Mama’s essentials – How to prepare porridge for baby

When it was time to introduce Zack to rice porridge, I was researching for ways to prepare this typical Asian baby staple for my little one. I tried out a few of the recipes found on the web, and after some tweaking and perfecting; I’m happy to share with all moms (and grandmoms) my fail proof method of cooking yummy porridge for your baby or toddler.

Preparing porridge in small quantities

When Zack familiarised himself with eating instant rice cereal, it was about time he was introduced to the real deal. At 7 months old he still couldn’t eat much, hence the real challenge here was to cook small portions of porridge without it getting burnt.

I first tried a method I picked up from another mom blogger, which was to wash the rice grains, dry it in a slow oven, ground it to powder form, and then cook it for 15-20 minutes stirring over low heat with a small amount of water. Although this may seem like the fastest way to make porridge, it didn’t give the sort of texture I was looking for. It looked and felt like really thick glue!

I continued to look for alternative means of preparing porridge in small quantities, and my mom suggested that I use a ceramic mug that’s meant for double boiling. With the help of this website, I used the recommended ratio of 1 portion of rice to 8 portions of water to get a pretty good consistency.

My mom also shared with me an important step when double boiling – I needed to ensure that I used hot, boiled water in both the crock pot and the ceramic mug. This step is essential in order to start the cooking process immediately as a slow cooker tends to take a longer time to come to a boil.  The water should cover the ceramic mug up to 80% of the way. This makes sure there is even distribution of heat (and cooking power) inside the mug.

Now, I’m using a slow cooker instead of a pot over a gas stove for 2 reasons. With the slow cooker, the heat is more even and constant, and because it does not come to a continuous boil, the ceramic mug does not need to be held in place with a towel / wire rack. Secondly, the slow cooker can be hooked up to a timer, making it an easy and safe way to prepare porridge. When cooking over the gas stove I noticed that when set at the lowest heat, the water still comes to a ferocious boil, making my ceramic mug “dance” around. I also very often have to replenish the water it is immersed in as it evaporates quite a lot.

Tip:

  • Try to keep water level at 70% if cooking over gas. You never know when water may seep into your ceramic mug, esp if it is bubbling constantly. If you have to you may use aluminium foil to cover the mug before closing the lid.
  • Cooking time with slow cooker – approx 3.5 to 4 hours
  • Cooking time over the gas stove at the lowest heat – approx 2 – 2.5 hours

Preparation is key

I am always looking for quick ways to get things done. When it comes to preparing bub’s porridge, I found that preparation is essential to making this mommy duty less of a chore (not that it’s a chore but there are days where I wish there’s some automated porridge maker, lol!). I am an advocate of freezing food—I love to prepare everything in large batches, and keep them stored and frozen in single servings.

For cooking small quantities of porridge, I use ice cube trays and food pots to store soup stocks and pureed vegetables. I use a milk powder scoop to measure the ingredients as I find that it’s a good size, and a pretty handy measuring tool (this is very important when you need to “level” the ingredients to get an accurate quantity). Here are my tried and tested measurements:

1 “milk powder scoop” of rice + 8 “milk powder scoops” of stock + 1 ice cube of pureed vegetable

Alternatively, to save space, you can also use ice cube trays to freeze measured stock (the ones pictured were purchased from Daiso, comes with a lid). I then keep these cubes in Ziploc bags to free up space in the fridge. Here’s the measurement if using stock in cubes:

1 “milk powder scoop” of rice + 3 ice cubes of stock (approx.  8 “milk powder scoops” of stock) + 1 ice cube of pureed vegetable

You can also use ikan bilis powder as an alternative to preparing stock. Simply soak cleaned ikan bilis to get rid of most of the saltiness, bake in the oven until crisp, and then grind into powder form. Add a pinch of this ikan bilis powder to your 8 “milk powder scoops” of plain water. A little goes a long way.

Preparing porridge in larger quantities

As Zack grew older, his appetite (and stomach) also grew bigger. I could now prepare his porridge directly in the slow cooker. All I had to do was simply measure out the ingredients, and put everything into the crock pot before I go to bed. I left it to the timer to switch the power on and off.

Just remember to keep to the tried and tested measurement which is the ratios of 1 portion of grain to 8 portions of water. For Zack, I prepare 2 servings of porridge for his lunch and dinner using the below measurements:

3 “milk powder scoops” of millet + 3 “milk powder scoops” of rice + 2 cubes of vegetables and 1 cube of meat (fish/chicken/pork) + 2 cups of water (approx. 500ml)

This measurement can yield exactly 2 cups of porridge (about 2 regular Chinese rice bowls).

