When Can Babies Eat Meat?

image001Most parents love watching their child try new foods and slowly develop flavor preferences as they start to be less dependent on breast milk. Although the first foods including vegetables, fruits, and cereal can be exciting, you can eventually start introducing meats also. Here are some tips to learn how and when to start introducing meats into your baby’s diet.

When Can Babies Eat Meat?

Babies can start eating meat after they willingly have cereal as well as strained vegetables and fruits between 7 and 10 months. You should always start with strained meats or pureed ones as babies can still gag without molars for chewing. If your baby doesn’t seem interested in the meat right away, wait a few weeks as some do better at 9 months of age. This is when they start to get bored with cereal, vegetables and fruits and want something else to try. Keep in mind that it takes babies longer to get used to meat than with other foods because of the new texture as well as flavor.

How to Introduce Meat to Baby

After knowing when can babies eat meat, the next step is to know how to feed meat to babies. Some parents are concerned that meat can be harder for your baby to digest than most of their fruits and vegetables. When you tenderize, cook and puree the meat, however, this makes it much easier to digest by breaking down connective tissues and fiber.

1´╝ÄPound Your Meat As Soon As You Bring It Home

Remove the visible fat and then pound the meat between pieces of plastic. Flatten the meat until it reaches the ideal thickness of between a quarter and half an inch.

2. Marinate Meat

  • Milk or yogurt

Many types of food around the world marinate meat in yogurt or milk to help tenderize it. Never do this for babies with sensitivity to dairy.

  • Apple juice

Another option is to marinate meat in apple juice to tenderize it. Afterwards simmer it in the juice for cooking.

3. Puree Meat for Baby Food

Some parents like to puree meat when their babies first try it. This reduces the choking hazard and makes it more digestible. It also makes it easier to absorb the iron.

Methods

Processes

Grind meat finely

First let the meat cool completely before cutting it into tiny pieces. Put small quantities into a blender until it becomes powdery.

Add a little liquid while pureeing

If you want to puree meat while it is warm, try adding a bit of liquid (like the broth) to make it easier.

Add a little cooked potato while pureeing

To make the puree smoother, add some cooked sweet potato before blending.

4. Cook Meat Properly

Methods

Processes

Do not dry meat out too much

You should never let the meat dry out too much while cooking it as this makes it tough and unappealing. The exception is if you are giving it a powder-like consistency. Always remember to cook the meat thoroughly.

Cook within stews or casseroles

This breaks the meat down, makes it tender and adds flavor.

Use a hot pan

When frying meat, always use a pan that is very hot as it makes it tenderer. With very thick cuts, lower the heat and cover the pan to keep moisture in and prevent uneven cooking.

Cook meat in foil

You can use “moist heat cooking” by cooking the meat in foil. Loosely wrap the meat, folding down the edges. Remember that cooking time can vary but most chicken breast will be cooked in 30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Simmer meat in broth/stock

To easily cook your baby’s food, try simmering the meat in stock or broth. When the meal is almost done, add diced veggies. You can do this on the stove or in the oven but if you simmer the meat in the oven, be sure to use an oven-proof dish and completely cover the meat with the broth or stock.

Shred raw meat

If you want your baby to feed himself or herself with the meat, try shredding it using fork tines or a knife tip. You can then simmer the scraps in stock to cook them and serve as finger food.

You can watch this video to learn more about how to cook meat for baby:

Do’s and Don’ts About Feeding Meat to Babies

Do’s and Don’ts

Descriptions

Do not give your baby undercooked meat or poultry

Never give your baby meat or poultry that is undercooked. It should always follow Food Safety Guidelines and be thoroughly cooked.

Do not thaw or cook meat in the microwave

Never cook or thaw meat using the microwave. It may start cooking unevenly as the edges may start cooking while the inside is not yet even defrosted. This uneven cooking can lead to food poisoning. If you set microwaved meat aside to use later, bacteria can develop further increasing your baby’s risk of food poisoning.

Do not freeze dishes containing previously frozen breast milk

Although you can thaw meet, cook it, then freeze leftovers, you should never do this if the dish contains previously frozen breast milk. It is unsafe to refreeze previously frozen breast milk.

Do not give your baby processed meat

Never give your child processed meats (ham, deli meats, etc.) as they have high salt content as well as undesirable additives. These processed meats may also be made using dairy products and if your baby is sensitive, this can lead to an allergic reaction.

Purchase organic, grass-fed and local meat

When you can, purchase meat that is local, grass-fed and organic. This will help ensure that the meat does not contain any additives or hormones that could negatively affect your baby.