When your baby is used to eating fruits and vegetables, it’s the right time to start thinking about adding some proteins into his/her diet. If you think about it, breastmilk and/or formula was his/her main source of protein for the first year of his/her life. Around 7 months, you can start to add other protein sources.
Proteins are a vital part of your baby’s diet, since they’ll help your baby develop and grow properly. By introducing protein into your baby’s diet will help him experience some new textures and flavour which is an exciting stage and very important!
- When cooking the protein, it is a good idea to add a little bit of herbs or spice, but in moderation. You need to make it interesting, but not overly spiced. Don’t add salt as your baby’s immature kidneys are not be able to process excess salt.
- You can add a few veggies to the mix or simply make a protein puree.
- If your baby’s familiar with finger-food, you can simply serve her the small chunks of protein and let her self-feed.
- If your baby isn’t quite ready for finger-food, put the chunks into a food processor with a little water, and mix to desired consistency. For older babies, the meat can be ground; for younger babies, add slightly more water and puree to a thinner consistency.
Of course, animal products like the ones listed above aren’t the only sources of protein. There are plenty of vegetable products that are packed with protein, too. Beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and soy products are all great sources of protein.
Meat/Poultry (poultry at 8 months; meat at 9-10 months)
When cooking meats for your baby, be sure that they are well-cooked. Never feed your baby rare or undercooked meats.
- 3/4 cup cooked meat (chicken, turkey, beef, or pork, cut into small chunks)
- 1/4 cup water (if you’ll be pureeing the meat)
Egg (8 months)
Eggs are a highly allergenic food, and experts used to recommend waiting to introduce them into a baby’s diet until 12 months. The egg whites are the allergenic part of the egg. Now, however, health experts suggest introducing them earlier, since there’s no link between delaying eggs and preventing egg allergies. If your family has a history of egg allergies, however, ask your doctor if you should wait and start eggs later.
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups water (if boiling egg)
For hard-boiled eggs:
- Boil the egg until firm (16 minutes for large egg; 19 minutes for extra-large egg). Allow to cool completely.
- Carefully peel the shell from the egg. Mash, dice, or slice egg, depending on the age of your baby.
For scrambled eggs:
- Crack egg into a bowl and beat.
- Grease a small sautee pan and heat over medium heat.
- Add egg to hot pan; scramble until egg is set.
- Allow to cool before serving to your baby
Fish (11-12 months)
You can bake, broil, or grill the fillet, until fish is done and flakes easily.
If your baby’s familiar with finger-food, you can simply flake the fish and serve it to him that way. For younger babies, grind the fish in a food processor. You can leave it ground or add in a bit of water and puree it for a thinner consistency.
- 1 fillet of boneless whitefish (like cod, haddock, pollock, or hake)
- 1/4 cup water (if you’ll be pureeing the fish)
Lentils (7-8 months)
Brown lentils are typically the easiest to find in the grocery store. However, red and green are also good choices. Red in particular are great for babies — they’re naturally sweet, and they cook fast.
Sort lentils, removing any discoloured/damaged ones. Then, rinse lentils.Bring water or stock to a boil. Add lentils.
Cook until tender (15 minutes for red lentils, 20 minutes for green lentils, or 30 minutes for brown lentils).
- 1/4 cup lentils (red, green, or brown)
- 3/4 cup water or low-sodium stock (vegetable, beef, or chicken)
Beans (7-8 months)
If you plan to use dried beans, allow plenty of prep and cooking time. Dried beans must be soaked overnight and then boiled for at least an hour before they’re soft enough for baby to eat.
If using dried beans, cook according to package directions. Be sure to sort and rinse dried beans carefully. If using canned beans, drain and rinse.
- 1/2 cup soft (cooked beans (use dried or canned — see below for details))
Hummus (7-8 months)
If you’re using dried beans, be sure to allow plenty of prep and cooking time. Dried beans must be soaked overnight and cooked for at least an hour before they’re soft enough for baby.
Drain the beans and rinse (if using canned). If using dried, follow package directions to prepare and cook beans. Be sure to sort and rinse dried beans carefully.
Puree all ingredients in a food processor.
You can serve hummus to younger babies as is, and for older babies, spread it on crackers or bread.
- 1 – 1 1/2 cups chickpeas or garbanzo beans
- 2 tbsp. tahini paste*
- 2-3 T lemon juice*
- 2 cloves garlic*
- 2-3 T olive oil
- *For younger babies (simply leave these ingredients out and puree chickpeas with oil.)
Tofu (9-10 months)
Tofu is made from soy, and soy can be a common allergen. If soy allergies run in your family, ask your doctor about waiting to introduce soy to your baby.
- 1 package of tofu (silken, soft, firm, or extra-firm, depending on which recipe you use)
For self-feeding babies:
- Cut tofu (firm or extra-firm) into small cubes and offer them to your baby.
For mashed tofu mixtures:
- Mash tofu (soft) into desired consistency.
- Stir in fruit or vegetable purees.
For tofu smoothies:
- Blend silken tofu with fruit juices and purees to create a delicious, protein-packed drink for your baby.