Your baby can enjoy quinoa -- a slightly sweet, grain-like seed -- at around 8 to 10 months of age. With a texture that Finecooking.com calls “soft–but-crunchy,” quinoa is easy to prepare and include in your baby’s meals. It's also packed with iron, antioxidants, fiber and protein, and contains all the essential amino acids. Consult your pediatrician for advice on beginning solids such as quinoa; babies should have a diet of only breast milk or formula for the first few months of life.
As with any new food you feed your baby, start with just a small amount of quinoa to check for sensitivity or possible allergic reactions, such as coughing, hives, stomach pain, rashes, diarrhea or vomiting. If your baby develops hives or has trouble breathing, call 911; for other reactions, immediately stop feeding him the new food and talk to his doctor about the issue. If baby doesn't take to quinoa on the first try, wait a few days, then try again as it may take more than one exposure to a new food to develop a taste for it, according to Dr. Alan Green, clinical professor of pediatrics at Stanford School of Medicine and author of “Feeding Baby Green."
One of the easiest ways to incorporate quinoa into your baby’s diet is by using it as a rice-cereal alternative. You can buy quinoa powder or grind the quinoa yourself after rinsing it in a fine mesh strainer until the cloudiness is gone. Add water, formula or breast milk to create the cereal, using a ratio of 1/4 cup of quinoa powder to 1 to 2 cups of liquid, and cook the mixture until the liquid is absorbed to the desired consistency. You can also use whole grain quinoa cooked in a similar manner as rice for a fluffier cereal.
Your baby can enjoy quinoa alone or as a tasty addition to regular meals. On Babycenter.com, Seattle pediatrician Dr. Susanna Block recommends adding quinoa to vegetable broth or serving it with a few chopped onions. She also encourages the use of seasonings to add extra flavor. Try mixing in a few spices such as cinnamon, vanilla or ginger, or add quinoa to casseroles or bowls of yogurt with fruit to give your baby variety.
As your baby’s eating skills develop with practice and the appearance of more teeth, and his food preferences mature, use quinoa in more versatile ways. Add it to your baby's favorite vegetable-and-meat dish, or mix it into a batter with other baby-friendly ingredients, such as mashed carrot, to bake moist, tasty cakes or cookies that baby can pick up and eat. Exposure to various food textures will help promote baby’s oral and speech development by encouraging him to use his tongue and mouth in ways that strengthen them, says Block.