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How to Serve Meat to Babies

How to Serve Meat to Babies 

Dust off your slow-cooker and pull out your best roasting pan because today we are looking into how to safely provide meat to babies when doing Baby Led Weaning (BLW). I also answer your questions at the end so read on.


Why Meat?

At around 6 months old, your baby’s iron needs are the highest they will ever be. Meat is not only rich in iron, but it has a special type of iron that’s only found in foods from animals. This type is better absorbed by your baby than the iron found in plants. Meat also has lots of protein, zinc, vitamin B12 and fats. Since your baby is probably not eating a large amount of food at this age, meat is a “bang for your bite” food.  Even just sucking on the meat juices provides that precious iron and other minerals.


Here, a little one enjoys a soft chicken meatball, perfectly safe for baby led weaning


Before doing Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) with your baby, it is important to proceed safely by contacting a pediatric registered dietitian. Among other things, make sure that:

  • your baby is ready and does not start too early
  • your baby is sitting at 90 degrees
  • you do not place food in his/her mouth with your fingers
  • the environment is calm during meals
  • you offer the right foods to your baby (always test the texture of the food in between your tongue and roof of your mouth)
  • you watch your baby eat at all times
  • you contact a pediatric registered dietitian to make sure you are proceeding safely


BLW is contraindicated for babies at risk of dysphagia, such as babies who have an anatomic disorder (cleft palate, tongue tie), a neurological disorder (developmental delay, hypotonia, oral hypotonia) or a genetic disorder. Follow-up by a health professional (doctor, pediatric registered dietitian) is necessary for babies at risk of anemia such as babies born prematurely, babies with low birth weight (less than 3000 g), worries related to growth, babies born to an anemic mother, baby for whom cow’s milk was introduced early and/or a vegan baby


Being Safe

Providing meat to your BLW infant does take a bit of additional care for it to be safe, including the following from

  • Avoid meat or fish that is :
    • Raw, like sushi or rare steak
    • Highly processed like bacon, hotdogs or processed deli meats
    • Fried, using breading and unhealthy oils
  • Offer meat or fish that has been:
    • Cooked at these minimum temps:
      • Beef/veal/lamb: 77°C (170°F)
      • Pork:  71˚ C (160˚F)
      • Ground beef/veal/lamb/pork: 71˚C (160˚F)
      • Poultry (pieces): 74˚C (165˚F)
      • Poultry (whole): 82˚C (180˚F)
      • Ground poultry: 74˚C (165˚F)
      • Fish: 70˚C (158˚F)
      • Shellfish: 74˚C (165˚F)
      • Meat/Fish Leftovers: 74˚C (165˚F); reheat only once
    • Checked with a digital thermometer for temperature at the thickest part of the meat (ensure the metal tip is not hitting the bone)
    • Properly stored in a ≤4˚C (39˚F) fridge or ≤-18˚C (0˚F) freezer (refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours)
    • Made into the right size and shape:
      • Pieces of meat about as long as an adult pinkie finger (~2-3 inches long) and that are log shaped work best
    • Made safe by removing pointy bones and skin
    • Cooked without salt or sugar


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