Baby’s first proteins

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Baby's first proteins

Every parent wants the best for their baby. You want them to be healthy and happy. That includes wanting to feed them nutritious foods. But it’s sometimes tough to know what foods are best for them.

One baby question we can help you answer is, “When can I start serving them beef and pork?”

You may be surprised to learn babies can eat beef and pork as soon as they start eating solid foods, usually around 6 months old1.

And you can always feel-good feeding your baby Never Ever pork and Angus beef.

What exactly does that mean? Never Ever is defined as:

  • No antibiotics — ever
  • No added hormones or growth promotants
  • 100% vegetarian diet; no animal byproducts, except for milk
baby with its hand in its mouth while sitting at a table

Protein cuisine

So now that you know it’s okay for your baby to eat beef and pork, here are a few helpful tips for feeding them fresh meats.

Until their chompers come in, only serve small portions of ground meat, or puree it. As they get older, they can graduate to slightly larger bites or thinly sliced pieces. Steer clear of tough or chewy cuts of meat like flank steak, as they are too hard for them to eat.

Pureeing meat is easy peasy. Just drop a chunk of meat into a blender or food processor, add a little water or broth and blend until smooth. Ready to serve!

When it comes to seasoning their meat, babies don’t need salt and pepper (or anything else). They will enjoy the taste and flavors without anything added.

Many grown-ups like their meat prepared “rare” or “medium-rare,” but babies should only eat fully cooked meat. Their tummies aren’t ready yet to handle eating rare meat.

Be patient. If your baby doesn’t become a carnivore right away, don’t rush it. It can often take multiple tries for them to like new foods.

Offer up a variety of food to diversify textures and tastes to reduce picky eating.

Mixed race family smiling in a group photo

Building blocks of good health

Serving your baby beef and pork provides vitamins and minerals important for their development. Beef and pork offer protein, iron, zinc, choline, selenium and vitamins B6 and B12. These are all critical for healthy growth in babies.

Why is eating protein so important? Protein is an essential macronutrient. It helps repair tissue and maintain proper balance and pH of body fluids. Some proteins are enzymes that we need for important functions in the body like blood clotting, digestion and energy production.

baby eating food in a high chair

Iron and zinc

Iron, especially heme iron, is a key element for healthy living that is commonly found in beef and pork. Our bodies can more easily absorb heme iron than non-heme iron (found in beans, lentils and green leafy vegetables).

Why is iron good for us? Iron helps manufacture red blood cells and delivers oxygen throughout your body. Babies are born with iron, but by the time they’re 6 months old, they start to deplete their supply. That’s why feeding them beef and pork is so important.

And what about zinc? Zinc plays a vital role in supporting your baby’s immune system and overall development. It helps heal wounds and enhance their sense of smell and taste. Beef and pork are both sources of zinc. Because our bodies don’t store zinc, it’s good to eat plenty of foods that have it.

Zinc is especially crucial for babies who are exclusively breast-fed. After six months, the amount of zinc in breast milk goes down. So, they need to make up for that loss of zinc through what they eat.

Kids between 7 to 24 months need about 3 milligrams of zinc daily.2

Not only can babies eat beef and pork before their first birthday but also, the nutrients they get from meat are critical for early development.

Start your little one on the road to healthy eating today.


This article is part of a three – part series on nutrition and wellness.

Want to learn more on this topic? Check out our articles on communal meals and balanced eating.

Baby’s first proteins

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