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Canadian Guidelines Recommend Meats as Baby’s First Solid Food

Mom&Me

In a major departure from conventional advice, new Canadian guidelines say parents should be offering their six-month-old infants iron-rich foods like pork, beef, fish, poultry, tofu, beans and eggs two or more times a day on a daily basis.

The recommendations are ground breaking. Previously, it was advised that babies start out eating infant cereals, followed by fruits and vegetables, then meats as they transition to solid foods. But when you look at the science, there is no reason to do that.

Experts from Health Canada, Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada, Breastfeeding Committee for Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada state the rationale for this change in infant feeding practices is two-fold:

  • Iron is critical for a baby’s growth and cognitive, neurological, motor and behaviour development.
  • By about six months, a baby’s iron stores start to diminish and those solely fed breast milk will not meet their iron requirements and are in danger of becoming anemic or iron-deficient. Iron deficiency during infancy and childhood may affect proper brain development, which is irreversible.

A recent national survey* revealed 70 per cent of Canadian mothers are unaware that babies seven to 12 months need 11 mg of iron per day – that’s nearly 40 per cent more than is required of a full-grown man!

Nature has provided delicious, iron-rich pork perfectly compatible with the way humans absorb iron – very efficiently. Adding meat to a meal also helps our bodies absorb up to four times the amount of iron from other foods like green vegetables, bread and cereals. Given the small size of baby’s stomach, serving meat at each meal make good nutritional sense.

Meats are an anchor in a healthy meal for the family. Now six-month-old infants can (and should) enjoy meats as the foundation of their meals too. 

For more information, see Baby at the Table and Toddler Approved.