Commonly Asked Questions about Offering Meats to Your Baby for Homemade Baby Food
Many parents wonder about feeding their babies meats. For example, a most often asked question about feeding baby meats is, "Should baby be fed chicken or beef as a first meat baby food?" You will find this answer, as well as other baby food meat related questions on this page. If you do not see your question here, please contact us. If we cannot answer your question about offering your baby meats, we will point you in the direction of someone who may.
Remember - It is important to fully cook any meats that will be served to baby or small child and ensure there are no "pink" areas left. Babies and small children should never eat any type of "rare" meats
Please visit our Vegetarian Baby to learn about not introducing meat into your baby's diet
Feeding and Cooking Meats for Your Baby - Click to Learn More
When Can I Start Feeding My Baby Meats?
Meats are now being recommended as a first food for babies, especially for breastfed babies. Many pediatric authorities, specifically in Canada, the EU and the U.K. recommend meat as one of baby's first solid foods. Meat may be a good first food but probably not THE first food. You might give meat a try between 6-8 months old.
Introducing meats earlier will help baby gain more iron, zinc and also protein. Offering meats around the time that baby's iron stores may be depleting will help ensure a steady stream of heme-iron. Meats are rich in this form of Iron that is most easily absorbed and used by our bodies. In the U.S., it is most often recommended that meats be introduced between 7-8 months of age with the advice of your pediatrician.
What is the meat that is best to introduce to baby first?
Chicken or turkey is generally recommended as the first meats to introduce to your baby. As always, it is recommended that you consult your pediatrician about introducing solid foods to your baby as generalities may not apply to your baby.
What is the best way to cook meats for my baby?
Baking is really the best methd of cooking any food. Baking food helps the foods retain the most of their nutrients.
Boiling/Poaching/Stewing Meats for Baby Food
You may boil/poach meats that you will use for baby food if you wish. The only drawback to this type of cooking method is that nutrients will leach into the cooking water. If you do not use the liquid that your foods have been cooked in, the nutrients, along with the liquid, will get tossed away. I agree, the amount of nutrients leached will be negligible but many parents wish to use the cooking method that will retain the most nutrients possible. Many parents have found that using the broths/juices that result from cooking meats oftentimes yields a "strong" tasting meat purée. While this strong taste may be fine for those infants accustomed to eating meats, many babies new to meats may refuse the first offerings.
If you are going to boil/poach or stew baby's meats, add a handful of a favorite fruit and simmer together for a nice tasty introduction to meats.
Crock pot or Slow-Cooker to Cook Meat for Baby Food
Using a crock pot or a slow-cooker to make meats for baby is a wonderful way to make a multi food combination meal. You may toss any foods that you want into the crock pot with the meat.
One of our favorite things to do is to take 3 chicken breasts (diced), a few carrots (diced and peeled), a diced onion and some other veggies and toss the whole lot into the pot. Add 4 or 5 cups of water and seasonings of your choice. All you need to do is turn the crock pot or slow-cooker on low and within 6-8 hours you have a nice meal.
Try using the vegetables and spices that your baby has already had when making meat(s) in a crock pot or slow-cooker. Spoon out a cup or 2 of the finished meal and puree or mash to baby's preferences.
What is the best way to puree meats?
We have found that the best way to puree meat is to make sure the cooked meat is COLD and is in no bigger than 1-2 inch chunks when you puree.
Grind up the meat first until it's almost like a clumpy powder. Add water/natural juices as the liquid if this will be your baby's first experience with meat. If you use the juices when first giving meats, the taste may be too strong. Using water to begin with might be best.
You can combine a fruit/veggie with the water as well. You'll have to experiment because all babies have different tolerances/preferences for tastes and textures.
Many parents have told us that they had great success with pureeing meat(s) when the meat(s) were hot or warm. Most often, this success was achieved when the meats had been boiled, poached or stewed in a crock-pot or slow-cooker.
Can I freeze meat purees?
You may pour the puree into ice cube trays the same way as you do for fruits and veggies.
There is a caveat however, when thawing the meat puree, it may become separated and/or a bit gritty.
This is nothing to be alarmed about but it may pose a "texture" issue for your baby.
Simply add some baby cereal, fruits, veggies or mashed potatoes to the puree and then warm.
Be sure to stir thoroughly to acquire the smooth puree and to ensure no hot pockets are left to burn baby if you use a microwave.
Can I feed my baby deli or lunch meats?
Deli and or Lunch meats should be avoided whenever possible unless you can find natural versions; this includes hot dogs.
These meats contain preservatives and chemicals; among them - sodium nitrite.
If you buy meats from the Deli, ask the clerk to show you the ingredients before you buy. Many stores will also bake their own meats like chicken, ham and turkey – those should not contain any additives or preservatives.
Try "tofu dogs" instead of regular hot dogs or buy only 100% natural 100% beef. We have found 100% natural and organic beef hot dogs at BJ's, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. Also, you may find natural and uncured bacon in many grocery stores now.
What about feeding my baby Tofu?
Visit this Tofu link to learn about the health benefits.
What about feeding my baby Fish?
What about Fish? Click here to learn about introducing Fish to your baby.