When Can Babies Eat Chicken?

Finger-Licking Good

Well-cooked chicken, turkey and other meats provide protein, iron and fat, making them great first foods for baby.

Steak, chicken and turkey are foods that many parents love and look forward to introducing to their babies. Although doctors used to recommend that parents wait to introduce meats until babies were 8 to 12 months old, these recommendations are slowly changing. The current guidelines are to introduce pureed or well-cooked meats as one of baby's first foods at around 6 to 8 months old. Steak and fried chicken will unfortunately have to wait until your baby is a little bit older.

Nutritional Benefits

Chicken and other meats are great sources of protein, iron and fat. The iron content is especially important for breastfeeding babies who may be nursing less and eating more cereal as they leave infancy. In the debate between white and dark meat, the jury is still out. White meat is leaner than dark meat, but dark meat has a higher iron content. Because large amounts of protein can be difficult for young babies to process, the recommendation is to offer small amounts of meat along with vegetables or another food.

Eating Meats

Naturally, you aren't going to give your small baby a chicken wing or a whole steak to chew on. However, you can safely introduce your little one to chicken and other meats at an early age. If you want to spoon-feed your baby the chicken, cook it in a small amount of water or stock with some soft vegetables. Mash with a fork, and then blend the mixture into a puree and add more water if you need to thin down the texture a little. If you want your little one to try eating chicken on his own, give him pea-sized bits of well-cooked poultry. Meat that has been removed from a soup or stew is perfect since it will have been cooked until it is soft.

Cook With Care

Fortunately, meats are an uncommon allergy, but you should still introduce chicken or other meats separately from any other new foods. This gives you a chance to monitor your baby for any reactions to an unfamiliar food. Use good food-handling practices when you work with uncooked meat or poultry by keeping utensils, cutting boards and plates separate from those used for other foods. Use a food thermometer or check for the juices to run clear to be sure you are cooking meats until they are fully done. Your baby can learn to enjoy a rare steak when he is a little older.

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