Weaning is a very exciting and interesting phase for both child as well as parents. Babies shift from breast milk and formula to solids and experience new tastes and textures. The first foods should be cereals, fruits and vegetables. Often these are introduces in mashed and pureed form. Gradually you must introduce meat as well. Initially, most babies don’t like taste of meat so it’s better to introduce a little meat loaded with her favorite veggies.
Solids are started after six months and it is recommended to introduce meat between 7-12 months of age. Also all kinds of meats must be given at least one time in between these months as you can easily identify allergens for babies and avoid those in future. Also the allergies don’t affect much and are easily recovered in this time interval.
Babies need molars to chew the pieces of meat, so it is good idea to introduce meat in form of soup, shredded or in pureed form. It is a good idea to see what pediatrician recommends so before starting with meat you should ask pediatrician about what to start and when to start.
Some things to consider while introducing meat in baby food are:
- It is recommended to start with chicken as it is milder in taste and mixes well with other fruits and vegetables. Then you can opt for fish as it has a very smooth texture.
- Buy organic meat. The meat which has hormones added is unhealthy for babies.
- Meat is high in protein and so limit the quantity as large amounts of proteins put strain on baby’s immature kidneys.
Preparation and cook tips:
- Tenderize the meat before cooking it. Remove all visible fat, placing it between plastic wraps and pounding. Heavy rolling pin or heavy pan can also be used.
- Pound the meat immediately after bringing home and then freeze it.
- Use marinating (in milk or yogurt) cooking technique only if baby is okay with dairy products. You may also use breast milk for marinating.
- If baby is sensitive to dairy products, you may use apple juice to marinate and simmer the meat.
- Pour the meat and marinating liquid in pan on high flame. Always cook by covering the lid for moisture.
- Don’t dry out the meat too much unless you are going to puree it.
- If you are giving pieces to baby, then cut into small pieces like that of cereal as big pieces pose choking hazard.
- Ensure that the mean is fully cooked and not raw. Cook it thoroughly for baby food.
Hygiene and safety tips:
- Use a clean knife and chopping board. It is preferable to use separate chopping boards for vegetarian and non-vegetarian chopping.
- Thaw the meat in refrigerator overnight instead of leaving it on counter.
- Use fresh meat and clean it thoroughly.
- Always wash your hands before preparing baby food.
TIP: Chicken breasts and cuts are lower in fats and higher in proteins while chicken legs or thighs are high in iron content. So if you need to boost your baby’s iron level, choose dark meat instead of light.
Processed meat – like ham, frankfurters and deli meats – are not suitable for your baby. Not only are they high in salt, they may also contain undesirable additives and many are made with dairy products, which may trigger an allergic reaction in a sensitive baby.
Basic recipes to introduce meat to baby
Chicken with veggies
- Take small pieces of chicken and vegetables like carrot, peas, broccoli etc.
- Put all ingredients in saucepan and homemade stock or broth.
- Simmer them until chicken is completely cooked and veggies are tender.
- Drain them and make puree using grinder. You may use stock while grinding if you want a thinner texture.
Chicken puree (marinating technique)
- Take chicken breasts/ thighs and add them in pan along with milk or yogurt (apple juice in case dairy sensitive).
- Cook it till it becomes tender. Don’t let it become tough or it will be difficult to make puree.
- You can sauté potato, garlic and carrot (or any veggies) in another pan.
- Once the ingredients cool down, use grinder to puree it.