As with beef, recommendations for the age at which chicken and turkey should be introduced into a baby’s diet vary: in the United States of America, most paediatricians recommend between 8 and 10 months of age; many UK, European, and Canadian authorities recommend meats as one of the ‘first’ foods at an earlier age – to help maintain baby’s proper iron levels, and ensure that levels of zinc and protein are adequate.
Goodness for your baby:
- chicken and turkey are high in protein
- chicken and turkey are high in iron (particularly in the dark meat)
- chicken and turkey are among the easiest of meats for baby to digest
- chicken and turkey are good ‘first’ meats
When you give chicken or turkey to your baby, the light meat of the breast is considered higher in protein and lower in fat. Darker meat in thighs and legs is higher in iron and higher in fat, and may be better to give to your baby, as the fat content of dark meat makes it easy to puree into a fairly smooth texture, and the higher iron makes it an excellent choice nutritionally.
Ideas for cooking and introducing chicken and turkey into your baby’s diet…
- Baking, roasting, poaching, or steaming are the best cooking methods for retaining the most nutrients in any foods, including chicken and turkey.
- Cooking or stewing in a crock pot is another good method.
- If your baby is not used to the flavour of chicken or turkey, and you are making a plain puree, the flavour of the cooking liquid may be too strong, so strain it and use some water to make the puree. (Don’t waste any of the cooking liquid though, as nutrients from the meat will have leached into it – use it for your older children’s meals or for your own).
- Mix in some fruit or vegetable puree for baby’s first taste of chicken or turkey.
- Preheat the oven to 190C (375F).
- Lightly grease a roasting tin with olive oil and season the meat lightly with any spices that your baby is used to having – DO NOT ADD SALT!
- Rub the chicken or turkey with a little olive oil and then season it –particularly if you are using skinless breasts.
- Put meatin the roasting tin, place in the oven, and bake until the juices run clear.
- Baking times will vary depending on the size of the chicken portions, but in general chicken or turkey need about 20 minutes per 500gm (pound).
- Chicken breasts may be ready after 25 minutes, legs or thighs may take less time.
- Use boneless chicken or turkey, and cut into dice.
- Place in a saucepan and add water or broth to cover the meat.
- Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to simmer.
- Simmer for approximately 15-20 minutes until the meat is white all through and juices are clear, not pink.
For chicken or turkey pieces:
- Braise or brown the pieces in a little olive oil prior to putting into the crockpot.
- Add pieces to the crockpot and cover with broth, water or a mixture of both (apple juice also nice).
- Set the crockpot to low and cook for 4-6 hours.
For whole chicken or turkey:
- Wash the chicken or turkey with cool water.
- Stuff the chicken or turkey with half a lemon or orange.
- Place in the crockpot.
- Set crockpot to low and cook for at least 8 hours.
- Check that the chicken or turkey is completely cooked by inserting a sharp knife in the thickest partof the bird, to see that juices are clear, and not pink.
This information presented to you acts as a guide which contains researched information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.
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