What’s up with Quinoa?

Today’s post answers two questions about quinoa asked by parents on the Love Child Facebook page. In my next post I’ll respond to parents questions about toddler eating.

“Rice cereal vs quinoa cereal, why is rice so popular?”

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 one at a time, 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.

Other fantastic first foods that (naturally) are a good source of iron are meats, poultry, fish, tofu, beans, and legumes.

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

“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 its 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, 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.

Remember, puree through fork-mashed are great textures for first foods. Baby can advance to finger foods by about 8 months.

Do you have a question that you’d like me to answer here? Email me at Kristen@vitaminkconsulting.com and mention “Love Child Blog” in the subject line.


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Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD

The Dietitian who Transforms Picky Eaters into Food-Confident Kids

Answering the question “How do I get my kids to try new foods?”




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