When can babies have meat baby food

When Can Babies Have Meat? Introducing Meat to Your Baby’s Diet – Serenity Kids

For the first six months of your baby’s life, all of their nutrition comes from either breast milk, formula, or a combination of both. While you were probably excited and anxiously waiting for your little one to show signs that they are ready to begin solids, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed now that they are finally ready. 

You may find yourself wondering what their first foods should be and when you can offer them certain foods, like meat. Although meat may seem a little intimidating at first, it’s packed with complete protein, vitamins, antioxidants, and key nutrients that are crucial for your baby’s growth—and it’s actually easier for your baby to digest than any other food group.

In this article, we'll explore the nutritious benefits of feeding your baby meat, tips for introducing it to your baby, how to prepare it according to their age, and the potential risks associated with feeding it to your baby. We'll also provide delicious, baby-friendly meat recipes and discuss meat alternatives. 

All you need to know about giving meat to a baby

While meat is generally included in a healthy, well-balanced diet, it’s especially important for babies as they grow. Foods like pasture-raised beef, turkey, chicken, pork, and fish are some of the best sources for bioavailable vitamins and nutrients, such as zinc and iron, which help strengthen their immune system and reinforce brain development. Meat is recognized as one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, making it an ideal choice when Every Bite Counts®. 

Meat is also the best source of high-quality protein, which plays an essential role in many bodily functions. It helps provide the body with energy, repair tissues, and develop organs properly — all of which are crucial for your baby’s growing body.

Is it healthy to give meat to a baby? 

Once your baby is at least six months of age and has demonstrated the five main signs of readiness to begin eating solids, meat is a nutritious and delicious option for most babies. Because breastmilk is technically an animal product, a baby’s tummy contains all the enzymes necessary to digest meat and other animal products. In fact, they can digest animal products better than any other food group. 

While the specific nutrition will vary depending on the type of meat you choose, offering your little one a variety of meats is a great way to incorporate different nutrients into your baby’s diet, while also taking advantage of the flavor window.  

How can you choose and store meat for your baby?

In most cases, your baby should be able to eat most kinds of meat right off the bat. Introducing them to different types of meat will also offer a wider range of vitamins and nutrients. We recommend choosing high-quality, ethically sourced meat from regenerative agriculture whenever possible. (Fun fact: three of our meat purees are even Land to Market verified!) 

Common meat options include: 

  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Goat
  • Turkey
  • Bison
  • Fish

Your baby can also eat other types of meats, such as organ meats. Some common organ meats include:

  • Liver, which is rich in vitamin A, folic acid, iron, and zinc (Check out our article on How to Make Liver Bone Broth, which is a great way to get your baby some extra nutrients)
  • Heart, which is rich in iron, zinc, selenium, and folate
  • Kidney, which contains omega 3 fatty acids

Although most babies can eat all types of meat, preparation and storage are important to ensure the safety of your little one. For example, purees, ground meat, and meatballs can be stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. On the other hand, meat strips, shredded meat, and meat on the bone will generally stay fresh 3-4 days.

What to avoid when introducing meat into a baby's diet? 

Although you should aim to introduce your baby to a wide range of meats, there are several precautions that you should take to ensure your baby’s safety. 

  • Limit deli meats, hot dogs, and fried meats until 12 months. These processed meats are generally higher in preservatives and sodium.
  • Avoid reheating meat more than once, when possible. Cooling and reheating food more than once can increase the potential for bacteria growth.
  • Limit consumption of fish that are high in mercury, such as swordfish and king mackerel
  • Ensure that you always give your baby fully cooked meat until 12+ months. This means the meat should reach a specified internal temperature, typically ranging from 145-165°F as designated by the FDA, based on the type of meat. It also shouldn’t be rare or medium-rare until 12+ months

How to introduce meat to a baby? 

Once your baby has turned six months old and has met the five signs of readiness for starting solids, meat is a great food to use as the basis of their solid food diet. Meat tends to be coarser than many other foods, so you may have to slightly alter how you prepare it, based on the age of your child.

