It’s recommended to introduce meat (or vegetarian iron sources, like tofu and lentils) at around 6 months old as this is when babies’ iron level requirements increase a lot more than what can be provided through breast milk or formula. But, I wasn’t sure how to actually introduce the meat. What do I cook it in? How do I feed it to him? I like my steak cooked medium rare, but is that okay for babies? Do I start with chicken or fish or red meat?
We ended up starting to introduce vegetables at around 5 months as we had a hungry little grub. So, when it came to introducing meat we had already established an eating routine and it just meant slipping it in to some of his vegetable combos that we had already tried.
I started with chicken first and then some beef, as chicken is slightly easier to digest than red meats. We didn’t do baby-lead-weaning, so it was a matter of pureeing meat…. What?! The concept of that was a bit weird for me. Perhaps a stupid question, but, how on earth do you do that? I thought about frying the chicken, but that might’ve been a bit dry, so I ended up sort of poaching it in some water instead, until it was cooked through. I then pureed it in with some steamed kumara and spinach. And… he loved it!
With beef, I fried some sirloin steak in some butter and pureed that; I didn’t bother with poaching it. I also fried it in some garlic too which little grub loved. When he got a little more dextrous, I also gave him strips of cooked steak or the “tail” end of lamb loin chops to snack on after his main meal. This was a massive hit!
One trick we tried (with both red meat and chicken) was to chop up some raw meat in to smaller chunks, freeze it in a snap lock bag and then if you’ve got some vegetables all ready to go, you can grate some of the frozen meat in to whatever vegetables you’re cooking. This is an alternative to pureeing cooked meat.
When it came to trying fish, I have a great salmon recipe (here’s the link) for you guys to try; this was the first fish dish he had and it went down very well, in fact he still loves it – make sure you check it out.
For those of you who are vegetarians, you’ll be proud to know I tried a tofu, broccoli and pumpkin puree. I fried the tofu in some olive oil and then pureed it with some roasted broccoli and pumpkin. I’ll be honest; the tofu doesn’t blend to a smooth texture, it stays quite lumpy. But he still ate it with no complaints! If you guys have any tips on serving tofu to little ones, please let me know! Lentils are great; they can be cooked in a few cups of water and then pureed or mashed quite easily with any other vegetables. I have a great lentil curry recipe which I’ll share soon.
So what are my tips for introducing meat?
- Start with chicken or fish for the first few times and then move to red meats
- If you’re pureeing food, it’s much easier to puree meat together with a starchy carbohydrate vegetable (like kumara or pumpkin) rather than on its own
- You can fry the meat in some butter or oil or you can poach it (basically fry in some water) until cooked through
- If poaching, reserve 1 or 2 tablespoons of the water and include in your puree’s; it’s full of the nutritious juices from the meat
- Don’t forget to try giving some strips of meat too; they love to gum the meat
Look out for some meat recipes to try over the next few weeks – your little grub will thank you!