What Lily Ate - Part 7

Posted by Kristin on November 16, 2016


Poor little Lily has been full of cold this week and has completely lost her appetite. She’s not a bit interested in solids at all and has been fussing with her bottles. Combined with yet more teeth cutting through, coughing and spluttering, a runny nose and not getting a restful sleep, she has been very cranky and had a tough old week indeed!

As a result, unfortunately we don’t have much to report in terms of her weaning journey this week. Although, I suppose you could say that this is all part and parcel of the journey! The main thing for me during difficult weeks like this one, is that Lily was getting enough to do her. How do I know that? Well I suppose it’s just a mothers instinct! She hasn’t lost any weight, and her nappies were normal and wet, which told me she was hydrated. On this occasion, we didn’t have to take Lily to the GP. If you’re ever in any doubt about your babies health, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor or health visitor.

In my last post, I blogged about the introduction of meat into Lily’s diet as she has now passed the seven months mark. I focused on the importance of including iron-rich foods such as meat and chicken in their little meals, so this week I’ve chosen to continue that theme and post about the importance of including protein in baby’s diets.

Why do babies need protein?
Protein is essential for everyone of all ages for maintenance and repair of tissues and cells in the body.
Protein is super important for babies as it supports growth and development and contributes to about 10% of their energy requirements. Protein is found in the blood, organs, skin and glands.
During the rapid growth period in the first few years of a baby’s life, a huge number of new body cells are created and extra protein is needed for this. Babies and children who don’t get enough protein may experience stunted growth, low muscle mass, fatigue, irritability and a low immune system.

How much protein does my baby need?
At 7+ months, your baby should be eating three small solid meals per day. Babies between 6 and 24 months old, require 11-13 grams per day. You should try to give your baby protein in a minimum of two out of their three meals. *Premature babies require considerably more protein, so consult your GP or health visitor for further information if your little one was preterm.

Where can babies get protein?
Babies can get protein from the food they eat, from both animal and non-animal foods sources.
Breastmilk is an excellent source of protein and will supply all of the protein that a baby needs until they are 4-6 months old. From then on, protein-rich solids such as pureed meats, well cooked egg yolk, cooked pulses and legumes, and pasteurised full fat milk and hard cheeses, should supplement breast/formula milk feeds.

What is protein?
Protein is made up of little chains known as amino acids. There are 22 different amino acids in protein. In babies and toddlers, 13 are non-essential and 9 are essential.
The 13 non-essential amino acids can be made in the body. The remaining 9 essential amino acids cannot be made by the body and so must be provided in the food we eat.

Foods that provide all nine essential amino acids are known as ‘complete proteins’. Examples of complete proteins include animal foods such as:
•    Meat including beef, pork and lamb
•    Fish
•    Poultry including chicken and turkey
•    Eggs
•    Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt

Foods that contain some but not all of the essential amino acids are known as ‘incomplete proteins’ and examples include non-animal foods, such as:
•    Grains such as wheat, rice, millet and oats (and foods made from them, including bread products and pasta)
•    Nuts and seeds
•    Pulses such as lentils
•    Legumes such as chickpeas, baked beans, red kidney beans and black-eye beans
•    Soya beans and products made from them such as tofu
•    Mycoprotein (known as Quorn), from (9+ months)

Interestingly, mixing different combinations of non-animal protein sources, can help ensure all of the amino acids are obtained in the right proportions and thus become a complete source of protein. Usually the combination will be a starchy food, together with pulses or nuts. Examples include:
•    Rice with peas or mashed lentils
•    Hummus and pitta bread
•    Wheaten bread and hard, pasteurised cheese
•    Breadsticks and soft, pasteurised cheese
•    Soup made with lentils, beans or split peas, with fingers of toast
•    Baked beans on toast
•    Cereal and milk
All of the above combinations make great little finger foods or snacks for your baby.

How do I prepare protein rich animal foods so that they are suitable for my baby to eat?
Unlike other foods like fruit, veggies and dairy products, meats have a very different texture. Don’t be surprised if it takes a few tries for your baby to decide if they like meat or not. If they don’t take to meat straight away, it can be useful to wait a few weeks before trying again. Remember, they have to learn to like new tastes and chew new textures!

Fish, especially white fish like cod and plaice are a great protein to start your baby with as they have a mild taste, and softer texture. Of course, be super careful with bones!

Chicken and red meats have a grainy texture when they’re blended and will probably need plenty of liquid to keep them soft, moist and easy for your baby to swallow.

Meats of course have a stronger taste than your baby has been used to so far. To make the transition easier, try to add a larger proportion of vegetables to meat. Babies are usually quite receptive to new flavours so you could try adding small amounts of herbs and mild spices with the meat and veggie combinations.
Meat can be cooked healthily using a variety of methods including poaching, steaming, baking or grilling.

Cooking meat separately from veggies and pureeing it with the cooking liquid allows plenty of variety, as you can mix and match different fruits and veg with the meat to create a range of flavours. The alternative is to cook your meat and veggies together, allowing flavours to develop more fully. The texture should be less grainy as the braised meat will be moist when it’s pureed together with the vegetables.  

Adding cooked fruits such as apples or pears, as well as veggies such as carrots and peas, will add extra flavour and produce a texture that’s easier to swallow.

Once your baby has molars and can chew foods more easily, you could try cutting meat up into very small pieces rather than blending or pureeing.

I advise that you chose meats that are free from hormones and additives and look for organic, grass-fed meat for your babies meals whenever possible.


Protein recipes for your baby:

Chicken, Carrot & Apricot Puree


2 carrots

1/2 chicken breast

2 fresh apricots (if using dried, chose organic to avoid preservatives such as sulphur)

Chicken stock (salt free)


1. Steam chicken breast for 15 mins, ensure it is cooked through. To check, the traditional test is to poke a skewer into the thickest part of the chicken, remove it and observe the juice that drips out. It should be clear, and not show any sign of pink (blood).  

2. Peel and chop the carrots and steam for 10-12 mins or until tender. 

3. Steam the apricots for a few minutes until the skin starts to come away. Remove from the steamer and let cool slightly. Cut in half and remove/ discard the pit and skin. 

4.  Combine the chicken, carrots and apricots in your blender and add stock as required. Blend to the desired consistency and depending on your babies ability to deal with lumps. 

5. Allow to cool to body temperature and serve suitable baby sized portion. Freeze the remaining mixture into individual portions and freeze for a maximum of 3 months. 


Apple, Carrot & Quinoa Puree

Quinoa is a complete protein and can be easily digested by your baby. It is a great option for vegetarian or vegan babies, or for those who initally refuse the texture of meats. 


2 small carrots

1 apple 

1 tablespoon quinoa


1. Peel and chop the carrots and peel, core and chop the apple. Place both in steamer and cook for 10-12 minutes or until tender. 

2. Add quinoa to a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, which should take 5-8 minutes. You will know your quinoa is cooked when it has 'popped' and is tender. 

3. Drain excess water from the quinoa, and add together with the steamed carrots and apple to your blender. Add some of the cooking water from the carrots and apple and blend to the desired consistency. 

4. Allow to cool to body temperature and serve suitable baby sized portion. Freeze the remaining mixture into individual portions and freeze for a maximum of 3 months. 


What are your thoughts on protein in babies? Are you weaning a vegetarian or vegan baby? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below, or email info@heavenlytastyorganics.com with any questions.