In the past, when recommending solid foods for a baby’s diet, medical professionals advised that cereals, vegetables and fruits were introduced first, followed by meats at around 7 months of age, beginning with light meats like chicken and turkey. Recent research, however, suggests that meat should be introduced sooner – possible even as one of the very first solid foods from the age of 6 months.
If your baby is breast fed, this could be even more advisable, because your baby’s body can absorb iron from the breast milk easily, but when you begin to introduce solid foods he or she will absorb less iron, as the iron in breast milk becomes ‘bound’ by the solid food – usually infant rice cereal.This makes it very important that any solid food you give to your previously exclusively breastfed baby is high in iron, and one of the best sources of iron is meat – especially beef and lamb.New research has also established that it is best to grind meat very finely so that your baby’s body can absorb the iron more easily.
When you do begin to introduce meat into your baby’s diet there are some things for you to consider, to ensure baby’s health and safety:
- Meat is a high protein food – large amounts of protein may put too much strain on your baby’s immature kidneys. It is best to offer a little meat mixed with other foods – such as pureed vegetables – as regular small ‘meals’
- Do not give undercooked meat or poultry to your baby – meat must be cooked thoroughly according food safety guidelines, to avoid any risk of food poisoning.
- Do not thaw meat or poultry in the microwave. If it is thawed in the microwave meat sometimes begins to cook around the edges before it is completely defrosted in the middle, then if it is put aside to use later, bacteria may develop.
- Do not cook meat in the microwave as it may not cook evenly - putting your baby at risk of food poisoning.
- It is OK to thaw meat, then cook it and freeze the prepared baby food- unless you have used previously frozen breast milk in the dish, in which case it would not be safe to freeze it, it should be eaten at once.
- Remember that any food may cause an allergic reaction, and this includes meat. Only introduce one new meat at a time and follow The Four-Day Rule, watching carefully for any sign of reaction or digestive problem.
- Do not give your baby processed meats – such as ham, frankfurters, salamis and other delicatessen meats – as they are high in salt and may contain additives, colourings or dairy products that could cause an allergic reaction in your baby.
This information presented to you acts as a guide which contains researched information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.