Although most parents wait to introduce meat to baby, there is really no reason to put it off. Your baby can try pureed meat as one of his earliest baby foods if you like, as there is no scientific evidence to show that introducing foods in a certain order matters one way or the other.
Meat is a wonderful source of iron, a vital mineral to your baby’s growth and development. Many babies are at risk for anemia, a condition that develops due to a deficiency of iron, and adding meat to your baby’s diet can help to prevent this. Although your baby does get iron from breast milk or formula, the additional iron in meat can fill in the gaps, and provide iron in a much more absorbable form for the body that that found in formula.
Which Meat to Start With?
You can start baby on whichever meat you prefer, although many parents choose poultry such as chicken or turkey. Beef is an acceptable choice as well. Make sure the meat is cooked thoroughly and pureed as smoothly as possible. Making a meat puree at home that is smooth enough for a very young baby to handle can be a bit challenging, so you might want to start with pureed meat in jars. This commercial baby food has been processed with much more powerful machines than your home food processor and will be a lot smoother.
Getting Baby to Try Meat
Meat is not usually a taste that attracts babies at first, so try mixing it with a fruit or vegetable baby has already had. In fact, this is one of the reasons to wait a bit on meat, at least until your baby has safely managed a few fruits and vegetables you can use to make the taste of the meat a bit more appealing.
It isn’t unusual for babies to reject meat altogether. Don’t worry if your baby isn’t interested in trying it. Meat has a very different texture and taste from fruits and vegetables, even when they are mixed together. It might be a while before your baby really starts to warm up to meat. Don’t push it too hard. Your baby is getting all the required nutrition from breast milk or formula, so meat isn’t a must any time soon – or ever really. If your baby continues to dislike meat even long past the puree stage, there are plenty of other foods that provide the protein and iron usually added to the diet from meats.
When your baby is ready to chew food and eat things a little bit closer to table foods, you might find a renewed interest in meat. Pureed meat is not the most appetizing thing in the world, so when your baby is old enough to try small pieces that can be chewed you might see a different reaction.
Make sure to cut very small pieces of meat to avoid choking, and start with more tender meats that have been cooked well, such as dark meat chicken. A slow cooker is a great way to prepare juicy, tender meat for baby that will be easy to break down.
As your baby develops a more sophisticated palate, you can season the meat to make it taste much better and improve the chances your baby will be willing to give it more than a passing glance.