How to Prepare Homemade Cerelac (Sathu Maavu) for Babies

Homemade Cerelac or Sathu Maavu for Babies

Foods that are purchased from the supermarket are easy to prepare. Mix a readymade powder into the water and you’re done! But don’t you think that using these store-bought products for babies is a huge compromise on the nutritional safety of your tiny one? As adults, we know the benefits of fresh home cooked food as opposed to the preserved ones. So if we can get so finicky about what we eat, why can’t we apply the same logic to children?

Video: How to Make Sathu Maavu for Babies

What is Home Made Cerelac?

As the name suggests, homemade Cerelac or Sathu Maavu is freshly cooked wholesome food for your tiny ones. It’s so tasty and nutritious that even adults can consume it. This delectable meal can be given to babies once they are above 6 months of age.

It has a consistency of a porridge mix which can be customized with the use of fruit puree, cereals, pulses, and grains. Here’s a tip, some of the ingredients can be soaked and sprouted overnight to increase its nutritional content.

No baby could ever get bored from consuming this since it can be prepared in countless ways with different combinations of ingredients.

Its health benefits are so well known that the Tamils call it Sathu Maavu which literally means healthy flour.

Nutritional Value of Cerelac

Wheat Dalia It is rich in carbohydrate, protein, and magnesium
Almond It is high in fat and proteins, calcium, and magnesium
Rice Good source of dietary fibre, and carbohydrate
Corn It has high carbohydrate content and protein, vitamin B6, and is an antioxidant
Black Urad Dal Rich in protein and Vitamin B complex
Cashew It is rich in good fat and magnesium, vitamin B6, and protein
Elaichi It is rich in dietary fibre and Iron
Sago It is rich in carbohydrate and has high calorific value
Horse Gram 1/4th of it contains protein, a good source of iron, calcium, molybdenum
Masoor Dal Packed with protein, fibre, iron, and folate
Green Gram It is rich in protein, dietary fibre, Iron, and magnesium


Why Choose Homemade Cerelac When Packaged One Is Easily Available?

Of course, packaged products are available in bulk and are easy-to-use. But they are no better than  homemade products. Here are some of the disadvantages of packaged foods that you should be aware of and hence not give them to babies:

  • Preservatives and Chemicals: Apart from feeding our babies processed foods, we are also feeding them preservatives and other chemicals. The tins carrying preserved foods won’t mention the harmful effects of preservatives on a baby’s developing intestine. Chemicals such as Sodium Laurel Sulphate (SLS) causes skin irritation; mineral oil clogs pores of the skin as it’s occlusive, and the list goes on. If we as adults are conscious about what we eat, the same principle should apply to our little ones.
  • Storage Conditions: No one is clearly aware of what the packaged baby food has gone through before reaching our kitchen counters. It would be erroneous to think that your food is safe. It could have been contaminated during the manufacturing process, storage, or shipping and the thought of it can make you cringe.
  • Allergies: There could be a possibility of a baby being allergic to some of the ingredients. Milk, nuts, gluten and eggs are ingredients that babies are commonly allergic to. It can be challenging to figure this out in packaged food as the ingredients are all mixed up. On the contrary, while preparing customized baby food at home, it is easy to add the ingredients that are suitable for your child.

At the end of the day, mama’s home-cooked food trumps all. It’s safe, nutritious, and easy on the pocket. It also gives rise to good eating habits right from the start.

Benefits of Home Made Cerelac

Below are some of the sathu maavu benefits that your baby can derive from eating it:

  • Food preparation can be customised and ingredients which cause allergies can be avoided.
  • The porridge mixture not only serves as baby food but it can also be served as idlis, cakes, and dosas.
  • The brown rice ingredient is high in fibre content and helps in digestion.
  • Homemade cerelac is free of chemicals and preservatives and can be consumed fresh.
  • Ragi, one of the prime ingredients in sathu maavu, is rich in calcium which helps in the proper development of bones.
  • The ingredient horse gram provides your baby with high levels of protein which help in rapid growth and development.
  • There is no fear of any contaminants in the food as you have made the sathu maavu yourself.
  • The powder can be stored for one month at room temperature and for around three to six months in a refrigerator.

A bowl of cerelac

How to Make Cerelac/Health Mix Powder at Home? 

The sathu maavu recipe has simple ingredients which you will find on your kitchen shelves.

