These delicious baby-friendly turkey and lentil meatballs are nutritious, filling and perfect for little bodies that are growing and developing!
When you start your baby on solid foods, you may be wondering about the best food to start with. There isn’t really a perfect choice. See, almost any food included in the can be the right answer—it’s really up to you. Traditionally, iron-fortified single-grain cereal thinned out with breastmilk or formula was the gold-standard first food for baby. Although it’s still an option, it is no longer the only starter-food choice. Notice in the recipe though, I did include the option of adding iron-fortified cereal to the ingredients (to boost iron and add texture). I often do this with finger foods because it’s a great way to add iron and use up baby cereal that hasn’t been used! In fact, these finger food recipes are perfect for baby.
These meatballs are iron-rich
Iron-rich foods should be introduced right from the get-go (as soon as you start solids foods, around 6 months), as your baby’s iron needs increase around this time. The reason for this is that baby’s iron stores are depleted by 6 months of age (they were built up in the womb and lasted until 6 months of age). Babies between 6 and 12 months of age should be offered iron-rich foods at least twice a day. Things like tender pieces of meat or finely minced, ground, or mashed cooked meat, deboned fish, poultry, well-cooked whole egg, beans, and lentils are great first foods and iron-rich choices. These meatballs are also the perfect way to provide your baby with iron, among other important nutrients (like protein!).
Protein is important for babies
Babies are in big-time growth in the first year of life, and protein is the building block for tissues such as muscles, organs, skin, and nails. It’s important that baby is getting enough every day. They’ll still be receiving a lot of it from breastmilk or formula, but it’s still important to offer protein-rich foods at most meals and snacks, such as meats, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, nut butters, seeds, tofu, full-fat Greek yogurt, and cheese. I included both ground turkey AND lentils in this recipe because both are chock-full of protein as well as iron (and many other important nutrients).
Introducing a nice variety of tastes and textures between 6-9 months is important for oral-motor development, dexterity and to widen their palate. These meatballs are the perfect size and texture for a baby learning how to self-feed.