This post was written in paid partnership with Manitoba Chicken Producers. As always, all opinions are our own.
If you’re a parent getting ready to transition your baby onto solid food, you might think about foods such as: banana, avocado, carrots, rice, or sweet potato. Surprisingly, while these foods are commonly thought of as “first foods”, they don’t contain a key nutrient that your baby needs: iron. If you concern yourself with any nutrient for your child, this is it!
At around 7 months, your baby’s iron needs increase significantly to 11mg, this is the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). Soooo, what does that mean? Let’s put that into perspective.
The RDA for a grown male over the age of 30 requires 8mg daily.
And your baby? She needs almost 30% more.
Why Iron is so Important for Babies
Iron is needed to transfer oxygen from the air we breathe to the cells in our body. Oxygen is needed for growth. Therefore, iron is needed for growth! A human’s growth rate is at its highest during a child’s first year of life.
Iron is also needed for:
- proper brain development
- preventing iron deficiency anemia
- optimizing immune and hormone function
As Registered Dietitians, we sometimes like to nerd out and recall our biochemistry days. There are two types of iron: heme iron and non-heme iron. While both are
lovely important and will help your baby meet her needs, we know that heme iron is more readily absorbed than non-heme iron.
The main takeaway here is that for every bite of food containing heme iron your baby eats, she may absorb up to 17.5x more iron!
… and that heme iron? It’s ONLY found in animal sources, such as dark chicken.
We’ve found, in our practice as pediatric dietitians, that parents are nodding along at this point going, “cool, cool, cool, meat for babies!”
Then a quizzical look appears on their face and they ask…
“but how is a baby going to eat meat???”
Do you relate?
Do you feel reluctant, confused, and unsure of how to best offer your baby meats such as chicken?
No matter if your baby is just starting solids… or a few months in…
No matter if you’re spoon feeding… or using the baby led weaning style…
…We’ve got you covered with a variety of ways to feed your baby chicken!
5 Easy Ways to Serve Chicken to Your Baby
Serve Your Baby Pureed Chicken
This is a great option if you’re choosing the traditional route to feed your baby solid food. You can spoon feed the chicken puree or spread it on toast, a mum mum, or incorporate into other recipes such as marinara! You can offer chicken to your baby this way between 4 – 6 months.
Lucky for you we’ve broken down exactly how you can prepare puree chicken for your baby.
Step One: Boil the Meat
Boil water on medium high then gently add the meat to the pot. Cook until a thermometer inserted into the middle reaches at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step Two: Remove the Meat from the Skin and Bones
Drain in a colander. Once the meat is cool enough to touch, remove the skin and bones.
Step Three: Process with Liquid
Add the meat and a small amount of liquid (breastmilk, formula, or salt-free broth) to a food processor or blender. You can also add a bit of veggie puree or salt free seasoning to enhance the taste.
Step Four: Reach Desired Texture
Process until you reach the appropriate texture for your baby. You can make it smooth, minced, lumpy or chunky.
Serve Your Baby Shredded Meat
Offer your baby tender chicken that has been pulled. We love making our babies pulled chicken carnitas in a lovely sauce. All you need to do is be mindful of sodium and spice level. Place the chicken in front of your little eater and layer the pulled chicken in a little hay stack for your baby to explore.
Serve Your Baby a Chicken Drumstick
This is our favourite way to offer baby chicken. We love that a drumstick offers your baby an integrated handle and this is great to offer your baby at 6 – 8 months especially if you want to offer your baby handheld foods.
If you want to give this a try, be sure to remove the skin after cooking. And then, remove any visible cartilage, especially at the top of the drumstick. Lastly, as your baby makes her way close to the bone, you’ll want to watch out for the one pointy bone inside. Simply remove this or go ahead and offer her another serving!
Our e-book Whole Food Recipes for Your Baby features a delicious Tex-Mex Chicken Drumstick recipe!
Serve Your Baby Ground Chicken
Ground chicken is so convenient to offer your baby at 6 months. What’s great about this type of chicken is it can be molded into a variety of shapes and you can include a host of ingredients to add flavour and boost nutrition. For example, you can prepare mini burgers that include minced spinach or mini meatballs. Another favourite is preparing Mini Chicken Meatloaves meatloaf that you can cut into “French fry” shape for your baby. For more inspiration, visit Manitoba Chicken Producers for other recipes that you can adapt for the unique nutritional needs of your baby.
Serve Your Baby Chopped Chicken
Around 8 or 9 months, your baby may be indicating that he is ready to practice his pincer grasp! Some babies aren’t interested in this until a little later, and that’s okay. This is a fascinating milestone and it’s so wonderful to see a young baby try to master this fine motor skill. Now, you can serve your baby chopped chicken that is about the size of a small dice or blueberry. You could try to offer your baby cut up roast chicken with lemons.
We’re hoping that you now feel equipped to serve your baby chicken…. especially if it’s a food that is a part of your repertoire! The sooner you start offering baby the foods you regularly eat, the sooner they will learn to accept them.
We’d love to know: do you feel more confident about preparing chicken for your baby to eat?