Over the past few years, quinoa has certainly earned its halo as a nutrient powerhouse that’s wonderful for our health.  In fact, 2013 was officially named the “International Year of Quinoa” by the United Nations. But did you know the protein-packed superfood also makes a healthy and nutritious first food for infants?  With a nutritional profile similar to breast milk, quinoa is a perfect first food for babies and makes a healthy and nutritious alternative to traditional rice cereals for weaning.

According to Dr. Laura Jana, a nationally recognized pediatrician, parenting expert and award-winning author of Food Fights and Heading Home with Your Newborn,

bp1 300x297 Quinoa: An ideal first food for infants and healthy alternative to rice cereals.quinoa offers parents the opportunity to introduce healthy eating habits right from the start, a practice she actively promotes. Says Dr. Jana: “Given that quinoa has long been recognized for being both nutrient-rich and easily absorbed, not to mention less allergenic than other grains, the concept of introducing quinoa as a first food alternative to traditional rice cereal is particularly appealing.”

Not sure how to go about giving your little one quinoa? NurturMe, the organic baby and toddler food brand, recently introduced the first-ever pure quinoa cereal for infants – providing parents a healthy and easy weaning option that is rich in nutrients, gentle on the tummy and supports baby’s growth naturally. Made from 100 percent supergrain, NurturMe’s Organic Quinoa Baby cereals are a complete and balanced protein, iron fortified (50% daily value), easily digestible and gluten-free. They’re also first and only infant cereal to offer 100 percent naturally occurring nutrients from whole foods. Unlike synthetic nutrients, which can cause constipation and indigestion, plant-based vitamins and minerals are easily digested and improve baby’s overall nutrient absorption. NurturMe’s Organic Quinoa Baby Cereals come in two flavors – Pure Protein-Packed Quinoa and Quinoa + Apple Blend – and are available nationwide online and in stores for $5.75 per 3.7 ounce bag.

Q&A with Dr. Jana, nationally recognized pediatrician and award-winning parenting author author, about the benefits of feeding your infant quinoa as a first food.

bp2 Quinoa: An ideal first food for infants and healthy alternative to rice cereals.

Q: What’s the difference between quinoa and the rice (and other) cereals that have been used as first foods for decades?

What quinoa shares with the traditional baby cereals is the fact that it can be fed to babies in the same, safe and time-tested form of a baby cereal – the consistency of which can be adjusted to accommodate babies’ developing feeding skills. Referred to as a “supergrain”, what’s different about quinoa is the fact that it naturally offers a higher nutrient value than rice – complete with protein, iron and other nutrients – while also being hypoallergenic.

Q: So Quinoa is safe for babies with gluten and other food allergies?

Two key aspects of quinoa that make it particularly compelling are that it is both gluten-free and hypoallergenic by nature. While quinoa is harvested and prepared in much the same fashion as rice and other grains and has long been referred to as “the mother of all grains” as far back as the Incas, it does not technically fall into the same category as cereal grains at all. In fact, quinoa is actually related to beets, chard and spinach. While this little-known fact may seem like simply interesting trivia, it is quite relevant in helping to explain why pure quinoa foods do not come with the same potential allergy concerns as traditional grains.

Q: What are some other benefits of quinoa as a first food?

I am a big believer in introducing healthy habits right from the start, so the idea of introducing what is considered to be a hypoallergenic and nutrient-rich “supergrain” into a child’s diet as a first food is very appealing. In addition, the ability to mix quinoa with breast milk (which itself is commonly recognized as “the perfect food for babies”) allows parents to serve babies a nutritionally dynamic duo.

Click here to read the full Q&A with Dr. Laura Jana about the many benefits of quinoa and other first-food tips for your baby.

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