Complementary Feeding: Introducing Meat, Fats, Spices, Salt & Sugar

We get quite a lot of questions from dad and mom who’re knee-deep in beginning solids about when and methods to introduce sure meals or components to their infants. (When you’re gearing up for this stage, take a look at our complete information to beginning to solids for some background on diving in, together with timing, readiness indicators, first meals, feeding suggestions, schedules and extra.) 

In particular, dad and mom lately have been inquiring about whether or not, when and methods to incorporate meat (& fish), fats, spices, and sugar into their infants’ diets. 

Right here’s the rundown: 

  • Meat (& Fish)
  • Opposite to what it’s possible you’ll suppose, meat and fish may be launched to infants as early as 6 months — they provide quite a few micronutrients, together with iron and zinc, and in addition comprise arachidonic acid, which is essential for mind growth (it’s a form of polyunsaturated fatty acid, and sure, it sounds prefer it got here straight out of Harry Potter). In fact, fatty fish (e.g. salmon) are additionally wealthy in omega 3, and meat and fish are usually protein dense. 

    The iron content material in meat/fish is price dwelling on briefly, as a result of the form of iron present in these animal meals — heme iron — is extra bioavailable than the non-heme iron present in plant meals (that means, it’s simpler for the physique to entry). Why is that this essential? Iron concentrations in breast milk lower with the length of lactation (no matter maternal weight-reduction plan and iron standing), and usually start to fall off at about 6 months. Globally, iron deficiency (which by the way usually coincides with zinc deficiency) is among the commonest micronutrient deficiencies amongst infants and younger youngsters. And although there are many complementary meals that provide iron, within the US, meat and iron-fortified cereals are usually the 2 most widespread choices. (Tip: serving vitamin C in tandem with non-heme iron-rich meals boosts iron bioavailability.)

    Verdict: Pureed meats and fish may be launched as first complementary meals and supply each iron and zinc, amongst different dietary advantages. 

    How-to: Consultants suggest boiling, pureeing, and serving “plain” 1 oz. servings (no salt, sweeteners, flavors, preservatives) to begin off, together with a grain or veggie — it pairs effectively with a vegetable- or potato-based dish from Amara! You may learn extra about feeding meat to your child right here. (Tip: use ice dice trays to freeze leftover puree — merely defrost a dice for a straightforward portion.) 

    BTW — in case you are vegetarian/vegan or for no matter purpose don’t need to feed your child meat, Amara’s plant-based protein flavors had been particularly developed to supply complementary amino acids which, in tandem, mirror extra absorbable animal proteins. 


    Fats has a nasty rap — however that is altering! All of us want fats in our diets, and for youngsters particularly, dietary fats is essential. It’s power dense, accommodates important fatty acids, each provides and helps with vitamin absorption (like A, D, E, and Okay), and is foundational for the manufacturing of hormones. To not point out, fats is SO essential for early mind growth and functioning: lipids (fatty acids) assist make up the central nervous system construction itself and in addition play a serious purposeful position in stimulating neurological growth and development. 

    To present you a way of issues, infants derive roughly 40-50% of their power from fats in breast milk or components. So, yeah

    The priority with introducing infants to a weight-reduction plan of low-fat complementary meals is that such meals deprive them of the power consumption their rising our bodies and brains want — as a result of infants can’t eat sufficient low-fat meals (by way of amount) to make up the distinction. Within the worst-case state of affairs, over time this might result in restricted development. Moreover, since style preferences are forming throughout infancy and early childhood, avoiding fatty complementary meals might steer youngsters off-track from wholesome habits, and in case you haven’t learn the information within the final decade, your complete low-fat worldview was fallacious. (That’s one other story for an additional day…) 

    Verdict: Fats is a crucial element of the weight-reduction plan within the first few years of life and shouldn´t be restricted. 

    How-to: Merely including 1-2 teaspoons of oil (natural, cold-pressed) to the primary meal of the day can take its energy-from-fat up by 10%. Intention for natural, cold-pressed oils wealthy in mono- or polyunsaturated fatty acids (aka important fatty acids) like rapeseed, flaxseed, olive, or avocado. A sliver of butter can work in a pinch, too. 


    Chances are you’ll suppose that including spices to complementary meals in your child sounds uncommon, nevertheless it’s not world wide. That mentioned, the best method to toddler feeding within the first 12 months is about constructing layers. A basis, if you’ll. 

    Infants have very delicate tastes, particularly early on, and don’t want extremely superior or developed recipes (significantly, they don’t). A wise method is to introduce a child first to a “plain” meals, and permit her time to change into acquainted with the meals, earlier than including *small quantities of spices to it. Please be aware: you don’t have so as to add spices to complementary meals; spices don’t essentially contribute any vitamins or energy to a dish, so utilizing them is extra about exposing infants to a better number of nuanced flavors than the rest. 

