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It comes as no surprise that babies have different feeding requirements as they gradually grow. For mothers, it is recommended by pediatricians that your little ones are strictly breastfed in the first four to six months of their lives. You can give your babies other foods besides breast milk afterward. The question that begs for an answer is “Can babies eat canned chicken?”. Find the answer below.
When should I introduce chicken to my baby’s diet?
Customarily, doctors have recommended that vegetables and fruits should be introduced to babies at first, afterwards poultry (chicken and turkey), then red meat at around 7 months old.
Recent studies, however, have proven that feeding meat as an early complementary food, particularly for exclusively breastfeed babies greatly benefits infants when compared to introducing other food.
Typically, iron contained in breast milk is easily absorbed by babies, on the contrary, exclusively breastfed babies absorb less iron milk when they are introduced to complementary food because iron from the milk binds to the solid food they are taking (usually cereal).
As a result, it becomes necessary for infants exclusively breastfed should be supplied with complimentary food rich in iron e.g. lamb and beef. Besides, researchers have found that iron from ground meat is better absorbed by the body.
Feeding your baby with pureed chicken is soft and easy on their mouth. Your baby’s body also benefits from the essential nutrients, such as iron, zinc, selenium etc, found in it. While you can often feed your baby with meat, ensure to only feed your baby with little quantity of meat possibly mixed with another food (like a vegetable puree) because the meat is very rich in protein, in high quantity, can be strenuous on your baby’s just developing kidney.
Meat from animals is highly rich in protein but chicken is highly recommended because it contains high quantity protein with low-fat content.
Chicken with its skin removed (although yum!) has very low-fat compared to other meats. The saturated fat, especially present in the lean meat of chicken, is very healthy for the body. Additionally, (except on the skin) the cholesterol content on the chicken is minimal.
Chicken has high-quality protein content (3 oz of cooked chicken has about 28g of protein). Additionally, it has 9 essential amino acids of animal origin. Thus, it supplies your body with proteins of high biological value
Vitamins and Minerals
Chicken supplies vitamins like vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and vitamin B3, which is crucial for fats and sugar metabolism, in your body and to maintain healthy cells.
It also contains minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, selenium and phosphorus.
Can babies eat canned chicken?
Most moms are wondering and asking “Can babies eat canned chicken? While canned or processed chicken is an excellent source of lean protein, providing a similar amount of nutrients as unprocessed chicken and is convenient, you might be uncertain about feeding it to your baby! You could have reservations about its healthiness and how safe it is for consumption.
In the process of producing canned foods, the foods are processed and placed into the can. Afterwards, the can is then packed with liquid sauce or brine, sealed and also heated. After the heating of the can, the can is then cooked and sealed at a temperature high enough to sterilize the food and ensure that the food has a long shelf-life.
Firstly, an issue with this method of preservation is that the cans are usually coated with Bisphenol A (BPA) to further prevent contamination and spoilage of the food but the BPA could leak into the food during the heating process. Many types of research have linked it to cause obesity in young girls and miscarriages in women.
Oftentimes, canned foods are preserved using highly concentrated levels of preservatives such as sugar(s) and salt (especially sodium). The preservatives help to prolong the shelf life of the food but intake of excess salt and sugar is not good for your baby and even for you.
Although by rinsing the food, you could lower the salt content (up to 23%), you could lose important nutrients contained in the food.
You might think that the nutritional value of canned food is low. Research has shown that canned and unprocessed chicken have similar nutritional content. The canning method helps stability and enhance the longevity of the product. While heating the can could destroy some nutrients in the food e.g. Vitamin B and other water-soluble vitamins, others are enhanced by the heat e.g. Vitamin E and other fat-soluble vitamins, respectively.
Conversely, you might find that the taste of canned chicken is not as palatable as the fresh one after cooking it. This could be because it has undergone some processing before it was packed. Further heating while cooking at home, thus affects its texture and taste.
However, making use of canned food can be very convenient for cooking. It has less hassle while buying it and it does not require much effort to cook it, unlike the unprocessed chicken. It is readily available at a cheaper price than the fresh or frozen chicken.
As mothers, you should be mindful of what you feed your babies. They are growing and their bodily function is not capable enough to handle so many things, your body can take.
Therefore, if you must use canned food to prepare your little one’s food, you should consider the following:
- You should only resort to canned chicken if fresh or frozen ones are not available to you.
- Though nutritious, they are not very suitable for making purees for babies.
- You should strictly read through their labels to help you select BPA-free canned chickens and possibly ones with lesser or no amount of sodium. Don’t forget that canned foods are packed in concentrated sugar or salt solution which is harmful to your baby.
- Select the ones with good shelf-lives and ensure their cans are not damaged.
Lastly, check-in with your doctor before proceeding to feed your baby any type of complementary food. Talk about foods that could potentially give your baby allergic reactions with the pediatrician.