Meat and high-protein foods: Best age for introducing to baby?

When is the best age to introduce meat to my baby? I know it is a good source of protein and I want to be certain that he is not getting enough protein to grow.

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Meat is a great source of protein -- as is fish, chicken, soy and dairy products. For babies, the age of seven to eight-months or older is the best time to introduce straight meat, or other high protein foods.

You are right to be concerned that the foods you serve your baby should replace those nutrients he is not getting as much of, as he is nursing less (or taking in less formula).

Your baby's kidneys are not mature enough to handle the stress that high concentrations of protein would put on them. Until the age of eight-months or older, any meat should be served only as a small part of another food, such as the combination dinners that are available from baby food manufacturers. You may also introduce some finely ground up, very moist, meat in small amounts as part of a meal. However, whole jars full of pureed meats are not appropriate for little babies.

Once your baby is closing in on his first birthday, then commercial baby food combination dinners containing meats may actually be too low in protein to provide any significant amount to his diet. Even the jars of commercial baby meats are too finely pureed to provide the needed textural stimulation. At this stage, you may wish to serve straight meat that you have prepared, with modifications to assure that it is texturally appropriate.

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