What's Up with Quinoa for Baby Food?

quinoa for baby food{Update on a guest post on the Love Child Organics blog: http://www.lovechildorganics.com/blog/} Today’s post answers two questions about quinoa for baby food asked by parents on the Love Child Facebook page. In my next post I'll respond to parents questions about toddler eating. “Rice baby cereal vs quinoa baby cereal, why is rice so popular?”

Baby Cereal: Rice, Quinoa, and More

Using rice cereal as a first food is a hold-over from the old advice for introducing solid foods that recommended starting with rice and moving on to other foods in a particular order in an effort to prevent food allergies. The recommendations have changed and now the current recommendations are to introduce foods in no particular order. Now I could go on about the theories behind food allergy prevention and what foods to introduce at what times, but that’s a whole other blog post. Today I’ll stay focused on this question.

The one advantage that the infant cereals have is that they’re fortified with iron, meaning that they’ve had iron added to them. Grains, including quinoa, have many nutrients but they’re naturally low in iron. Babies have an important need for iron-rich foods. This is why they add iron to baby cereals. Quinoa baby cereal is now available.

Other fantastic first foods that (naturally) are a good source of iron are meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, beans and lentils, and nuts & seeds (and their butters).

Once your baby is eating iron-rich foods at least twice per day, introduce a wide variety of other foods, such as quinoa.

Preparing Quinoa for a New Eater

“What's the best way to prepare quinoa for a new eater? Boiling and puréed is not cutting it.”

Now I’m not quite sure what the parent meant by “not cutting it”, but I’m assuming that she means that her child won’t eat pureed quinoa.

Quinoa is small in size. It won’t block a child’s airway so choking risk is very small. Feel free to serve it whole – no need to puree it. Here are a few ideas:

  • Serve it on it’s own. Quinoa’s small size is an excellent challenge for babies to practice their dexterity.
  • Stir cooked quinoa into other fork-mashed texture or pureed foods, such as mashed bananas or avocados. Or try out some of the baby food recipes with quinoa on the Love Child Blog. For these recipes you can either blend the quinoa right in or stir it in whole after the other ingredients have been pureed or fork mashed.Combined textures (i.e. the mashed/pureed with the whole quinoa) are a great practice for little ones.
  • Combine quinoa with egg (an iron-rich food), and other optional ingredients, to make quinoa patties (similar to a burger or fish cake), then break it into finger food size pieces. There are hundreds of recipes on the internet. Chatelaine Magazine featured one in April and the Love Child Blog has a great baked quinoa and egg recipe too. Once you’ve introduced each of these ingredients as single foods, give a burger recipe a try.

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