Experts generally suggest preparing purees or pre-chewing meat for younger babies, while shredded, ground, and cubed meats are usually acceptable for older babies and toddlers. This will help ensure that your child is getting the nutritious benefits of meat, regardless of their age. 

Pre-chewing (called premastication) may sound gross and might not be for every parent, but is an excellent way to share the meat you're eating with your baby. In fact, the enzymes in your mouth actually aid in its digestion. 

It’s important to pay attention to your child’s current development, such as how well they are able to chew, when deciding how to introduce meat into their diet.

How can you prepare healthy, delicious meat for a baby according to age? 

While we love the Baby-Led Introduction to Solids (BLISS) method, which combines both purees and baby-led weaning, you may choose to follow a more traditional approach when you prepare meat for your baby. This generally consists of starting with purees and working up to small pieces of food as they get older and better at chewing. 

To learn more about the BLISS method of introducing solids, visit our article on Introducing Solids: Why We Love Both Baby-Led Weaning and Purees.

Meat for a 6-old-month baby

Purees are a great option for many parents who don’t feel ready to give their baby coarser textures or meat prepared in other ways. Not only is there less risk of choking with purees, it may be easier to provide more nutrients and flavors to their diet. 

Simply cook your chosen meat and puree it in a blender or food processor until it’s a smooth consistency. Add water or breast milk to thin as needed. You may find that your baby does better with thinner purees to start, but quickly learns to handle thicker consistencies. 

If you don’t have time to make it yourself or aren’t interested in premastication, Serenity Kids Ethically Sourced Meats Variety Pack and Bone Broth Variety Pack are convenient and nutritious options for babies who aren’t quite ready to handle shredded or smaller cut meat.  

Meat for a 9-month-old baby 

As your baby gets older, they’ll be able to better handle chewing and digesting larger, solid pieces of food. This is a great time to begin giving your baby finger foods, like shredded or thinly sliced meat. 

This will also help develop their motor skills, like the pincer grasp, as they learn to pick up food and bring it to their mouth. To learn more about the pincer grasp, visit our article one What is the pincer grasp and when do babies develop it.  

Meat for toddlers

Once your child has shown that they can safely handle shredded meats, you can begin giving them smaller pieces of meat, like ground chicken or beef. By this time, their pincer grasp should be well-developed, making it easier for your little one to pick up the smaller pieces of finger food. They also likely have teeth coming through that will help chew up these smaller bite sized pieces.

Delicious meat recipes that will satisfy your baby’s palate

While babies can often just eat a version of whatever you’re having for dinner, here are some delicious meal ideas to help encourage your baby to eat meat.  

Homemade uncured bacon baby food

Pork contains the fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are critical for normal brain development and function. 

This homemade baby food recipe uses uncured bacon, ground pork, butternut squash, and spinach to provide your little one with a boost of vitamin D and vitamin E.

Visit our Homemade Bacon Baby Food Recipe.

Savory toddler pancakes

This recipe incorporates our 100% Grass-Fed Bison Food Pouch with Organic Kabocha Squash & Spinach with egg, ricotta cheese, and vegetables.

Visit our Savory Pancakes recipe.

Toddler-Approved Beef & Broccoli

We love that this recipe literally takes ten minutes or less (while still packing in balanced nutrition thanks to nutrient-dense ingredients).

This recipe incorporates our Beef Puree; check out the step-by-step process here.  

Meatballs with mashed potato

This simple recipe combines ground beef with mashed potato to make a delicious meal for your baby. You could also opt for sweet potatoes or add herbs to give your baby a taste of different flavors, as well as added nutritional benefits. 

For extra flavor and a boost of protein and amino acids, use our Turkey Bolognese with Bone Broth puree as a sauce for your meatballs. You could also use tomato sauce or season with mild chili powder for a different flavor. 

Visit this Baby Meatballs Recipe.

Can meat be a hazard for a baby? 

Like any other food, there are potential risks when it comes to incorporating meat into your child’s diet. 

Can meat choke your baby? 

Meat tends to be coarser and harder to chew than some of the softer foods. With that, meat could be a choking hazard if not prepared correctly, which is why you shouldn’t offer small cuts of meat to your baby before they are ready. 

