Quinoa | 6 mos+ |🥇💪🔥🌱💩
Updated: Jun 20
Quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wah’) is actually a seed, rather than a “true” grain, as many people believe. Botanically, it’s a relative of swiss chard and beets. It’s originally from the Andes, where it has long been cultivated by the Incas. This “superfood” stores diverse health benefits, and it gives babies many of the required nutrients to grow properly.
DISCLAIMER: Each child has their own development timeline and specific needs. The content below is general information and for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional one-on-one advice. You are responsible for supervising your child’s health and for evaluating the appropriateness of the information below for your child. Please consult your healthcare provider regarding support or advice for your child's well being and health. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
8. How to store quinoa
When can I give quinoa to my baby?
Babies can eat quinoa as soon as they are ready to start eating solid foods, which is usually when they are around 6 months of age and have met all the readiness signs for solids, unless otherwise advised by your baby's healthcare provider. This nutritious grain makes a great addition to your little one’s diet and it is very versatile. You can make it a cereal, a pilaf, or a “burger” for finger food!
You can give your baby a safe start to solid foods! This on-demand workshop will provide you with the knowledge and confidence you need to wean well.
So what is quinoa?
Quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wah’) is actually a seed, rather than a “true” grain, as many people believe. Botanically, it’s a relative of swiss chard and beets. It’s originally from the Andes, where it has long been cultivated by the Incas.
Quinoa is a small, light-colored round grain, similar in appearance to sesame seeds. But quinoa is also available in other colors, including red, purple and black. It has an excellent taste and many health benefits. This easy to swallow and easy to digest food is a favorite of a lot of mothers and babies.
It is also one of those foods that might start creeping into the meals for the entire family. And that is not a bad thing, since it is a nutritious option for all ages, and with the right recipe can be downright delicious.
Fun Fact: The ancient Incas called quinoa “the mother grain.”
Is quinoa a healthy food for babies?
Quinoa is a nutritious grain. It is filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, carbs, and water.
This “superfood” stores diverse health benefits. It gives babies many of the required nutrients to grow properly.
Quinoa is an excellent choice for your baby because of its high protein content. The seed is considered a complete protein containing the right amount of essential amino acids. The content of these nutrients is higher in quinoa than in common cereals. Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, and, thus, is a complete protein source. The protein works to build up the muscle of infants. It also aids in the growth of the bones, hair, nails, and supports the body to perform various functions significantly. Additionally, a good amount of lysine is also present in quinoa. Lysine is an essential amino acid that your baby needs for growth and repair systems in their body.
The fiber in quinoa works as a natural laxative that helps the digestion process, and prevents constipation and excessive gassiness.
Quinoa is a good source of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and some other minerals. Your baby needs all these minerals to grow: Calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium are crucial for bone growth. Quinoa is higher in iron than any other grain. Iron aids in the production of hemoglobin, an important cell for the proper distribution of oxygen in the body. Babies are at risk of iron anemia, so quinoa is a great addition in the diet to help them get the amount of iron they need to continue growing healthy.
This grain is full of vitamins. It contains a cluster of B group vitamins, such as riboflavin, niacin, and thiamine. All these are important for the production and release of energy, and support the baby’s physical and mental development.
Quinoa is rich with natural antioxidants that help to boost the immune system of infants, help prevent the formation of carcinogenic (cancer) cells, and keep the heart of your little one healthy.
Is quinoa a safe food for babies?
Quinoa does not contain any common food safety hazards. But be careful if your baby has a sensitive gut. The quinoa seed's exterior part is coated with saponin, which is a mild digestive irritant, and may be harmful to the gut lining.
Saponins are a naturally occurring phytochemical that gives unwashed quinoa a bitter taste. It is a protective compound of plants that protects the plant from birds and insects and fungus attack.
It is always recommended that quinoa be rinsed thoroughly before cooking and consumption to remove any remaining saponins. And remember to serve the quinoa in moderation, as excessive intake of quinoa could affect the gut lining. See the sections "How to buy" and "How to prepare and offer" for more information on how to safely serve quinoa to your baby.
Is quinoa a choking hazard for babies?
Quinoa is not listed on CDC's list of most common choking hazards for babies. However, the seeds can clump together in the cooking process. To reduce the risk of choking, once cooked, make sure to fluff and separate quinoa with a fork before serving it to your baby. Refer to the section “How to prep and offer” to learn more about how to prepare and offer quinoa to your baby.
This workshop covers everything you need to know for dealing with gagging, reducing the risk of choking during mealtimes, and offering safe food sizes and shapes to your child.
Note: Keep in mind that any food can present a risk for choking if not prepared correctly. You are responsible for following age and food modification guidelines provided in order to reduce your baby’s risk for choking.
Is quinoa a top food allergen for babies?
Quinoa allergy is not very common. It does not cause any harm to your baby, but saponin, a protective compound present on the surface layer of the seed, may cause reactions in the body.
Saponin is a bitter compound that may cause irritation and toxicity in some people. The reaction may vary from mild to severe. It all depends on the body’s reaction to the compound. Virtually all of the quinoa sold in the United States is completely pre-rinsed so the bubbly, bitter saponins are limited.
Quinoa sensitivity may also be developed due to the protein or oxalate present in the seed. Symptoms include facial swelling, low blood pressure, inability to breathe, pale skin, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, eczema. Report to the doctor as soon as you find any allergic reaction developing in your baby.
If your baby has celiac disease or any family member has grain sensitivity, check with your pediatrician before introducing quinoa into the baby’s diet.
Whenever you give your baby quinoa (or other foods) for the first time, offer it in small quantities, and watch for any signs of a reaction. If your baby seems to tolerate the food well and you see no adverse reaction, then continue to gradually increase portion sizes when you offer it again to your baby. If your baby shows any symptoms like diarrhea, skin hives, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, swelling of mouth, weakness, or dizziness after the consumption of quinoa, consult your healthcare provider. These symptoms can be a sign of allergy or intolerance.
Note: Always consult with your healthcare provider regarding introducing solid foods to your baby, and specifically discuss any foods that may pose allergy risks for your baby.
How to buy quinoa for babies
You may purchase quinoa whole, in flakes, crisps, and even as a flour. Virtually all of the quinoa sold in the United States is completely pre-rinsed so the bubbly, bitter saponins are limited.
Quinoa is sometimes sold in bulk bins. If you buy it from a bulk bin (which is often the most economical option), then make sure that the bin is kept adequately covered so that it is safe for your baby. It’s also better if the store you buy it from is busy enough to ensure that the stock is regularly turned over… you don’t want to buy stale quinoa!
More often, though, you’ll find quinoa sold pre-packed, and it tends to be displayed along with rice and other grains. You will find different colors of quinoa in a grocery store - white, red, black, and tri-color or rainbow quinoa. White quinoa has the least bitter taste.
★If your baby has celiac disease or gluten sensitivity - look for the “gluten-free” label on the quinoa package. Quinoa is considered gluten-free, but some strains of quinoa may contain a measurable amount of gluten due to cross contamination.