Introducing into a baby’s diet as early as possible could be more beneficial to growth than maintaining a traditional infant diet.
The debate as to what food should be fed to babies during developmental stages has been the source of some debate for several years.
Formula and baby foods are routinely recommended for maintaining the health and nutrition of young infants at this crucial period, but new research suggests adding meat to their diet could also be beneficial.
In the study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found formula-fed infants benefitted from eating meat, which provides an important source of protein.
Meats like pork also provided important micronutrients for infants and serves as an excellent complementary food for infants ready to eat solid foods.
The study saw a small group of healthy, formula-fed babies aged 5 to 12 months, given meat-based complementary food, such as pureed beef and ham. Another group was given dairy-based foods to compare.
Prior to the research, the infants’ protein intake was rated at around two grams per kilogram each day. During the experiment, this was rose to three grams per kilogram every day.
Researchers also saw a greater rate of growth among the infants that consumed meat as part of the seven-month study. Those who consumed meat grew nearly one inch more than 12-month-olds fed fairy foods.
It should also be noted that even though the protein intake increased, fat and calorie levels in the meat and dairy groups stayed the same despite the protein increase.
Minghua Tang, assistant professor of paediatrics at the University of Colorado Denver-Anschutz and lead author on the study, suggested infants in this age range could now start eating pureed meat or dairy-based foods as part of a balanced diet.
“Our research suggests introducing higher amounts of protein and introducing meat, such as pork, into the diet at five months could be potentially beneficial for linear growth (length gain),” Tang said.