Meat is an excellent source of iron, protein and various vitamins for your baby. Try to tell him that when you’re smuggling beef into his carrot puree or offering him a piece of chicken to tuck into.
We’re not talking the finest cut of filet mignon, cooked rare to go with his puree. This is about meat as a tasty, baby friendly protein and iron source – and it all comes down to preparation and a little time.
Choose your meat carefully
Try to get free range, farm-reared meat, so you can be sure you’re not feeding your baby anything with hormones or additives. It doesn’t matter if you start with poultry or red meat, just be prepared it’s normal for your baby to dislike the taste or texture at first. Just be patient and try re-introducing it again a few weeks later.
Introduce meat gradually
Meat is a great source of protein for your baby, but there’s no need to include it in every meal as there are plenty of other sources including cheese and well-cooked eggs. ‘It’s not necessary to include meat in your baby’s meals every single day,’ says senior nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, Bridget Benelam. ‘A couple of times a week is perfectly adequate.’
Soften the meat
Your baby may not have mastered chewing yet, or made swallowing his forte – so it’s best to tenderise the meat as much as you can. Cut away all the visible fat and pound the meat using a rolling pin to soften it up before cooking. You could also marinate it in apple juice to make it tender and give it a nice, baby palate friendly flavour. Or try marinating it in milk or yoghurt.
Slow cooked, tender meat that can be mashed up, pureed or torn into pea-sized pieces is ideal. You could also add cooked sweet potato to make it a smooth, easy-to-swallow paste. ‘Mixing it up in a casserole or stew is a great way to serve it to your baby,’ says Bridget.