According to some dietitians, beef is one of the best first foods for babies (starting at around six months). Beef is delicious, but it’s also full of all the essential vitamins and nutrients children need, making it one of the healthiest foods for them. It’s an excellent source of zinc, iron, choline, selenium, and B vitamins, which are crucial for growth and development in children. Beef also strengthens the immune system and is rich in high-quality protein which is important for the growth of muscles and bones in babies. However, many toddlers don’t like to eat meat as it can be dry, bland, chewy, and not as flavorful as other types of food like fruits or vegetables. If your little one is a picky eater, it can be a bit challenging to get them to try out new foods. So, if you want to incorporate beef into your child’s meals, here are a few tips on how to get even the pickiest kids to eat beef meat regularly.
1. Cook the meat properly
Kids can turn down food that isn’t cooked properly, therefore if you want your little one to eat more beef, cook the meat to the correct temperature. The beef should be juicy and tender, so if you don’t have one already, get an internal probe thermometer in your kitchen. For instance, ground beef should be cooked to 160º F, medium-rare steaks should be cooked to 145 ° F, medium to 160° F and well done steak should be cooked to 170° F. Roasts should also be cooked to these temperatures, but you should keep in mind that a beef roast will continue to cook after you get it out from the oven. Therefore, after cooking, always let it rest before serving.
2. Start small
One of the most important things to keep in mind when introducing new foods to young children is to start small and slowly, especially when it comes to meat. Children prefer small foods, and they lose interest when they see large portions. So, if you want to get your picky child to eat beef, you can try cutting the meat into small pieces because kids are more likely to try it when it’s in small pieces. You can also add small amounts of ground beef to the foods they already like. Beef is a great source of protein and other essential vitamins, so even the smallest amount will help support a healthy body in children.
3. Include a small amount of beef in their favorite foods
This is one of the easiest ways to get picky children to eat any kind of meat. Add tiny pieces of beef into the foods they already love and where it won’t be as noticeable. Try adding small amounts of shredded beef into an omelet, mixed in with their favorite pasta, or in a sandwich. