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A protein boost for baby

Bethany Baratta's 9-month-old son
Bethany Baratta's 9-month-old son, Luca

Now that our 9-month-old son is exploring different tastes and textures, my husband and I always cruise up and down the baby food aisle to find different combinations he might like. He likes sweet potatoes, frowns at pureed peas, loves peaches and puckers up after a bite of pureed prunes.

While there are plenty of options for fruits and vegetables, proteins are harder to come by. But that may be changing after a new study from the University of Colorado was released touting the benefits of meat in an infant’s diet.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, says meat-fed infants (complementary to formula or breastfeeding) could have an advantage when it comes to early length growth. More than that, the study showed, meat provides some pretty important nutrients to our baby’s diet.

“Meat, such as pork, provides important micronutrients, is an excellent source of protein and can be an important complementary food for infants who are ready for solid foods,” said lead study author Minghua Tang, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado. “Our research suggests introducing higher amounts of protein and introducing meat, such as pork, into the diet at five months could be potentially beneficial for linear growth (length gain).”

That’s good news for my husband, who has high hopes of our son growing tall (despite having parents who are both under 6 foot).

While meat sounds like a great option for my baby, I’ll be talking to his pediatrician to determine what’s best for him. How do I know if he’s ready for more protein? What about pieces of meat? Will it be pureed? How much? When?

And while I’d have to fight my husband for a piece of steak to puree for our little guy, I’m more than willing to introduce him to bacon and pork chops. I come from a family of pig farmers, so it’s my duty to introduce pork, after all.

By Bethany Baratta. Bethany is Iowa Farm Bureau's Commodities Writer.



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