Grill by example: kids chomp what their parents eat.

When Should Red Meat Be Introduced to a Toddler?

by Melissa Willets

Between the age of 1 and 2, your tot is ready to eat small, cut up pieces of red meat. By the age of 2, a child should be eating 1 to 2 ounces of meat per day, including red meat, according to HealthyChildren.org. It's advisable to make your selections lean and low in fat. Red meat options for toddlers that make the grade include lean cuts of beef and lean deli meats, perfect for a quick lunchtime sandwich or snack. Introduce iron rich red meat to your carnivorous cutie but keep in mind that you may need to get creative in your approach.

1. The Value of Red Meat

Introduce lean cuts of red meat to your hungry honey with confidence knowing that they are an important source of protein and vitamins, especially iron, for your little one. "It's important to watch out for iron deficiency after kids reaches 1 year of age. It can affect their physical, mental, and behavioral development, and also can lead to anemia," cautions KidsHealth.org. So, make sure your toddler's healthy diet consists of 7 milligrams of iron each day. Kiddos ages 4 and 5 need 10 milligrams daily, according to KidsHealth.org.

2. Try, Try Again

If this is the first time you are introducing red meat to your munchkin, be warned that she may not go for it. You may prepare a juicy grilled hamburger that makes your mouth water while your honey barely touches it. "Kids are naturally slow to accept new tastes and textures," notes KidsHealth.org. But don't despair. With toddlers and new foods, it's all about persistence. So keep trying!

3. Variation

If your tot is truly resistant to your attempts to get him to eat red meat, try incorporating it into his favorite foods. Mix lean hamburger meat into his spaghetti sauce, sprinkle diced ham on his macaroni and cheese or add a thin slice of lean roast beef to his grilled cheese. Still, your mini-meat eater may not go for this new food group. "Likes and dislikes begin forming even when kids are babies," KidsHealth.org notes.

4. Bite Sizes

Make sure all of your toddler's meat is cut up into small enough bites to prevent a choking hazard. "Cut or break food into bite-size pieces (no larger than ½ inch) and encourage your child to chew thoroughly," recommends HealthyChildren.org. He may pick up his ham by hand or he may test out his fork prowess. Either way, closely supervise your chopping charge during mealtime and always ensure he stays seated while chewing his food.

About the Author

Melissa Willets has been writing about parenting, pregnancy and "all things mom" since 2009. She has contributed to many websites, including Pampers.com and WhatToExpect.com.

Photo Credits

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