All set to start adding non vegetarian foods for babies or to your kid’s diet, but don’t have a clue about what to start with?
Worried about the spice levels of non-veg recipes for babies and kids?
Wondering how to make your baby or kid fall in love with non-veg recipes?
So many questions – but all genuine ones!
Well mommies you aren’t alone, I too have gone through this phase, where I didn’t have a clue as to introducing non- veg dishes to my little one’s diet.
Through this post I will try to help simplify things for moms who have questions about a non- veg diet for kids. I have tried to cover everything about non vegetarian foods for babies and kids.
Non veg for babies – Is it good?
The answer is – Yes!
You may hear people tell you that having non vegetarian dishes can cause diseases but if you and your family eat the amount required for your body, non- vegetarian food can be good for you.
I do not want to start a debate on whether a vegetarian diet is good or if a non-vegetarian diet reigns supreme. Both are good, as long as you use good quality ingredients and ensure that you are eating a balanced diet.
Benefits of non vegetarian foods for babies:
Non vegetarian dishes contain proteins, fat, vitamins and minerals that help in the healthy growth and functioning of the body.
Let us a look at the benefits of consuming non veg food items.
- It is a rich source of protein and as you know it is required for the growth and proper development of the muscles
- It contains Haem Iron which is absorbed more easily by the human body as compared to Non-haem Iron that is present in green leafy vegetables, legumes etc. Iron helps in keeping the hemoglobin counts optimal and ensures that your little one doesn’t run out of stamina.
- It contains fats and yes your little one needs fat for healthy functioning.
- It contains minerals like calcium and phosphorous and they are essential for the development of the skeletal system and thus helps in ensuring your kiddo has strong teeth and bones.
- Non vegetarian food items contain Vitamin B complex and other vitamins which the body needs for maintaining the healthy functioning of the central nervous system. It is essential for the proper development of the nerves and brain. It is also required for converting carbs into glucose. It helps to maintain a healthy digestive system. Vitamin B complex is essential for healthy skin and hair and aids in cell reproduction and repair.
- It contains Zinc that is essential for a good and strong immune system.
5 Tips to introduce non vegetarian dishes to your little ones:
- Always start with home cooked food as it is easier to monitor allergic reactions. Kids with severe allergies can have an attack even if the food they eat has come in contact with an allergen.
- Start with purees/ soups first.
- Start by giving small portions and gradually increasing the quantity.
- If your kiddo rejects the food initially, wait and try it after some days.
- Non-veg food can make your baby feel full for longer so ensure that you don’t overfeed your baby as he or she can reject other food items.
- Ensure that you choose only fresh ingredients.
- Avoid feeding raw or under cooked food to your baby.
- Overcooked meat can also pose a problem as it becomes tough and difficult to eat.
- Avoid giving outside to your little one. Apart from not knowing the conditions they were cooked, it also stands a chance of being high in spices and oil. Remember the healthiest and cheapest baby food is what you make at home.
- Stay clear of processed meats like salami, sausages and ham. They contain preservatives and other harmful chemicals.
- Some kids develop allergies to certain food items so always follow the 7 day rule while introducing non veg food to baby’s diet.
Frequently asked questions on non vegetarian foods for babies and kids:
Given below is a compilation of 30 questions that I have come across regarding this topic.
#1. Is non vegetarian foods healthy for babies and kids?
Definitely. As mentioned above, non-vegetarian foods are rich in nutrients that are required by the body’s healthy functioning and growth.
Non vegetarian food items are often linked to obesity and certain illness, but the truth is, like any food item, eating non- vegetarian food items can actually be beneficial if consumed in the right quantity.
#2. When can I start non veg foods for my baby?
The body of a baby is still developing and isn’t capable of consuming all the food items that we adults eat. So experts recommend that you start with non-vegetarian foods by the 8 month.
Your baby can technically digest non vegetarian food by 6 months but his kidneys aren’t equipped to handle all that protein. Thus the wait till 8 months. You can ask our child’s pediatrician whether your little one is ready to start with non-vegetarian dishes.
#3. What is the process of introducing non-veg foods to kids?
Introducing new foods to baby can be tricky. In the case of non-veg, start with eggs, fish and then poultry. The order of the food items are to be followed this way as the baby won’t be able to digest all items of the non-veg family with the same ease.
#4. I have heard that eggs are good for kids. So how much should I start with?