Tip: As I leave all ingredients in the crockpot for 6 hours at room temperature, it is not neccesary to use hot, boiled water as the cooking process will not commence till later. I just use room temperature water. There are some concerns about whether the meat/vege will spoil while immersed in this room temperature water for 6 hours. I can safely say no as the ingredients start off as frozen blocks, plus it does take some time before fully defrosting. The kitchen is also relatively cool at night, hence the crockpot in itself remains cool and insulated until it is time to cook.

Timing is everything

I used my trusty timer (purchased from Ikea) which allowed me to leave my porridge making in auto-cruise.

I set it to start at point “1” every night at about the same time, combine all my ingredients, and let it sit (and soak) until the cooking process begins 6 hours later. I allow the porridge to cook for 4 hours before it switches off automatically.

Choice of ingredients suitable for porridge

You can be creative with the choice of ingredients you put into your bub’s porridge. Just remember the ratio of grains to water is always 1:8 (omg i sound like a broken record already)

Some grains I’ve experimented with are millet, lentils, split pea (dhall), oats and even alphabet pasta. You can substitute white rice with brown rice, and even add grains like quinoa. The combinations are endless!

The quantity of vegetables is also entirely up to you. I personally like to put in a ratio of 2:1 vegetables to meat.

Some vegetables which cook well in porridge include broccoli, pumpkin, carrot, peas, spinach, siew pak choy, cauliflower, potato and sweet potato. For younger babies, remember to pre-cook all vegetables and puree before storing. For older babies who can handle chunks, just chop the vegetables into small pieces and give it a quick mash before serving.

Tip: You can store chopped vegetables in a big Ziploc bags or in ice cube trays. If making into cubes, remember to pour a little water into the ice cube trays to help the vegetables “solidify” or else you’ll be handling a giant mess of vegetable crumbs when trying to remove them from the ice cube tray.

When using pork or chicken, make sure it’s finely minced. My mom helps with chopping it using her trusty cleaver. It has a better texture than working it through a food processor. As for fish, I just keep it sliced, as it’ll flake anyway when cooked. I freeze meat portions in a container, by separating it with cling wrap. You can also portion it out with an ice cube tray. Do whatever that floats your boat.

I hope you have found these tips useful (and helpful!) when preparing porridge for your baby! Happy Cooking!

 

Comments

  1. I’m so happy that you’re in charge of Zack’s meals – you do a fantastic job!

  2. IcedNyior says:

    Not that i’ll be cooking baby porridge anytime soon but any particular reason why you used “milk powder scoop” as a measurement?

  3. LOL

    Good question. I find it a good size, compared to the other spoons i have at home. The chinese soup spoon is too big, and the regular spoon is too hard to measure as it can get “heaped”. Logic ah?

  4. Great guide! I’ve always wondered is it ok to leave the food soaked in water for 6 hours, before cooking. Is it only if water is boiling hot?

  5. Good point leona

    i actually added a new tip into the post.
    I don’t use hot boiling water for cooking in large quantities, just room temperature. the raw ingredients will not spoil as it is frozen when added into the water and it does take sometime before it defrosts. it also helps that the kitchen is cooler in the night time, and the thickness of the crockpot acts as in insulator. Hope this helps!

  6. mummyliang says:

    Hi peichyi,

    Thank you for this! I’ve been rather lost on how I can cook porridge for my daughter.

    How long does it take for the porridge to be ready using the double boiling method? Do I put the ingredients (frozen cubes of cooked puree) together with the grains or when the porridge is almost ready?

  7. mummyliang says:

    Oh sorry another question – if I use the double boiling method but over the stove, does the water need to come up to 80% of the ceramic mug? Thanks!

  8. Hi mummyliang, thanks for your comments!

    Cooking time with double boiling over slow cooker would be at least 3 hours. I usually try to keep it in there until 4 hours. Remember you must use hot water both inside and outside so the cooking can start immediately.

    I like to put the cubes of pureed veges together with the rice grains, but because the pureed veges are cooked already anyway, you can add it in after the cooking process is done. This way it can also help to “cool” down the porridge if you need to feed immediately. Do this ONLY if the veges are fully cooked ya.

