Saturday, August 25, 2012

No-Fuss Baby Porridge for Busy Mom 简易婴儿米粥


Being a full time working mom with 2 little ones, week day morning is always hush hush time, cooking mushy porridge for my baby girl seems like a real challenge if I need to be early and beat the morning traffic.

Instead of cooking in a rush in the morning, I decided to use slow cooker to slowly cook the porridge overnight. After trying for 2 nights, I finally find the right method that works.

Pumpkin and sweet potato porridge, soft and mushy

Here's how.

Preparation time: 5 min
Cooking Time: 6 hours
Serving size: 2 small bowls
Suitable for: 8 months onwards=

1 palmful or 1/4 cup of rice (adjust according to your baby's eating portion)
3 rice bowls of hot water
1 cup vegetables, cut into big wedges (refer below on possible choices of vegetables)

The Steps:
1. Soak the rice in water for 20 minutes so it's soften. Put the rice into the slow cooker, fill with 3 bowls of hot water. Add the cut vegetable, make sure they are covered with water.

2. Set temperature to "High" and let it cook for 30 minutes.

3. Turn to "Low" temperature, let porridge cook overnight for about 6 hours (note: "Low" is different from "Auto" mode).

A soft and mushy porridge will be waiting for you the next morning. Just lightly crush the vegetables with the back of the ladle. I usually cook the porridge at around 11:30pm, switch to low temp 30min later and by 6:30am - 7am I'll just turn off the cooker.

Store the porridge immediately into vacuum food jar and it shall be good to keep for 6-8 hours, depending what type of food jar you used. Rinsing the food jar with hot water before storing the porridge helps to extend the keep warm duration. 

When feeding, scope just enough in a clean bowl, do not reheat unfinished portion or overnight porridge to serve to baby as you won't want to risk feeding your little one contaminated food.

You can mix and match the following (remember to apply the 3-days rule when introducing new food). All portions are roughly chopped unless mentioned otherwise:

  • Pumpkin / butternut

  • Broccoli stem (finely chopped)

  • Sweet Potatoes

  • Carrots

  • Potatoes

  • Sweet Peas (finely chopped)

  • Asparagus stems (peeled and finely chopped)

  • Onion (finely chopped)

  • Green or Red Cabbage (finely chopped)

  • Celery (peeled and finely chopped) - use sparingly

  • Long beans (finely chopped)

  • Tofu (bean curd), finely chopped

  • Note: above are the vegetables that I had tried personally hence I add them in the list, you may include other ingredients of your choice, for example I have friends who add mushrooms, corns, butternut, peas etc for their little ones' meal.

    I usually mix 2-3 vegetables of different colors in a single cooking for mixture of nutrition, no salt or sauce added. If you would like some natural flavoring for the porridge, you may add pre-washed anchovies when cooking or add half a tea spoon of this homemade anchovies powder when feeding. Do avoid using ready stock cube as those usually contain preservative and MSG.

    You may read here to understand why adding of salt and sauces are not recommended for young infant.

    For first time parent, do read about the Feeding Essential for Little Ones before you start your shopping spree... :)

    Lesson about Fish Porridge...
    After baby past 8 months old, I introduced fish into her diet. I have tried adding fish into her porridge and cook with the above method, and I would advise DO NOT USE  this method for fish. Firstly, fish only requires short cooking time (about 5 minutes) and by storing it in food jar it has a fishy smell that I really dislike;  I doubt babies would like that too.

    So I have changed my approach. Instead of cooking the porridge for baby everyday, I prepare the ingredient for daily portion and past it to the care taker. This way, I know exactly what my baby is eating and can ensure she has balance intake of nutrients.

    On The Go?
    When bringing baby to the care-taker's house before work, or bringing her out for a short visit, I'll just pack everything i need into a keep warm food carrier, simple and sleek looking! 

    As seen here: Food jar, BPA safe food container and feeding spoon and bib, all in a trendy looking, insulated food carrier.

    This Fuel food warmer carrier with all the feeding stuff I need

    Sharing with Parents and Caretaker...
    I will always taste the porridge to find out if it taste nice and if the texture is just right for baby. Don't just follow books or advices blindly, find out for yourself what works best for your precious little one (at least this is what I believe).

    Feeding variety of food in earlier age will avoid a picky eater, this will also ensure your little one absorbs balanced nutrients during their growing years.

    Besides, some wonder why I only used the broccoli stem and not the florets? Well, I avoid florets for my baby due to the fear of any pesticide residues. You may choose to include the florets if you are certain on the  source of broccoli. It's probably just me being extra cautious. :)

    Happy feeding!


    1. Hi I read your recipes with interest. You're so creative and such a good cook. Seek your advise. My 8mo doesn't like porridge but loves pasta. Right now I'm using ingredients for porridge to make soup to go with it. Can you suggest some pasta sauce recipes and any other way I can let him have variety with his pasta? Thanks a lot.

