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Q&A With Dr. Laura Jana

As a nationally-recognized parenting expert and award-winning author of Food Fights and Heading Home with Your Newborn, pediatrician Dr. Laura Jana actively promotes the introduction of healthy eating habits right from the very start.

Dr. Laura Jana Dr. Laura Jana, M.D. Award-Winning Parenting Author

When considering which foods are best to offer as first foods for babies, it is particularly important to take into account several factors such as nutritional content, how easily digested the food is, and, of course, any potential allergy risk. 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.

  • Why choose quinoa as a first food?

    When it comes to starting infants on solid foods, safety should always be considered first and foremost. The first consideration, especially for young infants unaccustomed to eating solid foods, should be to make sure that any solid food introduced does not pose a choking risk. Fortunately, quinoa as a first food for infants can be prepared by mixing it to varying degrees of liquid or paste according to a baby’s feeding skills and served safely, just like traditional baby cereals. Allergy concerns are often the other major safety concern. In this regard, quinoa is great because it’s hypoallergenic and therefore, unlike many traditional grains, is not thought to pose any allergy risk.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Is there really a difference between plant-based foods that offer naturally occurring nutrients vs. artificially added (fortified) ones?

    The fortification of foods is a proven effective public health tool for preventing nutritional deficiencies. That said, the option of serving/eating healthy “whole” foods – foods such as quinoa that, in their natural state, are nutrient-rich – is considered by many in the nutrition world, not to mention the parenting world, to be preferable.

  • When should I start introducing quinoa to my baby?

    When it comes to introducing cereal into a baby’s diet for the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends waiting until around 6 months of age (although a range of 4 to 6 months is considered acceptable). In addition to waiting until at least 4 months, it’s recommended that parents start with single-ingredient cereals that are least likely to be allergenic – both clear attributes of quinoa. From a milestone standpoint, it’s also important to make sure babies are showing developmental signs of solid-food readiness. These signs, described in more detail in my book Food Fights (published by the AAP), include the ability to hold one’s head up well, sit upright and show an interest in food.

  • What practical parenting tips do you have for moms and dads who are getting ready to introduce solids into their baby's diet for the first time?

    1. Consider it a learning experience. The feeding of first foods is often eagerly anticipated and certainly represents a nutritionally significant nutritional milestone. That said, I always recommend parents consider it, first and foremost, a learning experience – and one that can take both patience and practice before a baby gets the hang of it. As with any learning experience, this means not waiting until a baby is tired, starving, or otherwise ill-equipped to sit down and tackle the new task of getting spoon-fed cereal to stay in one’s mouth and successfully swallowed.

    2. Plan to get messy. I find that a lot of the stress around infant feeding often results from the misguided goal of keeping everything (and everyone) involved neat and clean. By simply dressing oneself and one’s baby in clothing that can get messy and picking a feeding location that can be easily cleaned up, parents can make the experience much more enjoyable.

    3. Make food fun. As important as infant nutrition is, it’s equally important that parents and children alike enjoy their shared mealtime experiences. To that end, I always recommend taking a step back, taking a deep breath and taking time to enjoy introducing babies to their first foods – mess and all!

Allergens

Are your products Non-GMO?

All NurturMe products are non-GMO.

Are your products USDA Certified Organic?

All NurturMe products are certified organic, kosher and have been inspected by the FDA. To obtain organic certification, best practices for food safety are heightened to avoid any cross contamination with non-organic. The standards and sanitary practices are one step more stringent than non-organic products.

Are your products kosher?

All NurturMe products are certified kosher by the Orthodox Union.

Are your products FDA approved?

All of our raw materials are FDA approved, and all of our products are manufactured in FDA approved facilities. In addition, all NurturMe products are certified organic, kosher and have been inspected by the FDA. The facilities we work with all hold high ratings for their Good Manufacturing Practices from third party-approved auditors. Along with working with reputable supply chain partners, we perform detailed micro and chemical analysis on all finished goods to ensure that our little customers are consuming the safest food possible.

What does “Tummy-Friendly” mean?

NurturMe’s organic tummy friendly baby and toddler foods are free from common allergens that can upset sensitive bellies and promote good digestive health. That means zero gluten, dairy, soy, egg or guilt. Additionally, our ancient grain based cereals and snacks deliver a daily dose of probiotics.

Are your products vegan friendly?

All of our products are vegan friendly, with the exception of our Cheddar and Broccoli Quinoa Squares, our honey flavored Ancient Grain Cookies, and our cocoa flavored Ancient Grain Cookies. Our Cheddar and Broccoli Quinoa Squares have been discontinued from our line as party of our Tummy Friendly initiative. Beginning spring 2017, this particular flavor will be phased out of NurturMe’s product lineup online and in stores.

Are your products manufactured in facilities with allergens? If so, what do you do to prevent cross contamination?

While we do not make any specific “nut-free” claims, our products are not made using nuts or tree nuts, with the exception of coconut oil used in our 100% Quinoa Squares, and coconut cream in our Dairy Free Yogurt Alternatives. Our manufacturers’ facilities are peanut-free, but do contain tree nuts. However, all equipment with allergens undergoes a certified cleaning process to ensure there is not cross-contamination between products. As with all special dietary concerns, we recommend checking with your pediatrician if you have any further doubts or concerns.

Probiotics

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live, active, good bacteria that can aid infants and toddlers to create a healthy colony of bacteria and microbes within their gastrointestinal systems.

Why should I give my infant or toddler probiotics?

There are a variety of factors that can negatively affect the natural bacteria and digestive development of infants and toddlers. For example, if a baby is bottle fed, delivered via C-section or has to be put on antibiotics, any and all of these can lower the amount of naturally-occurring beneficial bacteria and change the overall balance of their digestive system. Even if a baby has not experienced any of the above, all babies are born with sterile digestive tracts and must work to build beneficial bacteria and create a healthy microbiome. Using a proven probiotic strain like GanedenBC30 (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086) can aid infants & toddlers in this process.

How often should my infant or toddler have probiotics?

Probiotics are transient, meaning that they do not stay permanently in the digestive system and must be taken daily to confer health benefits.

Can my child consume too many probiotics from NurturMe products?

No, GanedenBC30 has been tested and proven safe for up to 94 times the necessary daily intake without any adverse effects.

Is it the same as the probiotics found in yogurt?

Yogurt companies use starter cultures which are not the same as probiotic bacteria and don’t provide the same benefits. Some yogurt companies add probiotic bacteria to their end product to make probiotic claims. But the benefits and inclusion levels are strain specific and as these strains are very fragile, which makes their survival through the manufacturing process, shelf life and digestive transit a challenge.

What probiotic strain do you use?

NurturMe’s quinoa-based meals and snacks are fortified with GanedenBC30, which has been proven to be safe and effective in supporting immune health and digestive health, and is so gentle it has Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status from the FDA for infant formula. It is also certified kosher, halal, gluten free, natural, organic compliant and non-GMO.

Is your probiotic strain safe?

Yes, GanedenBC30 is extremely safe, even at high doses, and has Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status from the FDA. The safety data for GanedenBC30 shows that a person can safely take up to 94 times the necessary daily intake without any adverse effects. It is also the first bacillus coagulan probiotic to receive FDA GRAS for use in infant formula based on its safety.

Which of your products have probiotics?

All of our ancient grain-based cereals and snacks are fortified with a daily recommended dose of probiotics to promote good digestive health. This includes the Organic Quinoa Baby Cereals, 100% Quinoa Squares and Ancient Grain Cookies.

Sourcing/Manufacturing

Where are your ingredients sourced from and why?

We purchase our Fair Trade organic quinoa from local cooperatives in South America. NurturMe is dedicated to giving back to the region by supporting the local families in the farming and surrounding rural areas where our quinoa is sourced through our charitable NurturNiños program.

Product Information

How should I serve and store the products?

As we have a vast number of items, we recommend you check the back of packaging for specific storage instructions

How long are products good for after opening?

Our Power Blends squeeze pouches are best if consumed within 24 hours after opening if refrigerated. Our Quinoa Baby Cereals should be consumed immediately after mixing with a liquid. Ancient Grain Cookies, Quinoa Squares and Yum-A-Roo toddler snacks are best consumed within the week after opening. Safe storage instructions can be found on our packaging.

What is the shelf life of your products?

For quality freshness, consume the products by the “best before” date listed on the packages.

Are your products available internationally?

Although we do not ship internationally from NurturMe.com, our products are available internationally through iHerb.com.

Where can I purchase NurturMe products?

You can purchase NurturMe products at a store near you through https://nurturme.com/where-to-find-us/. Additionally, our products may be purchased via our online store and other websites including SamsClub.comBuyBuyBaby.com, Amazon.com, Jet.com, and iHerb.com.

 

Who do I contact about a product issue or concern?

Please contact info@nurturme.com for any issues or concerns, and we’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.

Ancient Grains

Why quinoa for babies and toddlers?

Quinoa is gentle, easily digestible and naturally hypoallergenic – gluten, dairy, and soy free. It is also a complete protein with all essential and non-essential amino acids. It has natural choline for brain development, along with omega 3, 6, 9 fatty acids for brain and eye development. It is also a natural fiber that acts as a prebiotic to assist with digestion.

Q&A with Dr. Jana on the website: https://nurturme.com/why-ancient-grains

Giving Back

Does NurturMe support any charitable organizations?

NurturMe supports a variety of charitable organizations to support children’s health and wellness on a local, national and international level. We are currently in partnership with NurturNiños, Feed The Children, and the Autism Hope Alliance.