I rounded up my favorite healthy oatmeal recipes that are packed with kid-friendly flavor to making that morning meal a little easier on you. With instant, overnight, baked, stovetop, and oatmeal muffin recipes to choose from, these are delicious options for the kids…and you!
Healthy Oatmeal Recipes
Filled with heart-healthy fiber and complex carbohydrates, oatmeal is a nourishing source of energy—and it’s budget-friendly, easy to customize with all sorts of flavors, and it can keep our hearts (and our digestive systems, ahem toddler constipation) in good shape. It’s also very filling, which makes it a healthy toddler breakfast to start the day.
These healthy oatmeal recipes are kid-friendly, come in a variety of textures, and are easy to make. I have ideas for baby oatmeal, instant oatmeal, baked oatmeal, oatmeal muffins, and all variety of stovetop oatmeal. (I also have Bliss Balls which use oats, too!)
And if you want make-ahead options, look for overnight oats below. These are designed to be eaten by little kids and adults, so you can prepare one recipe to share with the entire family. And since oatmeal is a great source of whole grains, B vitamins, fiber, and complex carbohydrates, these are wonderful breakfast ideas to have in the mix.
To start, let’s take a look at types of oatmeal just to make sure to avoid any confusion.
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Baby oatmeal is very, very fine oatmeal that resembles a powder. From the store, it’s typically fortified with iron and you simply need to stir in warm water, formula, breastmilk, or nondairy milk to prepare it. You can also easily make homemade baby oatmeal.
Instant oatmeal can be a healthy option for toddlers. It’s convenient and cooks up super fast. I would recommend reaching for plain packets so that you can add your own flavorings and control the added sugars. And consider adding some fat or protein from nut/seed butter, healthy oils, coconut milk, flax milk, or whole milk to balance out the quick releasing carbohydrates.
Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
Rolled oats, which take just a little bit longer than instant oats to cook, are one of the best breakfasts for toddlers. They digest slowly, which means they provide long-lasting energy, but they still cook up soft without much time. The whole grains are also a source of B vitamins and they are very versatile—you can add almost any fruit to them to customize them for your toddler! Quaker Oats is a brand you will see, and you can of course reach for store brands to save a little money on groceries.
Steel Cut Oats
Instant Steel Cut Oats
These seem to be more and more widely available and I know they are available at Trader Joe’s. Be sure to read the cooking instructions to make sure you use the right amount of liquid, but these will cook faster (and have similar nutrition) to regular steel cut oats.
Here’s a look at my favorite oatmeal recipes to share with the whole family. They are all appropriate for little kids and can be further customized to suit preferences and ingredient availability.
Make healthy baby oatmeal (or toddler oatmeal!) for kids that features whole grains, fiber, and veggies. Plus, you can make this quick breakfast recipe in just 5 minutes and it tastes sort of like pie!
Apple Raisin Oatmeal
Stir a few spoonfuls of applesauce into old-fashioned oats or instant oats for a low-sugar way to add sweetness. You’ll also add some Vitamin C to your toddler’s oatmeal. You can also grate in fresh apple and/or add raisins. We love this idea for babies learning to eat oatmeal.
Oatmeal with Fruit
It’s easy to make oatmeal with any sort of fruit you like—fresh, dried, canned frozen. This base recipe has all sorts of easy options!
Chia Seed Oatmeal
This recipe is straightforward and involves cooking the oats, adding milk and chia seeds, and choosing a fruit for flavor (and more vitamins) if you’d like. You can use fresh fruit, dried, or frozen depending on what you have.
Banana Bread Oatmeal
With simple ingredients, an easy cooking technique (that’s mostly hands off!), and the most delicious flavor, this Banana Bread Oatmeal is one of my very favorite cozy family breakfasts.
Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal with Apples
Stir together a few healthy ingredients in the crockpot, set it to cook overnight, and wake up to this nutritious Apple Steel Cut Oatmeal recipe to share with the whole family—babies and toddlers included!
Carrot Cake Oatmeal
Make the easiest Carrot Cake Oatmeal and serve up a dose of veggies for breakfast in a kid-friendly form everyone will love. This is such a great way to start the day with a nutritious breakfast that’s packed with favorite flavors from carrot cake.
Baked Blueberry Oatmeal
Stir together this wholesome Baked Oatmeal recipe before bed, pop it into the oven when you wake up, and you can sit down to a hearty bowl of oatmeal with the family without any standing by the stove and stirring!
Serve up a balanced mix of complex carbs and protein with these delicious Banana Oatmeal Pancakes. Bonus: The leftovers reheat so well and they’re delish with or without maple syrup.
Overnight Oats with Berries
Overnight oats are a perfect make-ahead breakfast. They have yogurt, milk, oats, and some fruit and you make the mixture the night before and the pudding-like mixture is ready for breakfast the next day. We love this blueberry version!
Banana Oatmeal Muffins
This easy muffin recipe comes together in a blender and is a GREAT way to offer oats if the kids aren’t into regular oatmeal.
Baked Oatmeal Cups with Cinnamon and Raisins
These baked oatmeal cups are an ideal way to serve oatmeal to babies, baby-led weaning style, and to toddlers who like to feed themselves. Oatmeal as finger food? Yes!
Does my toddler need organic oatmeal?
Organic oatmeal is certified to be grown without pesticides, so it may be a good choice for your toddler. Availability can vary widely depending on where you live and where you shop. Prices can also be twice to three times as much as conventionally grown oats, so keep that in mind if budget is a concern.
What about the potentially harmful chemicals found in oats?
There have been a lot of news stories lately about unsafe levels of certain chemicals in oat products. I’d encourage you not to worry excessively about these stories—which often just make us all freak out and bury the actual science!—because if oats are included in a diet along with a lot of other foods, the exposure is likely quite low. You can buy organic versions if you’d like to not worry as much about this issue.
What kind of gluten-free oats are best?
How can I get my picky eater to eat oatmeal?
Like many foods, many oatmeal recipes have a texture that your picky toddler may or may not enjoy. Here are some ideas to try:
- Making it thick or thin by adjusting the amount of water or milk you add.
- Different flavors to give them opportunities to find one they like.
- Try instant oats and rolled oats. Or, move on to steel cut oats or overnight oats to see if they like the texture of one or the other better.
- Add toppings like small seeds, diced soft fruit, a drizzle of nut butter or even yogurt.
- Serve a smaller portion than usual to avoid overwhelming them with too much.
Best Tips for Success
- There are also Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Balls and Banana Raisin Breakfast Cookies, which your kiddos might enjoy more than classic oatmeal.
- Use the type of oats listed in the recipe for the best results.
- To make any stovetop oatmeal recipe softer for a younger eater, simply add more water or milk and simmer a little longer so the oats breakdown more.
- Sweeten any oatmeal recipe with honey (for kids over age 1) or maple syrup, or try adding a fruit puree or diced fruit.
This post was first published January 2018.