It’s only fitting that the first post on this blog is a post about a first. And this is a biggie. Probably bigger for me than for Ranch Baby (RB).
RB is six months old now. At four months, the pediatrician gave the green light on experimenting with solids. By the second go at rice cereal, his face said “Mom, this is straight bor-ing. What else you got?” Since then, we’ve gone rounds with bananas, apple sauce, avocado, squash, sweet potato, and the list goes on. In any case, we’ve got an eater.
Beyond the obvious reasons I might delight in seeing my baby chow down on beef, one of those state public health department pamphlets they start sending you 2.5 seconds after you give birth suggested “Iron fortified infant cereal is a good first food for babies getting formula. Baby food meats are a good first food for breastfeeding babies.” I matched this up with what I know about beef nutrition and I feel like it is the kind of information more parents should have at their finger tips when planning their wee one’s first forays into food.
IRON AND ZINC
A University of Colorado Medical School study breaks it on down:
“Iron and zinc are important for the growth and development of infants and young children. Inadequate consumption of these nutrients can have long lasting negative effects on children’s learning, behavior and development. Breastfed infants 9 months of age and older get just 10 percent of the iron and zinc they need from breast milk, […]the modest intake of zinc from the typical early complementary foods before 7 months (cereals, fruits and vegetables) provides only 30% of the EAR. Introducing babies 5 months or older to pureed beef while they continued to breastfeed was an effective way to provide the iron and zinc they need.”
Why beef? Feeding a baby can be tricky. They can be picky, distracted, and inefficient eaters. They also take their meals a few Tablespoons at a time, so nutrient density is an important concept. Beef is a great resource in this department because ounce per ounce, it packs a mighty wallop in the zinc and iron department. Click on the study link above for a digestible *pun* version of the study findings.
BABY AND THE BEEF
Okay, okay I know you are just dying to find out how baby’s first taste of beef went. I served it in the form of a pureed Shepherd’s Pie with ground beef, onions, peas and carrots (a recipe similar to this Beefy Shepherd’s Pie). If a picture is worth a thousand baby babble syllables, this one helps explain what happened next.
Not the automatic acceptance and love for the beef I was hoping for in my parental heart of hearts. There was even a little gag reflex going on there! I concluded it was a texture thing. I’ve only been making baby food for a couple months now, so I suspect the combo of my novice skill level, RB’s novice eating skills (no teeth yet, FYI) and the completely new texture, love at first gumming was a little unrealistic.
But the nutrient bundle beef offers babies draws me to two realistic conclusions: it’s worth the patience and persistence, and a little goes a long way to getting my kid the nutrition he needs.
Fast forward about two weeks:
Mommy tries again. I whirled up our Bistro Beef Stew (sans vino, subbed green peppers for peas) in ze blender for ze baby. A greater measure of success was accomplished. When I mixed in a bit of the mashed potatoes (why would I deny RB the tasty smooth taters that the rest of us get?), his acceptance grew and he got a balanced baby meal of beef protein, vegetables, and carbohydrates. Beef stew, FTW!
I don’t claim to be an expert here, I’m just a greenhorn parent trying to do right by her babe. To the Moms and Dads out there – when and how did you put meat on your baby’s menu?
I have a sneaky suspicion that this is the first of many Ranch Baby firsts that become posts on this here blog. But they’ll get bigger and better – like Ranch Baby’s first encounter with a baby calf. Ranch Baby’s first hamburger. Ranch Baby’s first garden-hose-off before being allowed back in the house. Ranch Baby’s first time at the auction, a place where my brother and I spent so many hours at my Grandfather’s side “helping” him buy cattle. So much ranchy cuteness to look forward to with the RB!