If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my first few years as a mom, it’s that babies don’t keep. My kids are now ages one and three, and the toddler stage sure keeps us busy and always on the go.
Even though my kids are growing up much faster than I would like, it wasn’t too long ago that we were in the throes of the short and sweet baby months. One of my fondest memories from that chapter was the excitement of introducing first foods to my kids after they were six months old.
We opted to skip the pre-made baby food and went straight to the good stuff — beef. As a result, our kids quickly learned to love beef, and it was a good feeling knowing that their first food was both nutrient-rich and delicious.
Recently, Joclyn Evans, a dietician for Hyvee, wrote an article in the Des Moines Register about the benefits of beef as a complementary first food for babies.
Evans writes, “As one of the first foods introduced to infants (starting at six months), beef provides the nutrients babies need to set the stage for successful development and lifelong health. Make sure to incorporate beef into your meals to help your family members make the most of their days and meals.”
She lists four reasons why beef is an excellent first food for babies, including:
1. Vital bundle of nutrients
Evans says, “Beef has a unique mix of nutrients, including high-quality protein, iron, zinc, choline, selenium and vitamins B6 and B12, essential for growth and development in infants and children. Additionally, children need iron and zinc for their development, learning, behavior and growth. Beef is a natural source of more than 10 essential nutrients including protein, zinc and iron, which can help prevent harmful nutrient deficiencies.”
2. Strong minds and bodies
“Eating beef as a complementary first food supports healthy growth in infants without excess weight gain,” says Evans. “It also supports brain health and development in little ones, with nutrients including iron and zinc, which our bodies absorb more easily from beef than from plants.”
3. Healthy immune system
“Parents worried about their children getting sick should know that foods rich in iron and zinc, including beef, support the growth of healthful bacteria in an infant’s gut, which enhances immune function,” says Evans.
4. Creating a healthy palate
“Introducing a variety of flavors and textures, including meats like beef, encourages infants to accept the taste of healthy foods as they grow older,” she says.
I see so many moms on Facebook lamenting that their children are picky, and it’s a struggle to get them to consume enough protein each day. This is a great opportunity for the industry to promote beef as a healthy first food choice, which would benefit kids in developing their taste for meat early on and ultimately create beef-loving customers for life.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.