    2. Thanks May for your kind content, I'm glad to share my experience as I was once a rather lost mother when it comes to baby food :)

      Personnally I am not in a hurry to introduce cheese to baby below 1 yo (fear of allergic reaction which I recall happened to my nephew years ago). To serve pasta, there are tiny organic alphabet pasta available in major shopping mall or the Organic Farm
      Store. I just cook them in vegetable stock to serve instead of cream sauce or tomato puree sauce. I had a simple reciple for homemade tomato sauce pasta but i serve that to my boy only when he was 1+ year old and I added some brown sugar to balance the sourness of the tomatoes. You may search under "Pasta" groups.

    3. Ops, *comment not content. And sorry for the late reply as I usually only have time to update my blog on weekends :)

    4. Hi, I come across your blog when I am searching on how can I cook congee my little gal who is going to be 8 months old. I am also a working mum like you thus I am wondering how I can cook congee for her and store it for lunch and dinner.

      Do you think normal rice cooker with congee function will work? I'm also afraid that baby may not be able to eat congee with lumps since she eats puree food.

      Any advice? :)


      1. Hi Adeline,

        I have not tried cooking congee overnight with my rice cooker, it's 5 Liter so quite an overkill to cook such a small portion of porridge. However, it should work as most rice cooker nowadays have Keep Warm function, you can do a trial on weekend just to find out if it works. :)

        Alternatively, you may a magic pot, just cook the porridge on stove for 10 minutes and leave it overnight in the magic pot,'comes out nice and soft, and best of all it does not requires electricity at all.

        To ensure the porridge is soft and mushy, soak it at least 30 minutes.
        That usually work.


    5. Hi. Am glad was introduced to your blog. I am a first time mum & totally clueless on how or what to feed my LO. She is turning 9 months soon & only recently that I was able to feed her without turning into a crying session. Anyway you mentioned you don't add the fish in the beginning; so when do you add? And how about mince chicken? TIA ,
      Cheers LW

    6. Hi LW, glad that you find my blog useful. I introduced fish to my baby girl from 8th months onward, as it took me about 2 months to introduce the veggies one by one on 3 days gap (for observation of allergy symptom). Minced meat was introduced much later, I.e 1 year onward when she has more teeth and prefer chewable food. I know many would have included it earlier for added flavor into the porridge, however I personally did not rush into that. I added minced chicken / pork, eggs and cheese from 12 months onward. You may try them earlier if you wish, just watch out for allergy symptoms.

      1. Hi PH thanks for your prompt reply. What I meant to ask was when do you add the fish (meat) into the porridge. Do you add the last hr of cooking? You also mentioned that fish gives a fishy smell in the thermos; so how do you avoid it. Sorry I wasn't clear with my query. Thanks so much

      2. I see, misunderstood your first question :)
        I steamed or fried the separately and kept them in a small BPA safe container, only add them into the porridge (from the thermos) when it's feeding time. That was my weekend arrangement. As for weekday, I just pre-packed all the fresh ingredients and passed to the care taker to cook fresh for my baby daily. She will cook the porridge in morning (for 2 meals), and add the fish meats to cooking for another 5 minutes before serving. That way, the porridge will not smell.
        Besides, adding slices of gingers helps too.

        Hope this helps :)

    7. Hi, I was came across your blog while searching for home made noodles. Love your blog so much as you do have a very nice recipe that can fit all the toddlers. Will try out one by one every week. :)

      Would like to check with you, for the above porridge recipe, you were saying 3 bowls of hot water, may I know how big is the bowl and for the hot water is it in room temperature?

      My youngest son is 18 month old. Until now he still do not like to eat porridge, rice nor noodle. Not even mention about other dishes such as fish, chicken, vege and etc. We try all the methods to feed him, he will just spit out and cry and run away.
      Found that he likes to eat soft food as he likes smoothie. But I always failed to cook a soft and non sticky porridge. Hope that your this recipe can help.
      *I am real worry about him now of not taking enough nutrition. He only take breast milk. *

      And thanks for your yummy recipe. :)

      1. Hi there, thanks for the encouraging words, the recipes I had are mostly based on trial and error, still have room for improvement as I am not a trained chef, just one enthusiastic mom like many of you. I do hope your little ones enjoy the food prepared with the recipes here :)

        For the above recipe I used standard porcelain Chinese rice bowl, as cooking using slow cooker retain most of the water in the pot. Just a suggestion, if your LO likes soft food, perhaps you can try serving creamy pasta such as macaroni and cheese.

    8. Hihi,
      I have tried to use thermal pot before to cook the porridge. As I am cooking for only one meal, the portion for the porridge is very little.I cooked the porridge in the morning and at 4 plus, I check out on the porridge, it has become cold in the thermal pot. Thus, I have to reheat the porridge on stove before serving my girl. Do you have this problem before?

