plus, exposing your baby to a variety of herbs and spices, at an early age, may help minimize picky eating as they grow. Learn more about why we recommend adding spices to your baby’s food.

Super seeds (optional but adds a nutritional boost!)

Hemp, flax and/or chia seeds provide excellent nutritional boosters to this simple snack or breakfast for babies. Adding seeds to your oatmeal fingers will provide your baby with fiber, omega-3’s, iron, and many more nutrients. They’re also a natural way to prevent constipation for babies and toddlers – thanks to their abundance of fiber!

Toddler "sprinkles" including hemp seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds.

Listen to our podcast episode on the nutritional power of super seeds for your baby and toddler to learn more. In this episode, I chat with some special guests – the founders of Tiny Sprouts Foods! Tiny Sprouts has formulated seed mixes for babies and toddlers to help them meet their nutritional needs. 

If you want to try some of these amazing super seed blends, use the code MYLITTLEEATER to get 10% off your purchase!

Oatmeal fingers for picky eaters

Do you have a picky eater on your hands? The endless variations of flavor combinations, and the fun colors you can make oatmeal fingers turn with just a few ingredients, make this baby breakfast perfect for toddlers and picky eaters too!

Various flavors of oatmeal fingers for picky eaters.

We get it. We know it can be frustrating, and time consuming, to offer a picky toddler new snacks. You may avoid offering new snacks because you don’t want your toddler to take one bite and waste the rest. But that’s why oatmeal fingers are so great! They’re so quick and easy to prepare (minutes!) that if your toddler rejects them, you at least haven’t wasted tons of time in the kitchen. Then, the next time you prepare oatmeal fingers, you can try a different variation that your toddler may love! 

They’re also perfect for helping toddlers who already love basic, bland cereals, or traditional oatmeal bowls, expand the types of foods and flavors they eat. This is achieved through a concept called food chaining where you take a food your child likes, and modify it slightly so it’s a little different…but not too different!

Oatmeal bowl topped with blueberries, banana, and chia seeds.

So in this case, you’re changing the way it’s presented (shape) from a purée to a finger food format! You can also take a plain oatmeal finger, and ever so slightly change the flavor by adding in a mix-in like a bit of fruit (such as mashed banana), super seeds (like hemp or chia seeds), nut butter (like almond butter or cashew butter), or spices (such as cinnamon).

If this concept is new to you, listen to our podcast episode with an expert to learn everything you need to know about food chaining for your picky eater.

Baby led weaning oatmeal fingers for an easy baby breakfast.

Plus, we have one more tip for you! Since they’re cut into the perfect “finger” shape, you know what that means…they’re perfect for dipping! Try serving your oatmeal fingers with applesauce or plain yogurt as a dipping sauce to add a little fun to your picky eater’s breakfast or snack. 

For a complete plan on how to prevent or overcome picky eating in toddlerhood, and beyond, check out our Feeding Toddlers online course!

The many benefits of oatmeal fingers for babies

Porridge fingers plated with fruit to serve to baby.
  • Super fast and easy to prepare, nutritious, and delicious!
  • Inexpensive ingredients that can provide your baby with iron and fiber!
  • Modifiable based on the baby’s preferences, allergies, or sensitivities.
  • Exposure to new textures, flavors, and food experiences.
  • Easy for your baby to pick up, hold, and self-feed unlike traditional methods of serving oatmeal for babies.
  • A perfect travel snack for anytime or place, or a quick, nutritious breakfast for an impatient, hungry baby!
  •  

Baby-friendly flavor combinations

Baby led weaning oatmeal fingers in various flavors.
  • Mixed berry (strawberries/blueberries/raspberries) 
  • Pineapple and coconut 
  • Carrot and zucchini 
  • Spinach and banana 
    • To achieve a bright green oatmeal finger, add ⅓ cup of milk, 1 tablespoon of banana, and 2 tablespoons of fresh spinach to a blender, then add the mixture to ½ cup of quick oats
Four flavors of porridge fingers on a plate.

How to make oatmeal fingers

This is probably the easiest, most versatile recipe you’ll ever make, and there’s a pretty good chance you’ll always have oats and milk on hand to make it! 

This recipe will yield 3-4 fingers, per batch. We like to cut them so they’re just 2-3″ long – long enough for your baby to hold but not too long that they break apart easily. 

You can store them in an airtight container in the fridge as leftovers for about 3 days. If you’d like to soften them up a bit before serving again, you can soak them in a bit of milk in a bowl for a few seconds before re-serving.

The ingredients needed to make porridge fingers for babies.

Step one

Start by measuring out and preparing your ingredients. Then, together in a bowl, or on a large plate, add oats and milk.

Step two

This is the fun part! You get to decide what goes into your baby’s oatmeal fingers. Be creative and feel free to share your flavor combinations with us, we’d love to see them!

Step three

Mix all of the ingredients together until they’re well incorporated. You’ll want your ingredients to be spread out evenly in each of your oatmeal fingers.

Step four

On a flat plate or microwavable dish, lightly flatten the oatmeal mixture with the back of a spoon onto the plate. Pack it together well, creating a square shape that will be thick enough to cut into fingers.

BLW oatmeal fingers recipe.

Step five

Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes (cooking times will differ for each microwave). You should check them after the first two minutes to see if the mixture is cooked and is firm enough that everything is bound together.

Note: It will firm up more after cooling, so don’t let it dry out too much!

