Meat is an important source of protein and iron that will help your baby’s growth and development, but when should you introduce it into his diet?
You can introduce meats into your baby’s diet once he or she is comfortably and willingly eating strained fruits and vegetables as well as various cereals. Usually, this transition occurs between 7 and 10 months, but each child is different. At this age, a baby’s molars haven’t grown in yet and they can’t chew, so remember to strain all meats into purees before feeding it to your little one. It doesn’t matter whether you introduce beef or poultry first—just see what is your baby’s preference.
At times, babies will reject meats, so just wait a few weeks or a month to see if she receives it better next time. Many parents find it easier to introduce meats to their children at 9 months, when they are already getting most of their nutrition from whole foods rather than formula. At some point, cereals and fruit and vegetable purees won’t be satisfactory for your little one any more and meats will become an important part of their diet, due to their density and high protein count.
Only introduce bite size pieces of meat when your toddler is already used to eating finger foods. Even then, remember to cut the pieces of meat into extra small pieces, so it’s easier for him to chew and swallow.
*As always, remember to talk to your pediatrician before introducing new foods to your baby’s diet and follow the four-day rule when given the OK-go.
The question of hormones and antibiotics given to livestock has become an increasing concern for mothers buying meat. Most experts argue that strict regulation and federal limits ensure that very little, if any, of the antibiotics given to livestock will make it into your food. However, farmers who do overuse antibiotics on their livestock do create public health concerns.
If you are worried about hormones or antibiotics, find brands of meat that have specific labels saying organic. Only organic certified animals are raised without any hormones, antibiotics, or other harmful chemicals that can remain in your food. Although some people understand free-range chicken to be synonymous with organic, it only actually means that the chickens have some ability to live and roam outside, but has nothing to do with hormones or antibiotics. For free-range chicken or eggs to be without added hormones or antibiotics, you must check the packaging for precise labels claiming no hormones or antibiotics. Also, the term “natural” only means that a product has been minimally processed—but once again, no direct affiliation with the addition of hormones and antibiotics or the lack thereof.
So remember, feeding meats to your baby is very important for his or her growth and development, but be aware of what products you buy from the supermarket and always read labels before feeding it to your family.
For more information, check out Baby Center