      1. Hi Hui Ling, I tried thermal pot (or magic pot) before, as I mentioned above I cooked for 15 min and leave it overnight till next morning, total about 6-8 hours, it was warm and mushy. I recall reading that the thermal pot will loses heat over the time, perhaps you may refer to the instruction book to check the recommended duration. I used the thermal pot on 3 days trial only, did not use it since coz my hub does not like the soup make using the thermal pot.

    9. So basically it's veggies n rice right? I tried cooking porridge w carrots, but it's so tasteless that bb refuses to take it.

      1. Carrots are sweet naturally, otherwise you can try to add pumpkin or sweet potato. But if this is served as early food the infant should not be so picky over less flavoring. For older baby (8months onwards) you can try using fish or chicken stock to cook the porridge instead.

    10. If you did not soak the rice before putting in slow cooker, what will you do? I put carrots, rice and bit of meat into the slow cooker and set to high for about three hours. After that, I saw that the porridge got little water so just add water, can I turn to low for another 6 to 8 hours?

      1. Hi, soaking helps to reduce the cooking hour, otherwise you will just have to lengthen the time. I would think 3 hour on high heat is too long (but I have not tried that), just watch out to ensure it doesn't get burn. If possible do reduce the cooking time, it is friendly to yor electricity bill too..

    11. Hi, my lo just turn 6 months last week. What do you recommend for her first solid food at this stage? Was it too early for her to start her solid food when she doesn't know how to sit on her own?

    12. Hi, my lo just turn 6 months last week. Mean while im just starting her with some rice cereal(for her play). Was it too early to start her with solid food when she's not able to sit on her own?

      1. Hi Wei Wei,

        In the first few weeks, just start the little one on mushy food and not really solid. Cereal with vegetable purée or mashed fruits are some good choices to begin with. Sitting or not at 6mo is not a problem in my opinion, you can hold her up and feed her in sitting position. Just very small scoop each time, let her explore the taste and texture. Remember to use a bib as she may spits out when she dislikes the taste.

    13. Hi may I know what brand and model of slow cook do you use? Your blog entry is a god's send! :)

      1. Hi, I use Panasonic but I think any slow cooker will work. Glad you like my blog sharing, it was written with hope to help young parents after all :)

    14. Hi, can i ask instead of using freshly cut vegetable into the slow cooker, can i use frozen pureed vegetable? Coz i have prepared some fresh vegetable puree which I have freeze it (for easy thawing when baby wants to eat). When should I add this puree into the porridge? Add puree together with uncooked rice? Or after the rice is cooked, then only add in the puree?

      Secondly, may I know what rice you use? Any special / specific rice you use for baby?

      Hope to hear from you.


      1. Hi Christina, you may just thaw the purée into the porridge before feeding, no need to cook again. However at such stage the baby may enjoy semi solid food. I used short grain rice, softer texture in general.

    15. Hi there, I have made the porridge for my baby following your method, and using Panasonic slow cooker too. I found that there is some burnt at the circumference of the slow cooker in the morning after six hours of cooking at low heat. However, the porridge still taste good. Do you know what's went wrong? Is it too little of water? My porridge looks more watery than yours in the picture. Hope you can share your thought. Thanks.

      1. Hi Fion, I didn't have any incident of burnt porridge, perhaps you can check if you are using "low" mode instead of Auto? Also do make sure the lid is closed properly (to avoid liquid from evaporating). Besides, perhaps you can consider a lamp timer and set it to switch off earlier, say 5 hours. Pot to pot may be different heat level... Hope this helps.

    16. Hi Pui Hua, thanks for your prompt response. I'm using 'low' mode. Will make sure the lid is closed. The only difference is I'm cooking half of your rice portion because my baby still having one meal only each day. I guess that could be the cause. Will try with 1/4 cup rice tonight and hope it works. Thanks much for your help and recommendation. Much appreciate that.

      1. Hi Fion, would recommend you cook for double portion even if baby is eating one meal, as the slow cooker needs minimum amount of liquid to cook, if too little liquid it may burn the edge... Hope this will make a different :)

    17. Since this recipe makes 2 portions can I store the 2nd portion in the fridge and warm it for baby's dinner? Do u hv any suggestion to add variety for dinner?

      1. If you keep it in a well insulated flask (Thermos, for example), it shall be able to keep warm for 6 hours so there is no need to reheat. Otherwise you may choose to reheat and add veggie purée that you may have prepared (you may refer to my earlier post on early baby food) for variety.

    18. I'm now experimenting in porridge. I'm tempted to try to give my gal fish but don't know where to start. You mentioned, not adding in the fish first and passing the fresh ingredients to the caretaker. Does that mean, I first boil the porridge, separate pack the raw fish and pass to my mil to cook (caretaker of my gal)?

      Also, how do I make fish stock to cook with porridge?

      Thank you much! Oh my gal is 8 months old!

      PS: Love your blog :)