November 29, 2010

A Vegetarian Baby

A friend asked me about vegetarian recipes for her baby. Now this could be controversial but I believe babies need red meat because red meat is the best source of Iron. And Iron in meat (haeme iron) is more easily absorbed than Iron (non-haeme iron) in vegetables.

Babies have immature gastrointestinal tracks, they are so very new and still developing and cannot therefore effectively digest and absorb everything they eat so it is important to fed them easily absorbed and digestible foods. And, as Iron in meat is more easily absorbed than veggie Iron this makes it a great source of Iron for babies.

Currently in Australia babies are encouraged to begin eating meat from 8 months, red meat is a terrific source of a complete protein and an easily digestible source of iron. The benefits of Iron include the production of haemoglobin, assists brain development and function, regulates body temperature and metabolism and lack of Iron directly affects the immune system. These are all important functions of a new and developing baby. If, (not only babies but) people don't eat and absorb enough iron they can acquire Iron deficiency anaemia, this can lead to a whole range of problems.

Iron benefits, deficiencies, food sources
Iron deficiency anaemia

Other sources of iron include wholegrains, nuts, eggs, legumes, seeds and of course iron fortified cereals - most baby foods including rusks have Iron added.

Also meat is a primary source of a complete-protein. Proteins primary function is to build and repair tissues and cells in the body and then amino acids which are the building blocks that make up proteins are key factors in aiding most of the functions and processes of the body - therefore proteins are very important in the growth and development of our babies. And I hear you ask that there is protein in seeds, nuts, grains, dairy but unless they are combined they are not complete proteins.

So a few easy red meat ideas for new babies are lamb cutlets and mince meat.  Mince meat is great because it's an easy protein source and can easily be made into lots of things; a shepards pie, rissoles, bolognese sauces and I make what I call a Moroccan style bolognese - with beans and potatoes in it (but no real spices). Of course you can source the best quality organic meats for you and your bubba. I know people choose to eat or not eat meat for all sorts of reasons,  ethical, cultural, religious, financial but my suggestion is in the first few years it is a good idea to feed your babies meat and they can later make their own decisions. If you choose to feed your baby as a vegetarian it is important to serve Vitamin C with every meal to prevent anaemia.

From 8 months I fed my baby lamb chop cutlets - he loved it, but that's not to say all will!

1 comment:

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