When you have to introduce your baby to solid foods, you first think of all the mashed fruits and vegetables. However, your baby also needs proteins to grow rapidly, and the vegetarian sources of protein might be limited.
Non-vegetarian food is a source of protein, and you might, therefore, want to feed your baby fish or meat. But to do so, you have to keep a few things in mind.
First of all, remember that you still have to breastfeed your infant, and introducing mashed food has to be a gradual transition involving small amounts of food - a teaspoon or two per meal. In fact, until the age of 6 months, you should exclusively breastfeed him. While introducing food at the age of 6 months, start with plant-based foods - fruit and vegetable purees and soups. Wait until your baby is at least 9 months old before introducing non-vegetarian food, allowing adequate time for his digestive system and kidneys to develop.
Start with eggs.
Eggs have protein, vitamins and trace minerals that can do wonders for health. They have a lower protein content than chicken or fish and will be easier on a developing baby’s system. Remember to start with small, mashed portions. You might also want to check your baby for allergies to eggs. It is also advisable to feed your baby the yolk first as egg allergies are usually associated with egg white.
Fish and poultry
Wait until your baby is a year old to introduce fish and chicken. You can start with strained chicken broth, and then progress to minced/ mashed pieces of chicken. Due to the mercury risks, you may limit the servings of fish to about twice a week, and stick to lower mercury fish like salmon, sardines, and tuna. Introduce meat in small quantities - as little as 1/4th of an adult portion or less - as an excess of protein is harmful for digestion and his kidneys.
Red meat, like mutton, pork, beef, veal and lamb should not be introduced until your baby is at least 5 years old as it has too much protein and is difficult to digest.
These foods are complementary to breastfeeding, and are part of the weaning transition. Breastfeeding your child should continue so you only have to feed small quantities to your baby. Try to limit intake to 2 times a week.
Raw meat is bad for both babies and adults. Cook the meat well while taking care not to overcook it. Steamed and boiled meat is the safest. Try mincing or mashing it, and mix with rice. Wash and clean the meat well before cooking. Avoid processed meats and stick to home-cooked meat.
Non vegetarian foods are excellent sources of protein, fats, zinc, iron and vitamins. All these nutrients are absolutely crucial for an infant’s healthy development. Breastfeeding should be continued till the age of 2 years. To meet the demands of other nutrients required for optimal growth, nutrient dense foods such as fortified cereals can be introduced alongside breast milk and homemade complementary foods.
Disclaimer: All the information provided in the blog is for reference purposes only. Please do not consider this as a medical advice. Start Healthy Stay Healthy programme is for educational purposes only, in partnership with doctors. Always consult a doctor if you have any questions related to your own health or the health of your child.