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Report Suggests Enhanced Role of Meat in Infant Diets

07 May 2013
BordBia

CANADA - The typical diet of a six month old infant has recently been challenged. Health Canada recommend that this age group should be offered meat, fish, poultry or meat alternatives two or more times a day on a daily basis, writes Peter Duggan from the Strategic Information Services of Bord Bia-Irish Food Board.

Traditionally, parents were told that meat is the last food to introduce. Previously, it was recommended that babies start out eating infant cereals, followed by fruits and vegetables, as they transition to solid foods. However, according to Health Canada, the change in feeding practises is now two-fold.

Iron is critical for a baby’s growth and cognitive, neurological, motor and behaviour developmentA baby’s iron stores start to fall after six months.

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.

Other iron rich foods appropriate for these toddlers include eggs, tofu, legumes and iron-fortified infant cereals. If a toddler does not have sufficient iron within their diet, this may affect proper brain development, which is irreversible.

The portion size of pureed meat recommended is about one or two tablespoons at each meal when a baby starts consuming this food initially. The amount of food offered after that should be guided by the infant’s hunger and satiety cues

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