    Verdict: There’s no want to include spices into complementary meals from a dietary perspective, however doing so step by step and in small doses may also help broaden a child’s palate early on 😉. 

    How-to: As soon as your child is accustomed to a meals, it’s possible you’ll choose so as to add in tiny quantities of fragrant spices or gentle herbs to combine issues up. Use sparingly and periodically (not each day); *and keep away from sizzling spices! You may learn extra about starter spices for complementary meals right here


    Primarily based on what we learn about breast milk composition and toddler dietary calls for, infants want virtually no salt — their common salt consumption is lower than 1g/each day (in case you didn’t know 🙋🏻‍♀️– that is solely 0.176 teaspoons), which they simply obtain by way of breast milk, components, and/or different stable dishes (that don’t embody added salt). In actual fact, an toddler’s kidneys aren’t designed to deal with rather more than this paltry quantity. Thus, there is no such thing as a purpose so as to add salt to a child’s meals. 

    Moreover, salt-taste sensitivities and preferences begin to develop as early as 3-4 months of age — wow — and including salt to complementary meals solely stands to extend a child’s style preferences for salty meals… which isn’t essentially a great factor. 

    Verdict: Added salt is pointless in a child’s weight-reduction plan, and an excessive amount of of it may be deleterious. Greatest to go away it out. 

    How-to: Move on the shaker. LOL. 


    You most likely already know that people have an innate choice for candy flavors — scientists can see it in motion even amongst 6-month-olds, who already desire sweeter drinks.

    However — you most likely additionally already know that Too A lot Sugar contributes to myriad well being issues spanning from early childhood effectively by means of maturity. So maybe it’s no shock: there isn’t any want so as to add sugar to complementary meals for infants (or to meals for anyone of any age, for that matter).

    Sure, our our bodies want glucose to perform correctly, however we will get loads of glucose from pure sources (corresponding to complete grain cereals, legumes, fruits, greens, and breast milk/components for infants). Further sucrose (desk sugar) not solely constitutes empty energy but in addition contributes to an addictive course of whereby candy flavors set off the discharge of dopamine, and we then go on to hunt them out. It’s not a great cycle — and including sugar to infants’ meals dangers setting them up for this actual scenario come childhood, plus establishing unhealthy consuming and feeding habits which can be onerous to kick. (You may be taught extra concerning the dangerous results of added sugar right here.)

    Verdict: Consultants strongly advise in opposition to including sugar to complementary meals and serving any sweetened drinks to infants — further sugar is pointless, confers no benefits, and will contribute to overly-sweet style preferences. There are, nevertheless, loads of naturally-sweet meals which can be healthful, wholesome, and nutrient-dense.

    How-to: Don’t add sugar to any do-it-yourself child meals, and ensure to at all times select ready meals with no added sugars, too — like every thing from Amara. 😁


    When you’re excited about incorporating meat/fish, added fat, or spices to your child’s weight-reduction plan, Amara may also help with the menu! You may pair any of our scrumptious vegetable-based dishes with a meat or a fish, or attempt including a touch of oil or spice to your child’s favorites. All of Amara’s complementary child meals are comprised of actual natural substances (and NO added sugar, salt, chemical substances, and all the remainder), delivering all of the comfort of store-bought child meals with none of the trade-offs. It’s like do-it-yourself child meals, however simpler. 👏 And even higher — it’s setting you and your little one up for a lifetime of joyful, wholesome consuming.


    Amara’s Chief Nutritionist: Sonia A. Schiess, PhD in Diet, specialised  within the introduction of solids and liquids to infants. Sonia’s ardour began when she was learning vitamin and dietetics in college, finishing a put up diploma in Human Diet. Afterward, she accomplished her PhD as a nutritionist, with a concentrate on introducing meals within the first 12 months of a child’s life. Her huge expertise offers her a novel perspective, drawing from her time in clinics, hospitals, impartial consulting and college analysis. She’s authored a number of papers together with “Introduction of complementary feeding”; “Introduction of doubtless allergenic meals within the toddler’s weight-reduction plan throughout the first 12 months of life” and “Consumption of power offering liquids throughout the first 12 months of life” in 5 European nations. The mixture of Sonia’s science and our chef’s magic ensures each Amara product is just not solely optimized in your child’s well being however is scrumptious as effectively.


    At Amara, we use a nutrient pressed expertise to lock within the style, texture and vitamins of recent meals with none components or added sugar. Store our nutritious child meals line for plant-based proteins, complete grains, and vegetable and fruit blends that mothers and infants love, and our toddler line for yogurt smoothie melts which can be plant-based, style scrumptious and are good for sitting on the desk or on-the-go.



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