Babies need protein! Protein and fat are the building blocks for growing and developing brains and bodies. Let’s talk about how to add protein to your stage 2 and 3 purees!
Why do babies need protein
Protein is a building block. It’s critical for the growth and repair functions of the body. Just think about how fast babies grow and double their size. Adequate protein is needed to support this rapid growth.
Dani, one of the nutrition consultants on our expert team, has almost a decade of experience working directly with mamas and babies. Here’s what she has to say about the importance of protein.
“After 9 years of practice, and 5 spent in a pediatric clinic, I am convinced without question protein is the single most important nutrient not only for proper growth, but also for laying the foundation of the childhood brain. When you follow lab work, watch their growth charts and witness their rapid development during the first year of life, you can not help but see the key role protein plays. You can also clearly see the detriment when it is deficient. Babies are dependent on protein in more ways than we even know.”
What protein is good for babies
High quality animal protein provides the most complete nutrition for babies. My favorite proteins for babies are below.
- Grass-fed ground beef or beef roast
- Pasture raised chicken – organic chicken if you can’t find pasture raised
- Organic ground turkey
- Wild caught salmon
When to add protein to purees
Once your baby has begun to acclimate to simple purees, like my basic Butternut Squash Puree, you can start to add in protein. This is typically sometime between your baby turning 6-7 months if you start solids at 6 months. Wondering how to know if your baby is ready to start solids? Check out our free guide – Ready for Solids? You can find the sign up form on our homepage or in the side bar to the right on this page.
How much protein do babies need
The rule of thumb you’ll read is that babies need 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. How does this translate to an average sized baby?
Well, the average 6 month old baby is about 16 to 17-1/2 pounds, or about 7-8 kilograms. Therefore, at six months old, the average baby would need 7-8 grams of protein per day.
And by 12 months, the average baby would be 20-21 pounds, or about 9-10 kilograms, and require about 9-10 grams of protein per day.
First time making baby food?! Make sure you check out our course Starting Solids: A Gentle Approach to Introducing Real Food. It’s a comprehensive step-by-step guide to starting solids in a gut friendly way that supports long-term health and immunity and a positive relationship with food.
How to add protein to puree baby food
Slow cooking proteins is a really great way to make the healthiest, most nutrient dense protein for your little ones. And Instant Pot cooking is great for saving a little time. Here are the simple steps for making purees with protein using a slow cooker or Instant Pot.
- Place all of the ingredients (protein, bone broth and veggies) in your slow cooker or Instant Pot.
- In the slow cooker cook for about 4-6 hours.
- In the Instant Pot cook for 20 minutes.
- Transfer to a high powered blender, like a Blendtec, and puree to your desired consistency.
- You can also use a food processor or immersion blender; they just don’t get the protein quite as smooth, which can be a game changer for helping your littles to enjoy their purees and develop their palate.
Stage 2 + 3 purees with protein for babies
When adding protein to your purees, at first you’ll continue to make them smooth and creamy. And then, as your little adjusts to the change you’ll start to make your purees a little thicker. To make your purees thicker and more textured, start by using less bone broth. Here are the starting points I’d use.
- Stage 2 – start with 1-1/2 cups of bone broth when you cook the ingredients in your slow cooker or Instant Pot.
- Stage 3 – start with 1 cup of bone broth.
You can always add more bone broth in as you puree everything to get it to your desired consistency.
If you make a chunkier puree and it ends up being too thick for your baby, just add more bone broth and blend a little more to thin it out.
How to store purees
When we were in the pureeing stage, I liked to keep a small amount in the fridge to be used up over the next 3-4 days. And then I would freeze the rest in these silicone molds.
Once they are frozen, pop them out of the molds and put them in a freezer storage bag to create a freezer stash of baby food. Over time, you will have a stash to pull from and won’t feel like you have to make fresh purees all of the time!
Make sure to label the freezer bag with the date you made the puree and the ingredients, so you can quickly know what you’re grabbing at a later date.
You can store your purees in the freezer for 3-6 months.
Still have questions about introducing solids
When introducing solids, you want to focus on the digestive system and nutrient dense food. Our course Starting Solids: A Gentle Approach to Introducing Real Food is a comprehensive step-by-step guide to starting solids in a gut friendly way that supports long-term health and immunity and a positive relationship with food.
We help you feel confident that you’re nourishing your baby with nutrient dense food they can actually digest. And we help you troubleshoot digestive issues that may arise as you transition your baby to solid foods.
Your turn to start adding protein to your baby’s purees
It’s easy and budget friendly to make your baby’s first foods. I like to start simple and then add in protein! Leave a comment and rating below to let us know how it goes. We’d love to see your little enjoying their first solids, too!
Tag us in your posts on Instagram @healthy.little.bellies and give us a follow if you don’t already. We’d love to stay connected!
Butternut Squash and Salmon Puree (Stage 2 + 3)
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cubed
- 1.5 cups bone broth (more or less to achieve desired consistency)
- 1/4 lb wild caught salmon, skin removed
- Prep butternut squash and salmon as noted.
- Add all of the ingredients to your slow cooker or Instant Pot.
- Set to cook for 4-6 hours on low in a Slow Cooker or for 20 minutes on Manual High Pressure in an Instant Pot. You can do a natural or quick release with the Instant Pot.
- Once done, transfer to a high powered blender or food processor and puree to desired consistency.
- Serve or store in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3-6 months.