Eggs are great first non-veg foods for your baby and you can start giving it to your baby once he/she is 8 months old. Start with the yolk of a hard-boiled egg and give small quantities first. Avoid giving the egg white till the first year as it can trigger allergies in some kids.
#5. My baby doesn’t eat egg yolks. How can I make him eat?
Initially some kids might show an aversion to any new food. If he isn’t eating it, take a break and try feeding after a break. Add some pepper/ jeera powder/ cheese to spice things up a bit. You can mix it with his favourite food items like his veggies so as to mask the taste.
You can also mix it with rice, make a fried rice or make a whole egg omelette If you still have no luck, do not force feed your kid as he may end up hating it more. You can also read about the benefits of quail eggs over chicken eggs.
#6. My son hates eggs. What to do?
When it comes to kids, being innovative is the key! Try different recipes or mix it with his favourite dishes so that he has it.
You can refer to the 8 egg recipes for babies and kids.
#7. Can you give me the ways by which eggs can be given to babies?
Apart from being really healthy and easy on your li’l one’s tummy, egg is also really versatile. You can boil it, scramble it, make fried rice, add it to stir fries, noodles, make a curry or a roast, make pudding or even make a French toast.
#8. Can I give eggs to my girl child every day?
Yes! You can. But there are times too much of a good thing turns bad. The yolk of an egg is high in cholesterol, so adults are advised to limit it to 3-4 yolks per week. If your kid is having a diet that is already fat rich, avoid eggs every day.
If your kiddo is underweight, you can give eggs every day so that his/her weight picks up. You should also avoid giving eggs every day during summers for babies to avoid heat build up in the body.
#9. How can I introduce fish to my baby?
After eggs, the next non veg item that can be given to kids is fish. To start with, you can give a fish puree made with fishes that have white flesh. Ensure that you give fishes that are low in mercury content.
You can also read more about introducing fish to your baby- why, when and how.
#10. Which is the ideal first fish?
You can start with fishes with white flesh. A few examples of such fishes are – sardines, rohu, pomfret, salmon etc. Avoid fishes like tuna, shark, king mackerel as they have high mercury content.
#11. How about introducing sea foods to baby?
Doctors recommend giving your kids fishes that have low mercury content when they are 8 months old. But remember fish doesn’t include shellfishes.
Shellfishes can cause allergies so it is recommended that you don’t start giving shellfishes like mussels, prawn, crabs and lobsters till he/she becomes a year old. But children with allergies or a family history of allergies should wait till 3 years to start having shellfish.
#12. My son is allergic to fish so should he avoid shellfish?
No, he doesn’t have to unless he is allergic to shellfish too. Even though fishes and shellfish fall under the sea food, a person who is allergic to fishes can consume shellfishes.
If your kid is allergic to fish, try a small quantity of shellfish and watch out for allergic reactions. If there are none, he can consume shellfish.
#13. How can one recognize signs of a shell fish allergy?
Look out for rashes, swelling, itching, nausea, vomiting and or diarrhea. In extreme cases there might be difficulty in breathing and the child may even lose consciousness. Whatever the case, seek immediate medical intervention.
#14. My son is 10 years old and has started developing rashes while having shellfish lately. But his grand mom insists that I feed him shellfish and claims that exposure to the allergen will make him stronger. Is it true?
Your son seems to have developed an allergy to shellfish. Sorry to say so, but even the symptoms of the allergy are mild, shellfish allergy has the tendency to turn very serious. You are exposing your child to the risk of an anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal if not given medical attention on time.
My advice – Keep him far away from shellfish.
#15. How can I introduce chicken to my baby?
Like egg or fish, chicken can also be given to a child who is 8 months+. You can start by giving your little one chicken soup or a chicken puree. Chicken soup is said to be beneficial for kiddos suffering from cold.
#16. Can you give me the recipe of a simple chicken soup for babies?
Chicken soup is extremely good for children as it helps to boost their immunity. Try out this yummy chicken soup recipe that you can give your little one. It is easy to make and abounds in nutritive value too.
#17. Can pureed chicken be given to my baby?
Yes! In fact, you should start with a soup or puree.
Introducing pureed foods to baby is better as it is easier for the little ones to digest. But keep in mind, while introducing new foods to children, do not mix it with other food items. This is done to understand whether the child is allergic to the newly introduced food item. Once that is done you can mix it with other items.
Here is a yummy chicken, apple and sweet potato mash recipe for kiddos.
