I am often asked…what is the BEST food for a baby?
It’s important not to demonize or idolize specific foods, since all of them have benefits and drawbacks. But one that really does deserve a spotlight for babies is organ meat, liver in particular. Cultures around the world and past generations knew of the nutritional benefits of offal (aka organ meat). Unfortunately, cooking liver has falling out of favor in recent generations. I never grew up eating it – very few of us did.
If you are new to organ meat and embarking on it for your baby, I recommend starting with chicken liver. It is milder in flavor and higher in iron than beef liver. Liver is one of the MOST nutrient dense foods you can feed your baby – meaning it has a significant amount of nutrients per bite of the food. Since babies eat so little in terms of volume, we want to make sure all the bites they take are getting them nutrients they need to grow. Nutrient density is so important that I devoted an entire lesson to it in The Real Food Baby course, and my recipe for a baby friendly liver paté recipe is also included in the cookbook that comes with the course.
The great thing about liver in paté form is that it is the perfect texture for a baby to self-feed off a preloaded spoon, or later to eat off of sprouted toast etc. For adults who find eating straight liver a hard no (frankly, I’m in this category myself) cubes of liver paté can be incorporated into meals. Any meal that uses ground meat, red meat especially, will easily hide the flavor while giving the whole meal a big nutritional boost. You can add it to meatballs, chili, shepard’s pie, bolognese, meatloaf, burgers etc. Credit to RD Lily Nichols for the “hidden liver” idea of freezing it in cubes for cooking! One small cube of paté per 1 lb of ground meat is undetectable, and you may be able to work up to 2-3 cubes with your family depending on how sensitive they are to the flavor.
A question that often comes up with liver is the high amount of Vitamin A in it. Excessive amounts of synthetic vitamin A have been linked to adverse outcomes, but the naturally occurring vitamin A in the tiny amount of liver a baby would eat is not a concern in moderation. It’s safe to feed 1-2x per week.
If you are interested in giving your little nutrient dense foods through baby-led weaning, The Real Food Baby has everything you need. Designed for 6-18 months, it gives you everything you need to raise a healthy, happy eater for life.
If you’re just getting started with BLW, check out my free workshop Baby-led Weaning 101!