Feeding your baby foods that are prepared and cut age-appropriately will greatly reduce their risk for choking — although it won’t ever remove the risk completely. It’s also important to always put your child in a safe eating position and to keep a close eye on them while they are eating. 

Is there a meat allergy?

Although food allergies are relatively common, meat allergies are extremely rare. In some cases, however, parents find that their child may have an allergic reaction to certain meats.

Common symptoms of a food allergy include: 

  • Hives or skin reaction
  • Itching
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

For parents concerned about allergies, it’s a common practice to introduce one food at a time in case your baby reacts to something they’ve eaten. This can help you identify possible food allergies.

When to get medical advice?  

If your baby is showing any signs of an allergic reaction to something they’ve eaten, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional immediately. They will help treat your child and determine the underlying cause of the reaction.  

They may recommend a skin prick allergy test, followed by blood work to identify specific allergens that may be affecting your little one. We aren’t health professionals so we always advise you to consult with yours. 

So what’s the bottom line?

Starting your baby on solids can be a little nerve-racking, between navigating which foods are best and how to prepare them. Fortunately, babies can eat nearly everything that adults can eat, including meat. Not only is meat a nutritious option, there are many different ways to prepare it, making it an ideal first food for babies. 

And for when you need an easy option for busy nights or days spent on-the-go, Serenity Kids has a variety of ethically-sourced meat purees ready to be enjoyed by your little one. 

Written by Jennifer Wirth. Jennifer is a professional health writer, leveraging her scientific background as a Chemical Engineer to uncover the most interesting aspects of infant nutrition, pregnancy, and parenting. As a wife and mother of three young children, Jennifer is passionate about providing the best possible nutrition for her family. She believes that developing healthy eating habits early helps build the foundation for a long, fulfilling life.

When babies can have chicken and other kinds of meat

Your baby can eat meat that has been pureed to a very thin, smooth consistency as soon as they start eating solid food, usually around 6 months old. It doesn't matter whether you introduce beef, poultry, or another type of meat first.

Some babies don't like meat as much as fruits and vegetables, which tend to be sweet. If that's the case, try mixing your baby's favorite fruit or vegetable into pureed, slightly warmed meat to help them adapt to the new flavor.

If your baby won't eat meat at first, you can wait a few weeks and then try again. Babies don't have to eat meat, but it's full of important nutrients and is a great first food.

Is meat healthy for babies?

Meat contains easily absorbed sources of iron and zinc that your baby needs as they grow. Breast milk doesn't have much iron in it, so while most babies have enough iron stored in their bodies for the first few months of life, they need another source by the time they're around 6 months old. That's why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that your baby's first foods include either meat or iron-fortified cereals. (If your baby is fed with an iron-fortified formula, they don't need iron from other sources.)

And, of course, meat is a great source of protein. Experts recommend that babies 7 to 12 months old get 11 grams of protein per day, which they primarily get from breast milk or formula. It's very rare for babies in the United States to be protein deficient, so don't worry too much about getting tons of protein into your baby's diet.

Avoid giving your baby processed meats, like sausage, hot dogs, bologna, and Spam, until they're at least 1 year old – and even then, serve these foods sparingly, since they tend to be high in sodium and nitrates.

Can babies be allergic to meat?

Meat allergies aren't common, but they can happen. When trying a new food, experts recommend giving it to your baby at home, rather than at daycare or a restaurant. Serve it for three to five days before offering another new food; that way you can monitor your baby for a reaction and know what's likely causing it. That goes for different types of meat, too – start with one kind (say, ground chicken) and wait a few days before introducing another (like beef or pork).

Food allergy symptoms range from mild to severe; sometimes they show up immediately, but it could also take hours for symptoms to develop. Milder symptoms that don't require immediate medical attention include itchiness in the eyes, ears, throat, nose, or mouth; coughing; nausea and vomiting; diarrhea; and swelling around the tongue and lips.

Call 911 if any of these mild symptoms become more severe; if your baby is having trouble breathing; or if your baby is showing symptoms involving more than one part of the body.