Let the square-shaped oatmeal mixture sit and cool for 5-10 minutes, then cut into fingers! The longer it sits to cool, the more sturdy and firm the oatmeal fingers will be.

Baby led weaning oatmeal fingers, the final step of the recipe.

Tips for getting the perfect BLW oatmeal finger

Tip #1: Depending on if you’re adding an add-in with higher water content (ie. berries) or not, you may want to reduce the amount of milk slightly, or increase cooking time.

Tip #2: If you find that it sticks to the plate, place a piece of parchment paper on the plate before spreading the mixture over it. Once cooked, slide the parchment paper onto a cooling rack, let it cool, and then flip the parchment paper over and peel it off the oatmeal fingers.

Tip #3: Try baking a larger batch in the oven on a baking sheet. Spread it out over the whole sheet to be able to easily cut it into strips. We haven’t tested this before, so let us know how it goes if you try it! If you have more than one kiddo at home, this can be a great way to get a couple of days of homemade bars for daycare lunches, school lunches, or snacks at home.

Different flavors of porridge fingers, ingredients can include: shredded coconut, carrot, or zucchini, mixed berries, vanilla extract, seed butter, or nut butter.

Have you tried these before? What are your favorite flavors? Give the recipe 5 stars if you loved it and let us know your fav flavor combination in the comments!

And don’t forget about our 60 Day Baby Led Feeding Meal Plan – get over 80 recipes to try out when starting solids! Follow along with the plan to strategically introduce allergens, advance your baby in textures, and ensure all nutrient needs are being met. It also comes with weekly grocery lists and feeding and nutrition tips along the way!

Baby led weaning oatmeal fingers.

Easy Baby Led Weaning Oatmeal Fingers

This is the perfect recipe for serving oatmeal to babies (and the whole family!). Great for baby led weaning babies, snacks on-the-go, and picky eater approved too!
4.74 from 42 votes
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 4 minutes
Resting Time 10 minutes
Total Time 16 minutes
Course Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 4 fingers

Equipment

  • 1 plate (microwave-safe)
  • Microwave

Ingredients
  

  • ½ cup quick cook oats
  • cup milk of choice (breastmilk, formula, dairy milk, or alternative)
  • 1-2 tbsp favorite mix-ins
  • Spices to taste

Instructions
 

  • Measure out and prep your ingredients.
  • Combine milk and oats in a bowl or on a large plate. Let the oats sit in the milk for 3-5 minutes, until slightly softened.
  • Add in your favorite mix-ins and mix well until ingredients are incorporated throughout.
  • Lightly flatten the mixture onto a microwave-safe plate, and use the back of a spoon to form it into a square, packing it together well.
  • Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes, checking after 2 minutes to see if it's cooked through and firm enough to remove. Please note that it will continue to firm up as it cools, so don't let it dry out.
  • Set aside to cool and continue to firm up for another 5-10 minutes. Cut into finger shapes and enjoy!

Video

Notes

Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge.
Please note that cooking times may vary depending on your microwave.
Keyword baby breakfast, egg free, family breakfast, nut free
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Oatmeal fingers for babies, an easy BLW breakfast.
Picture of Edwena Kennedy, RD

Edwena Kennedy, RD

Founder and lead Registered Pediatric Dietitian at My Little Eater Inc., creator of The Texture Timeline™, and mom of two picky-turned-adventurous eaters.

Picture of Edwena Kennedy, RD

Edwena Kennedy, RD

Founder and lead Registered Pediatric Dietitian at My Little Eater Inc., creator of The Texture Timeline™, and mom of two picky-turned-adventurous eaters.

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13 Comments

  • Can you mix purées for flavoring? Like banana purée baby food instead of mashed banana? Apple? Etc. I have wic and have sooooo much baby food purées she won’t eat so I incorporate them however I can and thought this would be perfect for that.

    Reply
    • I would think so! Just add a little less milk maybe since it’s liquidy

      Reply
      • Yes, you could but as others mentioned it will be more liquidy so you likely will have to decrease the milk, or maybe even remove it depending on how thin the puree is you’re adding. We haven’t tested it, so if you do let us know how it goes 🙂

        Reply
  • Should I chop the blueberries up? Usually for BLW if serving raw, they need to be smashed. My son is 9m. Also if using frozen, do I let them thaw first?

    Reply
    • Yes, you can quarter the blueberries so there aren’t any whole ones in there. And I would recommend letting them thaw or the frozen blueberries may add too much moisture while coooking.

      Reply
  • Do you think I could do these on a cookie sheet and bake them? I try to meal prep for my twins as much as possible and it would be great to have a big batch in the freezer

    Reply
      • Yes definitely! We haven’t tested it though so we don’t have a temp. or time frame to give you, but if you try it let us know how it goes 🙂

        Reply
        • I did 10 minutes at 350F and checked them, if they still look a bit wet I added a few more minutes. I’m trying out a “bar” cookie sheet today, might change the timing!

          Reply
  • I love the idea of this but you lost me at microwave… any way to do this in the oven?

    Reply
    • You could, we just haven’t tested it to have a temp. or time-frame to give you, but if you try it let us know how it goes 🙂

      Reply
  • 1 star
    Really disappointed with the results. Baby couldn’t eat it because it was rock hard and stuck to the plate.

    Reply

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meet edwena

Registered pediatric dietitian, mom of two picky-turned-adventurous eater, and the creator of the Texture Timeline™ – an exclusive tool to help move your baby through easy to more advanced purees and finger foods to prevent picky eating.

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