#18. My daughter is fond of chicken nuggets from the fast food centres, but not when made at home. Can you help?
Just because the kids love the dishes you get at the fast food centres, they are not always healthy. You can always make dishes available at fast food outlets at home. You can try out the homemade KFC style fried chicken recipe for kids.
#19. Can I give my baby red meat?
Yes you can, but ensure that you give him/her lean red meat and wait till 9 months to start. When you start giving your kid red meats, ensure it is pureed and watered down into a really watery consistency.
Lamb and beef are in fact said to be good sources of iron and zinc.
#20. Can I feed my child beef?
Like all other food items, consuming beef too is a matter of choice and your family’s food habits.
When you give beef ensure that it is finely ground so as to ensure easy digestion and better absorption of iron. But be advised that since it is a high protein feed your baby small portions so that you don’t burden his/her kidneys.
#21. What is the healthiest way to give non veg foods every day to my child?
Kids give importance to taste over health. So if your child likes fried chicken, avoid giving him fried chicken every day and make various dishes to tickle his taste buds.
- Egg – omelettes, scrambled, boiled, curry and roast.
- Fish – purees, steamed, baked and fry
- Chicken – soup, puree, pies, curry, roast and fry.
#22. Can I give green leafy vegetables along with non-veg foods? If yes how?
Yes you can. You can give a healthy twist to your chicken curry by adding some fenugreek leaves for a yummy methi chicken. Similarly you can make palak chicken or coriander chicken – which will be less spicy and delicious. You can also toss in some chicken to some stir fries for a tasty twist.
Yet another way is to add greens and eggs, meat, chicken or fish to pulaos or biriyanis.
#23. I am always concerned about the spice levels of non-veg dishes for babies and kids.
You can always modify the spice levels of the dishes you make for kids. When you start feeding them avoid adding any spices. Later on you can start with moderate spice levels. Start with pepper and graduate to green chillies.
BUY our eBook 29 Non Veg recipes for toddlers and kids for some great kid friendly recipes.
#24. Can my baby be allergic to non-veg foods?
Your baby can be allergic to non-veg foods if
- If you have a history of food allergies in your family.
- If your baby has any allergies or has any wheezing.
- In such cases be careful while feeding non-veg and keep an eye out for any abnormal symptoms like rashes.
#25. What are the symptoms of allergies to non-veg foods in babies?
The allergies to non-veg can range from mild to severe. But fortunately the symptoms are easy to spot.
Look for symptoms starting from rashes, swelling, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, wheezing to losing of consciousness. Do read the post on signs and symptoms of food allergy in babies for detailed information.
#26. Can I give my one year old sausages?
Kids love sausages because it is tasty and parents like it as it is easy to cook. But I wouldn’t recommend sausages as it is a processed food item that contains preservatives, sodium and nitrates. Apart from that it also poses a choking threat for babies.
#27. Being vegetarians, we are clueless about the best non-veg item to start for our kids. Please help!
You can start with eggs. There are a lot of easy recipes that contain eggs. Then if you are comfortable you can slowly shift to fish and chicken.
#28. I feel cooking non veg dishes are time consuming so I prefer ordering from a local eating joint. Can my kid eat that too?
Firstly, it’s a myth that non veg dishes take time to cook. There are many easy to cook non veg dishes too. Avoid giving your kid food from outside as they can be prepared in unsanitary conditions and the spice levels might also be high.
#29. How often can I give my kid non veg?
More than the frequency of non-veg, you should be concentrating on giving the child a properly balanced diet.
- Food chart for 7 month old baby
- Food chart for 9 month old baby
- Food chart for 11 month old baby
- Food chart for 2 year old baby
- Food chart for 1 year old baby
- Food chart for 10 month old baby
- Food chart for 8 month old baby
- Food chart for 6 month old baby
#30. My kid refuses to eat veggies and eats only non-veg, could that pose a problem?
Non veg food is nutritious but is not enough on its own. Try to sneak in veggies to his diet.
A non-veg only diet could also lead to constipation as it lacks fibre. Add some veg puree into his favorite non veg dish.
- Make an omelette even more nutritious by adding some spinach
- Try placing freshly cut carrot fingers while serving homemade chicken nuggets
Hope I have been able to address your queries on non vegetarian foods for babies and kids. If you have any more queries, share with me in the comments and I will be happy to answer them.
Also share your munchkin’s age and the non-veg dishes that they like.