Beef has long been a staple in the baby food aisle, but it’s not just the “old days.” Recent research has shown that beef can be one of the most nutrient-rich first foods for your growing infant or toddler.
The American Academy of Pediatrics even recommends beef as a first food for 6-7 month olds, especially those who are breastfeeding. It is a rich source of iron and protein, which are two essential nutrients babies need to grow up healthy.
You can offer ground beef as a meaty puree, or mixed with mashed carrots, turnip, potato and sweet potatoes to build texture into their diet. You can also serve it alongside a single grain cereal for more flavor and variety in their diet!
If you choose to give your beef baby food in a puree, make sure to use a very tender cut of beef or lamb. This will be more palatable for baby and less likely to cause choking hazards.
In a blender or food processor, combine the cooked beef with a small amount of water to make a smooth consistency. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you achieve the right texture for your baby’s needs.
Another option is to add a pinch of salt (not too much!) and to mix in a little vegetable puree, such as spinach or kale. This will add a bit more texture and taste, as well as extra vitamins.
Adding fruit and vegetables to beef is a great way to help your baby get more color, as well as more vitamin C, which is important for their immune system and growth! For an easy, wholesome lunch or dinner idea, try making a slow cooker beef stew.
You can also add a few sliced carrots and frozen peas to the stew mixture. Simmer on low until a thick sauce forms, and the vegetables are softened.
If you are preparing the beef stew in advance, store it in the refrigerator or freezer for up to 2 days. Or freeze in individual portions for up to 3 months.
As with any other food, it’s best to buy organic and grass-fed beef for optimal nutrition. Grass-fed beef is more expensive than conventionally raised, but it has the same nutrient profiles and is free of antibiotics and hormones that may be found in commercially processed meats.
It’s safe to eat beef for your baby, but some children have a beef allergy. In the unlikely event that your baby shows signs of an allergic reaction, contact your doctor immediately.
In addition to being a good source of iron and protein, beef is also a source of zinc, which plays a role in the development of your baby’s immune system and growth. Zinc is also involved in a healthy metabolism, boosting energy and supporting healthy brain development.
Choosing to feed your baby or toddler beef is one of the most gratifying and exciting experiences you can have as a parent! You’ll be able to share a nutritious, delicious meal with your baby and watch them smile as they enjoy their first bite of food.