When can I start feeding my baby pork?
PARENTS often face the process of introducing complementary (solid) foods to their infants with some trepidation, worrying that their children may not be able to process firm foods like meat and vegetables. The good news is, according to child heath experts, introducing solids to your child at the age of five to six months is healthy and advised, as the needs of their rapidly developing and growing bodies begin to exceed those nutrients provided by mother's milk.
As of February 2014, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that few children receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods; in many countries only a third of breastfed infants six to 23 months of age meet the criteria of dietary diversity that are appropriate for their age.
One meat that may surprise you as healthy and nutritious for your growing child is pork, which is a good source of vitamins and minerals. Suggested cuts include tenderloin, shoulder and pork chops.
Pork as a complementary food for infants
Registered dietician and nutritionist at Caribbean Tots to Teens Kerry Weatherly confirmed that lean cuts of pork are an excellent source of Vitamin B complex and phosphorous. The family of the Vitamin B complex assist in baby's growth and development. They include:
o Thiamine which is important for energy production
o Niacin and riboflavin which both play key roles in cell growth and energy production
o B6, which helps in haemoglobin and in the production of antibodies
o Phosphorus, which is a major component in bones and teeth .
Dr Jason Mungalsingh, paediatrician at Kidz Klinik, stated that pork is indeed safe to feed baby from as early as six months of age and cautions that parents should ensure that all meats are cooked thoroughly to prevent any adverse symptoms that occur after ingesting undercooked meats.
An ideal complementary meal should include starch, protein (found in animal meats, beans and peas or eggs), vegetables and a little oil. Babies should eat three meals per day and fruit can be offered between meals as snacks.
Cooking for baby
When complementary foods are first introduced they should be fine, smooth, and of a liquid consistency. At eight months to a year, cooked lean cuts of pork can be minced, chopped or cubed and served as finger foods. Dr Mungalsingh recommends that parents should introduce foods slowly, spacing introductions to new foods by one week.
Weatherly offers two tasty recipes to get you started in cooking baby's first complementary meals:
Easy pork and sweet potato puree
1 medium sweet potato
1 Copperwood pork chop
1. Wash and cut sweet potato in chunks.
2. Put all ingredients in a medium pot and cook until sweet potato is soft and the meat is fully cooked.
3. Puree to desired consistency adding more water or breast milk if desired.
Tasty pork stew
1/4 cup Caribbean Passion chub ham (cubed)
1/4 tsp thyme
1 small onion (chopped)
1/2 cup water
2 carrots (sliced)
1/2 of a sweet pepper (chopped)
1/4 cup tomato sauce
4 ripe tomatoes (peeled and chopped)
1 tsp vegetable oil
1. Trim the pork and cut into cubes.
2. Sautee the pork for a few minutes, stirring often, until browned.
3. Add the onion, tomatoes, thyme and water and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat and simmer until pork is tender.
5. Add the remaining ingredients, cover and simmer for a further 15 to 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
6. Mash or puree as necessary.
Food safety which includes proper hand washing, clean work surfaces and utensils are always important in the preparation and cooking of complementary foods.