    As for cooking over the gas stove, the cooking time will be reduced, i’ve tried it before and i’ve managed to get a good consistency around 2 hours – 2.5 hours. This is because the lowest heat of the gas stove can emit more heat (gets to boiling point faster than slow cooker) thus the cooking time can be reduced. The downside is, you need to constantly check the level of the water, as it will evaporate quicker. I would suggest not putting the level of the water to 80% as the liquid does “bubble” and it may seep into your double boiler cup, and into your porridge! p/s: happened to me

    Hope i was of help!

  9. mummyliang says:

    Hi Peichyi,

    Thanks for answering so detailed! Really help. A few more questions just popped into my head (sorry!) – when using the double boiling method using slow cooker, do you set it to auto, high or low setting (my slow cooker only has these three settings)? Or on high with ikea timer?

    Sorry for bombarding you with questions, it will be my first time cooking porridge with a “don’t put me down or I’ll scream” baby at hand.

    Thank you Peichyi. =)

  10. LOL

    Your question is quite valid.

    Thing is, my slowcooker only has 2 modes, ON or OFF. So i think, perhaps u can try to go at Medium for a start? See if it boils furiously. I know my mother has a larger slow cooker which has a ferocious boil even at Medium setting! If so, then perhaps you could try to set it at Low.

    Hope your porridge will come out sedaps!!

  11. I also use this method for porridge – double boil. Been using it since my girls time and now my boy. Very handy la. Put everything in the morning, it will be ready by lunch time then warm it again for dinner. Perfect solution for a lazy mom like me :). Plus the texture always come out right if I get the measurement right that is :).

  12. Hi,

    I tried cooking the brown rice in the slow cooker but its nt sticky. Do you know why?
    Thanks

  13. Hi Mandy,

    Sorry i missed your comment!

    Perhaps there was too much liquid? i do soak the rice before cooking, it does help with softening the grains, considering brown rice is unpolished.

  14. J's mummy says:

    Thanks so much for sharing I have never cooked porridge for my boys before so I was so relieved to read your blog you’ve made it so simple plus thank goodness you r into freezing cos it really makes life easier for busy mums. btw, how do u make the chicken stock?

  15. thanks for dropping by!

    for the chicken stock, you can just put in chicken carcass, and boil with water. Skim off the tops, icky foam and then store in cubes.
    You can make the stock more flavourful with carrots and onion.

  16. J's mummy says:

    Wow thanks so much for your prompt reply I will give this a try. :))

  17. Hi I thought double boiling is using steam to cook the food? Ie the water in the big pot does not touch the small pot (that contains the food)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_boiling

  18. Hi, I’m so glad I found your guide!
    Can you help me with the following qns I have:
    1) My boy is 6mths + now, and I’m thinking to prepare porridge for him when he is 7mths+. How much of rice should I use for 1 meal? 2 “milk” powder scoops, the small kind? And that relates to 16 scoops of water?
    2) I don’t freeze any puree/vegetables. I intend to use fresh ingredients. When should I put in the chopped vegetables? I heard letting ingredients boil together with the rice will result in the ingredients losing their nutrients? But I need the ingredients to be “nua nua” to feed my boy.
    3) I have a smaller sized 1.2 litres slow cooker. If I prepare the porridge direct in this slow cooker, it will be hard also right? Since portion is small. That means if I use the boiling method, I will have to use the big slow cooker?

    Thanks!

  19. When you double boil, esp over long period of time, it will steam cook the food yes, but its a gentler way to cook compared to direct steaming. You don’t have to keep adding water and u can cook on low heat Hope this helps

  20. Sorry i missed your comments!
    Here are my responses:

    1) use any milk powder scoop you have, and follow the ratio of 1 scoop rice to 8 scoops of water. If u make 2 scoops it will be enough for 2 meals.
    2) depending on what vegetables you use, stuff like pumpkin and carrot will mush up nicely when u boil it over a long time. If you are cooking it in the porridge all the juices will be contained in there. I don’t know what scientific evidence would lead to loss of nutrients but babies with no teeth will definitely need texture to be pureed or else its hard for them to swallow.
    3) i have the small cooker which i use a really small double boiler, u can get the ones which ppl use to “dan” ginseng tea, it’s a small crock cup with 2 lids just like the one i used in my photos.

    All the best!

  21. Karina Yong says:

    Hi,

    I just wanted to tell you that you are a genius! Excellent porridge in small amounts, perfect!:) my older boy chose the baby led weaning way so your advise has been a real treasure to me. Thanks!

  22. Hey Karina!

    Thanks for dropping by my blog. hope you’re able to perfect porridge making for your little ones!

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