Starting meat

I have a six month old son and everything I read seems to have a different opinion on when to start feeding meat, chicken and fish. I make most of my own baby food and he has already gone through most fruit and veggies, rice, and yogurt. When is it safe to start meat?

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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

Dear Brad,

The best time to start meat is about when your baby begins on table foods. At that time, your baby has experimented with lots of other foods, like cereal, veggies, etc. and is ready to move on to more textured things. Simultaneously, formula or breast milk consumption has been dropping due to the increase of solids.

Because of this drop, it is necessary to find some non-milk source of protein to replace what baby is not getting from the milk. A good way to replace it is to introduce concentrated sources of protein such as meat, poultry, fish, cooked dried beans or peanut butter. In general the age this transition occurs is somewhere between 7 and 10 months. At six months, your son is on the early side, but all babies have their own schedule, some deciding not to wait until the charts tell them it's okay. Your son may be one of those. You will need to assess his diet, and his chewing and swallowing ability to make the decision as to the timing of adding meat to his diet.

Developmentally, baby's won't have the necessary molars for chewing many kinds of meat until they are much older, and so you will need to be selective in those meats you serve. You may also need to modify the texture. Some of the best meats for baby are hamburger meat, flaky fish and tender poultry. A baby food grinder can be used to grind the meat you are serving at the table. You will probably need to add a little broth or water to moisten the meat. It also helps to mix it with some of the vegetables or potatoes as you put it through the grinder because meat is often too tough and too dry to eat separately. Roughly, one ounce of meat is equivalent to one cup of formula or milk on protein content.

If you have any great homemade baby food recipes, send them my way and I will do a nutritional analysis on them and share them with readers!

Thank you for writing.

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