Iron is very important, especially after the first 6 months of a breastfed baby’s life. By this time their iron stores will start to become depleted and will need replenishing through the food that you feed them. If your baby is on an iron-fortified formula you should still be sure that you introduce iron rich foods, even if your child remains on the formula.
The main problem that I have seen with meat is one of food safety. Not only is it a question of what types of meat to give to your little one (organic or not and so forth) but also of safely eating it (chewing and swallowing without choking). Meat is tough and can be hard to chew, especially when you don’t have many teeth!
Deciding when to introduce meat to your child means that many factors must be considered. Does your child have multiple teeth? Does your child chew effectively? Does your child swallow effectively? I would suggest somewhere in between 9 to 12 months but this is a general guideline and must be tailored to fit your child. I would always suggest getting specific help for your child from a Registered Dietitian. Even when your child has their molars chewing the most tender and moist meat can still be difficult.
Another difficult decision that must be made is what types of meat to offer. I would not suggest giving your child any liver. Although it is a good source of iron it is also full of toxins. In descending order by iron content, consider beef, turkey, lamb, chicken and then pork. Fish is another great food for your baby. If there is a history of allergies in your family I would get more specific recommendations from a Registered Dietitian.
To prepare meat for you baby cook it using moist heat until it is very tender. It is important to cut the meat into very small pieces. Cut the meat across the grain and add additional water to the meat. Another way to introduce meat is by offering it in a casserole, just be sure you baby has had all of the other ingredients in the dish. You could also try a meatloaf or beef patty as long as the meat is well cooked and moist.
1-2 tablespoons is a serving of meat for your baby until about 3 years. I would aim to feed your child 2 servings of protein (not necessarily meat) everyday.
The subject of organic foods is a personal one, however I would recommend you buy your child organic meat. Organic meat is more expensive and I understand that for some people it is not an option. The amount of meat that is a serving for your child is very little therefore, any organic meat you buy for your child will go further. I would not recommend buying canned ‘baby food’ meat for your child. Organic or not I do not recommend buying ‘baby food’.
All the above information is general. For specific advice pertaining to your child, please consult a Registered Dietitian.
For more information on nutrition contact Jill, Nurture The Future’s Registered Dietitian at firstname.lastname@example.org