Advertisement | page continues below

How to serve meat to babies

To prevent choking, puree any meat you feed your baby into a smooth, thin consistency. You can add water or some cooked pureed fruit or vegetables to get it to the right texture.

Don't offer your baby pieces of meat until they've been eating other finger foods successfully and have several teeth (at around 8 to 10 months old) – and then start with well-cooked, finely chopped pieces.

Try these recipes with meat for your baby:

  • Turkey or chicken puree
  • Chicken curry with green beans and zucchini
  • Shepherd's pie

Was this article helpful?



What kind of meat to start complementary foods for a child - when to introduce meat complementary foods

If the baby is already familiar not only with breast milk or formula, but also with cereals, vegetable purees, you can continue to expand his diet. According to the National program for optimizing the feeding of children in the first year of life in the Russian Federation, meat can be introduced from the age of 6 months, after the child has become acquainted with vegetable complementary foods and the first cereals.

Meat is the richest source of animal protein, vitamins and easily digestible iron necessary for healthy growth. About how to properly introduce meat into the diet of the baby - in our article. nine0003

The benefits and harms of meat for an infant

For healthy growth, a child in the first year of life should receive the following useful substances contained in meat with food:

Dietary proteins that serve as a source of amino acids, including essential ones for the growth of all the cells of one's own body;

B vitamins;

iron, magnesium, zinc and other trace elements;

Saturated fats, which are essential for energy and body building. nine0003

Complementary meats are denser than vegetables, fruits or grains, and their introduction stimulates the further development of chewing skills, as well as the work of the digestive enzymes of the pancreas, which break down protein and fat components.

It is important to introduce meat complementary foods correctly so that new, yet unfamiliar food for the child does not cause negative reactions from the digestive system and the whole body: . Lamb, pork, horse meat, duck, goose and wild animals are not suitable for complementary foods! They are introduced into the diet after 2-3 years of age. nine0003

No salt, artificial preservatives or chemical additives in baby foods. It is acceptable to add herbs and natural spices.

Like any new product, you need to start giving meat puree in small portions, evaluating the reaction to it (there should be no manifestations of allergies, problems with stools, ailments).

If your pediatrician has special recommendations for the introduction of complementary foods (for example, due to food allergies or the risk of anemia), it is important to strictly follow them. nine0003

How to introduce meat into complementary foods

You need to introduce meat products into the diet, observing the following basic rules:

·                                                                                                                                                                       * They are increased gradually if there are no allergies or digestive disorders.

· Meat products are traditionally offered during the day, at lunchtime. They must be mixed with vegetable or fruit purees, because. this improves the absorption of iron from both meat and vegetables/fruits. nine0003

· Only one new food is introduced at a time so that the child's response can be assessed correctly.

If the baby refuses to taste the meat, if he does not like the taste, you do not need to force him. Try again the next day, and for a more familiar and pleasant taste, mix the meat with fruit puree. You can also make steam homemade meatballs or meatballs and offer them to your child right in the pen - perhaps in this form it will be interesting for him to try something new. nine0003

· From the age of 7-9 months, the child can be gradually offered meat not only in the form of mashed potatoes, but also in the form of dishes from the general table - these can be meatballs, as well as tender soft pieces of stew. You can spread mashed meat on bread, like a pate, and offer your child tiny “sandwiches”.

What kind of meat is suitable for complementary foods

There are varieties of meat that are especially suitable for babies in the first year of life for the first complementary foods and expansion of the diet. It is recommended to enter them in the following order:

low-allergenic rabbit or turkey first;

then chicken (chicken), beef (veal), lamb.

Rabbit meat is low-allergenic, low-fat, highly digestible, rich in vitamins and minerals. Rabbit meat proteins contain all the essential amino acids.

The turkey is also good for the first foods, it contains a lot of iron, calcium, phosphorus. This is a low-fat and easily digestible meat with excellent nutritional properties. nine0003

Chicken is introduced into the diet with caution - it can provoke food allergies. To correctly assess the reaction, it is better to choose a period when the baby feels good (does not get sick, his teeth are not cut, there are no vaccinations), when other new products are not introduced.

Finally, veal can be used for first foods. This is a nutritious meat that contains a lot of iron, which is quite well absorbed. Veal proteins contain all the necessary amino acids, vitamins and minerals. nine0003

How to cook meat for the first feeding

Often, mashed meat is introduced even before teeth appear, when the baby cannot chew. Therefore, it should be tender, homogeneous, have a light texture. It is prepared by boiling the pulp without adding salt. To obtain a puree-like homogeneous mass, you can use a blender that needs to process the product several times.

But it is much more convenient to use special baby food. Complementary foods of industrial production, in particular meat puree, have a guaranteed safe composition, optimal consistency, eliminate the need to mess around in the kitchen with long preparation (you must admit, this is a waste of time, because at first the baby eats only a couple of spoons). nine0003

What kind of meat puree to choose for complementary foods

As we have already found out, the ideal first meat food is:

Industrially produced puree, not homemade.

Firstly, ready-made baby food is guaranteed to be chemically and microbiologically safe, which cannot be said about products bought in a store or on the market. Such meat may contain an excessive amount of antibiotics, hormones and other substances that are dangerous for the baby.

Secondly, ready-made meat purees have a consistency suitable for a small child, eliminating the possibility that the baby will choke or be unable to chew food. At home, achieving such uniformity is quite difficult.

Product without salt, starch, vegetable protein.

At the same time, meat purees can contain vegetable oil, lemon juice (to improve iron absorption), sometimes rice or corn flour - to create an optimal thick consistency. nine0003

Low allergenic meats.

Well, if the first meat puree is from the most low-allergenic types of meat - rabbit or turkey.

Heinz offers ready-to-use monocomponent baby food made from rabbit, turkey, chicken, veal. It does not contain salt, preservatives or other undesirable additives.

From the age of 6 months, children can also be served Heinz ready meals: beef with vegetables, sauté, stews and others. They will help to expand the diet of the baby, introduce him to new tastes, provide a healthy and balanced diet. nine0003

when and how much meat to give, how to enter


Published: 07.10.2019

Reading time: 4 min.

Number of reads: 79563

Meat plays an important role in feeding a child: it contains a large amount of protein, and is also the main source of iron, which contributes to normal growth and development. Its absence in the diet can lead to anemia and rickets. In order for the products to be well absorbed, you need to choose the right time to introduce complementary foods and the right type of meat. The diet of an infant and a child over 1 year old should be balanced, so you should also not forget about cereals, vegetables and fruits - they are no less important for the baby's health. nine0003

Content: Hide

  1. From what age can I give meat
  2. Useful properties
  3. Can meat be harmful
  4. Differences in varieties
  5. Several important issues
  6. What meat is not given?
  7. How to calculate the amount of meat?
  8. How often to add meat to the children's menu?
  9. Benefits of mashed potatoes

At what age can meat be given

Complementary feeding usually begins at 4–6 months of age. The timing is relevant for both IV and breastfeeding children. This takes into account the individual characteristics of the baby and his readiness to perceive new food. The preferred age for introducing complementary foods into a healthy baby's diet is 5 months. In any case, the very first product on the baby’s menu is not meat, but porridge or vegetable puree. Only after the body has adapted to them, it will be possible to further expand the diet. Do not forget that each child is individual, so nutritional habits may vary. However, 6 months is taken as the average age when meat is introduced to a child. There are canned meat (raw meat 40–65%), meat and vegetable (10–20%) and vegetable-based with meat (less than 10%). Meatballs are also produced. nine0003

According to the "National program for optimizing the feeding of children in the first year of life in the Russian Federation", meat complementary foods should be prescribed no later than six months. Meat in the baby's complementary foods should appear after the introduction of cereals (porridge) and vegetable dishes. Meat supplements are especially needed for children who tend to develop iron deficiency anemia.


Complementary foods should not be started too early, when the body is not yet ready for such food. This can lead to disorders and allergies. However, with timely introduction to the diet, the product will be very useful:

  • is a source of protein that is essential for growth and is used as a building material in the body. The protein content in canned meat for children (mashed beef, rabbit meat, poultry (chickens, turkey), lamb, etc.) is 8–10%;
  • is a product rich in micro and macro elements (iron, magnesium, zinc), as well as vitamins B₁, B₂, B₆ and B₁₂;
  • contains a rich set of amino acids that can only be obtained from food;
  • Heme iron found in meat is absorbed faster than the same element from plant products; nine0124
  • fibrous structure helps to develop chewing skills faster.

Can Meat Be Harmful

Some types of meat cause allergic reactions, and in large quantities this product puts a strain on the kidneys. It is also worth following certain recommendations when choosing, for example, giving low-fat varieties. The guide to baby food, edited by V. Tutelyan and I. Kon, suggests introducing meat at 9 months. It is best to use quail, rabbit, turkey, chicken for this. How well a particular type of meat is digested can be determined by the consistency of the stool. In case of any problems, symptoms from the gastrointestinal tract may occur: increased gas formation, bloating, discomfort. nine0003

Basic rules

Keep order. At least two weeks must pass between the appearance of new products in the diet, regardless of whether it is meat or something else. The child should gradually get used to previously unfamiliar food and adapt. However, if he does not eat what is offered, do not give up and try to do it again. It can take 7-10 days to form a habit.

Feed small meals. It is recommended to start with 5 g and gradually increase the amount to the age norm (in 6 months, the norm of commercially produced meat puree is 5-30 g). You can mix meat puree with vegetables that are already well known to the baby, or dilute with breast milk. Also make sure that the consistency of the food is not thick, but not too liquid. nine0003

Watch your reaction closely. It is better to give new foods in the morning to make sure they are absorbed properly. If the child develops redness or other signs of allergy, you should consult a doctor. After the negative effects have passed, you can try in two weeks to offer a different type of meat.

Do not use spices. Salt, pepper or other seasonings should not be present in the food, as they create an unnecessary burden on the pancreas and kidneys. A small amount of vegetable oil is allowed. If you buy ready-made puree, be sure to pay attention to the composition. nine0003

Read also: Learning to live with taste

Variety differences

Not all mothers know what meat to start complementary foods with. In some cases, it is worth considering the individual characteristics of the organism. If the child is prone to allergic reactions from the skin or intestines, then it is better to choose turkey or rabbit meat. Children who cannot digest cow's milk proteins should not be given veal and beef. When the child has already become acquainted with different types of meat, you need to alternate them in the diet - this helps to avoid allergic manifestations and makes the menu more diverse. Each meat product has its own characteristics:

  • rabbit meat. Has a higher concentration of iron, phosphorus and B vitamins than other varieties. Well absorbed in most cases, less calories;
  • turkey. Contains phosphorus, calcium, iron, vitamins A and B. Improves appetite, has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system;
  • veal. Contains carotene, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium. These substances help strengthen bones and muscles; nine0124
  • chicken. Tender and rich in amino acids meat, but it often causes allergies, so it is better to introduce it with caution.

Some important questions

What kind of meat not to give?

Pork is not the best option due to its high fat content, it should be introduced later than other types. The meat of geese and ducks contains refractory fats that the digestive system cannot cope with yet. These varieties up to 3 years old should not be included in the diet. nine0239

How often should meat be added to the children's menu?

How many times a week to give meat depends on the variety. Lean rabbit meat can be eaten every day, as well as veal, if you are not allergic to it. Chicken, turkey or pork should be limited to 2-3 times every 7 days.

Benefits of ready-to-eat purees

You don't have to make your own, baby food is available. This solution also has its advantages:

  • the mother will be able to devote more time to the baby, since she does not have to stand at the stove, because the puree from the jar just needs to be warmed up; nine0124
  • products are labeled according to the degree of grinding, so you can find the right option for every age. There are homogenized, puree and ready-made dishes - meatballs or cutlets;
  • meat can be combined with other healthy ingredients - cereals or vegetables.

The production of baby food is subject to very strict requirements, so all processes are carefully controlled.

Learn more