Why Ancient Grains?
NurturMe Ancient Grains have naturally occurring nutritional benefits superior to traditional rice and other grains, including:
- Quinoa and amaranth are naturally and hypoallergenic
- Complete protein with all essential and non-essential amino acids
- Natural choline for brain development
- Lysine and minerals help the body absorb calcium, build muscle and strong bones
- Omega 3, 6, 9 fatty acids for brain and eye development
- Natural fiber that acts as a prebiotic to assist with digestion
- Active antioxidants for a strong immune system
4 Nutrient-packed Grains
Complete and balanced protein with all 9 essential amino acids
Easily digestible, boosts both brain and eye development
Prevents constipation and builds strong muscles and healthy bones
Good for heart and bone health and constipation
We purchase our Fair Trade organic quinoa from local co-ops in South America and give back to the families there through our NurturNiños program.
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.
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!