This is a guest post by Registered Dietitian Karine.
Just recently, new guidelines were released for the introduction of solid foods to infants at 6 months of age. If you are a new parent, here’s what you need to know!
The statement, developed based upon the latest science on the best nutrition for infants, was issued jointly by Health Canada, the Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada, and the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada. It emphasizes the importance of introducing iron-rich foods as baby’s first solids. Iron is critical for healthy brain development, and deficiencies in early childhood may have serious and irreversible effects. As such, ensuring adequate iron intake during infancy is essential to support proper growth and brain development.
To maintain adequate iron intake, the new guidelines recommend introducing iron-rich foods to infants as their first foods at about 6 months of age. This differs from the current common practice of introducing infant cereal, vegetables and fruit first.
The statement goes on further to recommend iron-rich foods be served at least two or more times each day; and meat, such as beef, poultry, fish or meat alternatives daily. Frequent consumption of meat, poultry and fish, can contribute considerably to meeting infant iron requirements because the heme iron they provide is more readily absorbed than non-heme iron found in plant based foods such as infant cereals.
Beef and other iron-rich meats are simple to puree at home by cooking meat until tender and mixing with half a cup of water per cup of cubed meat in a blender or food processor. A portion size of one to two tablespoons can be offered at first. Extra puree can be frozen in an ice cube tray for later use.
So what’s the bottom line?
- At about 6 months of age, iron-rich foods should be added to baby’s diet as his first solid food.
- Feed iron-rich foods two or more times each day. Meat, such as beef, poultry, fish or meat alternatives should be served daily.
- Breastfeeding is the preferred and recommended method of feeding babies; breastfeeding should continue to provide the main source of nutrition as solids are introduced.
- Check with a health professional about how the guidelines relate to the specific needs of your own baby.
- For tips on how to ensure you are food safe in your home, see what Marissa the Meat Maven has to say in these handy Food TLC videos.
Karine is a Registered Dietitian with Canada Beef Inc, passionate foodie and world traveler. Beef, of course, is a favourite food in her home – providing nourishing and nurturing meals for her hubby, growing 7 year old and the friends and other family they often entertain. There are not many conversations, either at work or at home, that don’t weave their way back somehow to food, recipes, nutrition, or beef. “Is “beef” all you talk about at work?”, Karine’s son recently asked. Karine proudly responded “yes”…