Sathu Maavu Ingredients

  • Brown Rice – 1 cup
  • Ragi/ Nachni – 1 cup
  • Horse Gram – ½ cup
  • Masoor Dal – ½ cup
  • Moong Dal – ½ cup
  • Almonds – ½ cup
  • Elaichi – 8-10 pods

How to Prepare

  • Ragi/ Nachni, horse gram, masoor dal, and moong dal can be soaked overnight separately in different containers.
  • Then tie the grains in a soft cotton cloth separately and keep them aside at a dry place.
  • Dry each sprouted grain in the Sun for a day.
  • Roast brown rice, ragi/ nachni, horse gram, masoor dal, moong dal, almonds and elaichi in a clean and dry non-stick vessel separately. Make sure each ingredient is roasted on a medium-low flame to ensure that its cooked well from the inside and not just outside. Once roasted, the colour becomes darker. Keep aside to cool.
  • Once cooled, transfer the mixture to a blender (grinder). Make sure that the mixture turns into a fine powder.
  • Allow it to cool.
  • Transfer the powdered mixture into an airtight container.

Precautions You Need to Take While Preparing Cerelac at Home

While making cerelac at home, there are certain things that need to be kept in mind. Make note of these points:

  • Do not use a wet vessel. Before roasting any ingredient, make sure it is dry.
  • To ensure each ingredient is roasted well, taste each of them to make sure its cooked well. It should be easy to bite like roasted nuts.
  • Wash each ingredient to remove any dirt particles.
  • In order to get rid of the coarse ingredient, ensure to sift all the ingredients.
  • Ingredients of the same size can be roasted together since they will take the same amount of time to cook.
  • Cool the mixture before grinding it.

Feeding a baby with a spoon

How to Prepare Sathu Maavu for Babies?

Follow these simple steps to prepare sathu maavu for babies:

  • Step 1: Add 2 tablespoons of the sathu maavu powder to 1 cup of water.
  • Step 2: While heating, stir continuously so that it doesn’t stick to the utensil.
  • Step 3: Cook it on a low flame for about 10 minutes. Make sure that the rice and dals are well cooked.
  • Step 4: A natural sweetener like jaggery (Gur) can be added to the mixture to make a sweet version of it or you can add salt to make a savoury one.

Helpful Tips

Below are some important tips you should note when feeding sathv maavu to your baby:

  • While introducing new foods, make sure you follow the 3-day rule. This way it is easy to detect if a baby has any allergic reactions. On the first day, provide one tablespoon of newly introduced food once a day. On the second day, make it two tablespoons twice a day. On the third day, make it three tablespoons thrice a day. This is a very gradual step to understand any allergic reactions to new foods.
  • To turn this mixture into a health drink, one tablespoon of the powder can be mixed with 100ml of milk. Make sure it’s cooked well before serving.
  • Avoid adding honey as a sweetener if your baby is less than one year old. This is because honey has spores that can lead to botulism and it can also prove fatal.
  • Breast milk can be added to the porridge for babies who are still transitioning to solid food.
  • A tablespoon of cow’s milk can be introduced while cooking, for babies that are a year and older. This is because studies have shown that giving cow’s milk to infants have lead to iron deficiency and severe dehydration.
  • The consistency of the porridge depends on how it’s made. It can be made thick (like a paste consistency) or runny based on how much of water you add.

How to Store Sathu Maavu?

Some of the points that must be kept in mind for storing Sathu Maavu include:

  • Sathu Maavu can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
  • The porridge prepared must be discarded two hours after preparation.

Can You Give Home Made Cerelac to Babies Below 10 Months?

Yes, it can be given to babies, and you can do so without any hesitation. The beauty of homemade cerelac is that it can be customized to suit your baby’s requirements. Its soft texture makes it an ideal transition option from breastmilk to solid food. Homemade cerelac for a six-month baby should contain the basic dals like moong or masoor and cereals like rice and wheat. This is because it contains proteins and is lighter on the digestive system than meat.

The habit of having home cooked food will instil in your child an appreciation for it. Your baby is being taught to appreciate natural flavours and textures from different fruits, vegetables, grams, pulses, and cereals. It is not only economical to prepare this mixture but is also health friendly. This traditional Indian method of preparing a first food meal is recognized worldwide.

Also Read: Porridge Recipes for Baby