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Which comes first for baby, veggies or meat? Add to ...

The question: What should I introduce first to my baby: veggies or meat?

The answer: The introduction of solid foods used to be recommended at four months; experts changed that to six months a few years ago. The thinking was that by delaying the introduction of solids, the risks for allergies and obesity may be lowered.

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In terms of the sequence of solids introduced, there is very little science. And not all nutrition experts agree on the quality of the science.

At a pediatric conference a few years ago, Frank Greer, chairman of the nutrition committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics, gave a compelling lecture on this topic. His research showed that there were few evidence-based papers on the topic; it’s more tradition than science that determines the order in which foods are introduced to babies.

Traditionally, most parents have opted to introduce veggies before meat. Plant-based diets have become more popular in recent years, and some experts have suggested there is no rush to start red meat. Meat is a good source of iron, but not the only one.

Some parents are also concerned about exposing their babies to meat that comes from animals that were not organically fed. Those who say meat is safe remind us that it is inspected, there are specific regulations in how cows, chickens and pigs are fed, and Canadian standards for food safety are high.

Some parents in my clinic have decided to prepare their own baby food – that way they know what is in it and can control the quality of both the meat and vegetables.

Make sure the vegetables are puréed in order to prevent choking hazards. The brighter the colours the better (go for orange, yellow or green veggies, which are high in antioxidants and phytonutrients).

Cut the meat into small pieces to avoid choking – chunks the size of a dime are a danger as they can get caught in the trachea. The less processed the meat, the better, to limit chemical and sodium content. Meat three times a week is plenty for baby.

Send pediatrician Peter Nieman your questions at pediatrician@globeandmail.com. He will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

Read more Q&As from Dr. Peter Nieman.

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The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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