When my boys were about 7- or 8-months-old, we started incorporating meat, beans, and other protein into their diet. Of course, the first time I blended up some rotisserie chicken, I was pretty grossed out. Pureed meat just looks so unappetizing. But, to my surprise, they dug it. And here’s the thing: I was thrilled, because as any doctor or nutritionist will tell you though, protein is an essential part of a baby’s healthy diet. “Meat and certain other proteins are a great source of iron, especially if you’re breastfeeding, so you should start introducing a variety of them, along with any other solid foods, around 4-6 months of age,” says Wendy Sue Swanson, M.D., a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital and The Everett Clinic, and author of Mama Doc Medicine. “Not only are meats and other proteins important for avoiding anemia, but they’re also very important to healthy brain development.”
Well, you know what that means: Hit the drive-thru and blend up a Big Mac! Okay, not really, but baby does need a burger (grass-fed beef is preferable because it’s especially rich in iron)! Here are some great tips for making pureed meats even more delicious for your baby, along with a few recipes he’s sure to love…
1. Use more flavor-producing cooking methods. Good ones to try include broiling, sauteing, and baking. If you don’t love the flavor of boiled or steamed meats, why would your baby?
2. Puree meats when they are cold. Grinding them into a moist, powder-like consistency, and then add your liquid of choice.
3. Use flavorful liquids in your purees. Instead of using plain old water to blend up your protein (or any food for that matter), use milk, breast milk, formula, or vegetable broth which are all far more tasty.
4. Spice things up by adding dried herbs to your purees. Feeling adventurous? Try capers, sun dried tomatoes, or olives as well.
5. Swirl in some good quality extra virgin oil to your purees. Not only does olive oil add more flavor, but aids in digestion as well.
6. Use freshly grated Parmesan for delicious flavor. Since this is a new ingredient, be sure that you introduce it after your baby has had the protein by itself, just in case of allergies
7. Add extra vitamins to your protein purees by blending with veggies and fruits. Sweet potato and carrots, for example, are yummy with beef and chicken. Beets are a delicious match with salmon.
8. Yogurt, beans, and lentils are all excellent sources of meatless protein. You can blend pear and green beans or peaches and sweet potatoes into yogurt to make it even more nutritious; lentils and beans go with pretty much any veggie.
Here are some yummy, nutritious, easy-to-make meat-based recipes from Lisa Codina, of Bites for Babies:
More Baby Food Purees: