Chicken for Babies: Nutritional Value, Health Benefits & Recipes

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When can you introduce non-vegetarian food to your baby? Fruits and veggies are fine but non-vegetarian parents might want to introduce their baby to the taste of chicken as early as possible. Chicken has several nutritional benefits since it is low in fat and high in proteins which form the building blocks. It also makes for a great finger food. But parents need to know when they can let chicken appear on their baby’s platter.

MomJunction tells you about the benefits and nutritional values of chicken for babies, and also shares some really simple recipes you can try.
Read on!

When Can Babies Eat Chicken?

A baby can start eating chicken from the sixth month, which is when solids foods are introduced in their diet (1). Begin with two servings of pureed chicken per day with each serving not greater than two tablespoons. Gradually increase the portion size.

Health Benefits Of Chicken For Babies

Chicken can be an excellent baby food thanks to its numerous nutritional properties:

  1. Healthy muscle growth: 100g of chicken contains 18.6g of protein, which gets concentrated during the cooking process and increases in quantity. Proteins are essential for a baby’s growth since they facilitate muscle growth. Also, proteins from animal sources unlike plant sources are easily digestible and readily absorbed by the body. (2).
  1. Improves the circulatory system: Chicken contains iron which is necessary for the growth of red blood cells. It is rich in potassium, which keeps blood vessels in good condition.
  1. Great for the bones: 100g of chicken contains 15mg of calcium and 182mg of phosphorus. Both these minerals play a significant role in the formation of strong bones.
  1. Vitamins facilitate brain development: Chicken is rich in vitamins including C and A. It also contains vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, which is essential for brain development in infants (3).
  1. Micronutrients for healthy immunity: Chicken contains micronutrients such as zinc and magnesium, which play a significant role in maintaining healthy immunity.

[ Read: When Can Babies Eat Meat ]

Nutritional Value Of 100g of Chicken (Raw)

Nutrient Unit Value Per 100g
Vitamin C1.6mg
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)0.06mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.12mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)6.801mg
Vitamin B60.35mg
Vitamin B9 (Folate)6µg
Vitamin B120.31µg
Vitamin A41µg
Vitamin D0.2µg
Vitamin E0.3mg
Vitamin K1.5µg

Source: United States Department of Agriculture (4)

How To Select And Store Chicken?

  • Select: Always buy fresh chicken from a hygienic store where it is cleaned and dressed well. Any meat, including chicken, is prone to bacterial contamination, therefore, never buy frozen varieties. These could contain pathogens that harm the infant.
  • Choose fresh, organic chicken where the bird is fed only natural food, which is free of antibiotics and hormones. Never buy salted or packaged chicken, which is processed with preservatives.
  • Storage: Buy only as much as you need to cook for the baby . Do not freeze leftover chicken or the chicken baby food since bacteria can propagate easily in it.

[ Read: Is Bacon Safe For Your Baby ]

How To Process Chicken For Babies?

Following are the best ways to cook chicken for your baby.

1. Bake

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC).

Step 2: Cut the chicken into small pieces so that it bakes thoroughly and evenly. 1lb or 453g of chicken takes about 20 minutes to cook properly.

Step 3: You can coarsely puree the chicken with water after it is baked. For toddlers, you can shred the chicken into tiny pieces and serve it as finger food.

2. Boil

Step 1: Cut the chicken into small pieces and completely submerge them in water in a boiling pot.

Step 2: Boil for 30 minutes or longer and then puree the chicken.

3. Poach

Step 1: Cut thin slices of boneless chicken and place them in a saucepan with just enough water to submerge them.

Step 2: Bring the water to boil, and then simmer for 20 minutes or till the chicken is completely tender.

Step 3: Puree the chicken slices with water or strain the nutrient-rich water to use in other baby foods.

Poaching is similar to boiling; only it uses shallow water and thin chicken fillets. Boiling is probably the best way of cooking chicken since it softens the meat for easy pureeing and even kills pathogens better.

Since now we know how to process chicken, let us look at some recipes.

Nutritious Chicken Recipes For Babies

Following are some of the best homemade baby food chicken recipes that are easy to prepare and also nutritious for a baby:

1. Chicken puree

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It is a classic chicken baby food recipe that is widely popular. Pureed chicken for babies is quick and easy to make.

Ideal for age: 6 months and above

You will need:

  • 2 cups of chopped boneless chicken
  • 3-4 cups of water

How to:

  1. Put chicken in a boiling pot or pressure cooker, and cook until the chicken is tender.
  2. Cool and transfer it in a blender with water. Blend to the desired consistency.
  3. If you have used poached or roasted chicken, then cut it into smaller pieces and blend with boiled water. To make chicken soup, add more water.

2. Chicken stew

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Preparing chicken stew or chicken broth for babies is similar to making a puree, but the focus is on water. It is for babies who prefer liquid first foods over solid ones. We use chicken with bone as it contains essential minerals. The solids are later discarded.

Ideal for age: 6 months and above

You will need:

  • 3-4 cups chicken with bone
  • 7-8 cups of water

How to:

  1. Boil chicken thoroughly in a pot or pressure cooker. Cook for 25-30 minutes as it leaches all the nutrients into the water.
  2. Once cooked, let the stew cool, and then strain the liquid using a sieve. The highly nutritious chicken stew is ready.

3. Chicken and rice porridge

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Rice is rich in carbohydrates, which is an excellent energy source for your growing baby.

Ideal for age: 6 months and above

You will need:

  • 2 cups of chopped boneless chicken
  • 2 cups rice
  • 1 cup mashed banana
  • 4-5 cups of water

How to:

  1. Boil chicken while cooking the rice separately.
  2. Once the chicken and rice are cooked, transfer them to a blender with excess water. Since it is porridge, you could add mashed banana for sweetness.
  3. Blend rice, chicken, and mashed banana till desired consistency.

[ Read: Fish Recipes For Babies ]

4. Chicken and apricot puree

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Apricots are sweet, delicious, and make a fantastic accompaniment to chicken.

Ideal for age: 6 months and above

You will need:

  • 2 cups of chopped apricots
  • 2 cups boneless chicken
  • 3-4 cups of water

How to:

  1. Boil the chicken and cook apricots separately, until both ingredients are tender.
  2. Put both in a blender and blend into puree. Add water if you want to thin the consistency.

Chicken baby food recipe with the similar cooking process:

  • Chicken and apple puree: You can prepare a chicken and apple puree the same way. Introduce apples from nine months or above only.

5. Chicken and sweet potato puree

Chicken and sweet potato puree

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Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins, and so is chicken, thus, making it a perfect multi-vitamin puree for the baby.

Ideal for age: 6 months and above

You will need:

  • 2 cups of finely chopped sweet potatoes
  • 2 cups boneless chicken
  • 3-4 cups of water

How to:

  1. Cook the chicken and sweet potatoes separately until they are completely soft and tender.
  2. Blend them to get the desired consistency.

Chicken baby food recipes with the similar cooking process:

  • Chicken and potato puree: Replace sweet potato with regular potatoes to make a delicious chicken and potato puree. Sweet potatoes and potatoes should be introduced in baby foods from six months and above.
  • Chicken and beetroot puree: Beetroot is rich in minerals and several micronutrients. Combine with chicken for a delicious baby food. Ideal for six months and above.
  • Chicken and peas puree: Peas taste great when combined with chicken in a baby food. Introduce peas to the baby only after ten months.

6. Chicken and sago (sabudana) porridge

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Sago pearls or sabudana is light on a baby’s stomach. Their neutral taste makes them an excellent base for porridge with chicken.

Ideal for age: 6 months and above

You will need:

  • 2 cups sago pearls
  • 2 cups boneless chicken
  • 4-5 cups of water

How to:

  1. Boil chicken and sago pearls separately until they are tender.
  2. Once tender, move both the ingredients into a blender and blend coarsely. Once done the porridge is ready to serve to an infant.

7. Chicken and finger millet (ragi) porridge

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Ragi is rich in minerals and makes a great accompaniment to cooked chicken.

Ideal for age: 6 months and above

You will need:

  • 2 cups finger millet flour
  • 2 cups boneless chicken
  • 4-5 cups of water

How to:

  1. Boil water and millet flour together. Simmer and cook for five to seven minutes, stirring continuously to prevent lumps.
  2. Boil chicken separately, and once done transfer it to a blender along with the cooked millet flour. Blend till you achieve the desired consistency else add more water.

8. Minced chicken

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Minced chicken can be a great finger food for your baby. In fact, finely chopped chicken is recommended as the first finger foods for a baby by The American Academy of Pediatrics (5).

Ideal for age: 9 months and above

You will need:

  • 3 cups of boneless chicken
  • 1 cup of water

How to:

  1. You can buy minced chicken or buy boneless chicken and mince it yourself after cooking. The latter option is better since you have a choice to mince the chicken very fine or leave it coarse.
  2. Start the preparation process by cooking the chicken in a pressure cooker. Once done, transfer it to a blender and blend coarsely. The baby should be able to pick the pieces by himself.
  3. If the minced chicken seems dry, then add a cup of water and blend again. It makes the meat soft and easy to swallow for the baby.

[ Read: Eggs Recipes For Babies ]

9. Chicken and lentil puree

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Lentils are rich in proteins and so is chicken, which makes this chicken baby food an excellent protein food.

Ideal for age: 10 months and above

You will need:

  • 2 cups cleaned pigeon pea (toor dal)
  • 2 cups boneless chicken
  • 5-6 cups of water

How to:

  1. Cook the pigeon pea/toor dal in a pressure cooker thoroughly. Boil the boneless chicken separately until tender.
  2. Add the cooked pigeon pea and boiled chicken in a blender and blend to get desired consistency.

10. Chicken and spinach puree

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Chicken tastes great with spinach, and even your baby can enjoy this delicious food combination.

Ideal for age: 12 months and above

You will need:

  • 2 cups chopped spinach
  • 2 cups boneless chicken
  • 4-5 cups of water

How to:

  1. Boil the spinach and boneless chicken separately. Once the spinach is cooked sieve it and discard the water because it contains oxalic acid, which is not good for the baby’s kidneys (6).
  2. Blend the cooked spinach and boiled chicken till you achieve the desired consistency.

11. Chicken casserole

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Chicken casserole for babies is the same as the casseroles which adults eat with some modifications to the method of preparation and presentation so that it suits the little one’s digestion.

Ideal for age: 12 months and above

You will need:

  • 2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 2 cups finely chopped carrots
  • 2-3 cups diced potatoes
  • 4-5 cups finely chopped boneless chicken
  • 3-4 teaspoons of sunflower oil
  • 3-4 chicken stock

How to:

  1. Fry chicken with the vegetables till they are brown and well-cooked. In a separate dish, boil some chicken to make stock.
  2. Transfer the chicken and vegetables into a casserole dish and cook in the oven at 350ºF or 180ºC for an hour.
  3. Once the casserole has cooled, you can serve in two ways – cut it into tiny pieces to serve as finger food or blend coarsely with chicken stock to make a thick puree.

Those were some great chicken baby food recipes that are tasty and healthy. However, you also need to be careful about probable allergy towards chicken.

[ Read: High Calorie Foods For Babies ]

Can A Baby Be Allergic To Chicken?

Chicken has the potential to trigger allergies in infants with sensitive immune and digestive systems. Cooking chicken reduces it allergenicity (7). You must be vigilant and look out for any signs of allergy. Below is a list of the symptoms of chicken allergy.

  • Swollen face and neck: The face swells up especially around the eyelids, nose, and throat. The baby may be unable to open his eyes and could have difficulty in breathing.
  • Abdominal pain: The baby writhes in pain and may have diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Skin hives or rashes: Tiny red bumps in clusters appear all over the body, which are itchy.
  • Fatigue and weakness: The baby appears weak and does not play.

If you notice any of the above symptoms, take your baby to the doctor.

Chicken is a healthy food, so make sure you give it to your baby at the right age. But do not overfeed lest the little one might find it difficult to absorb its goodness.

Did we miss any amazing chicken baby food recipes? Do share with us by leaving a comment below.

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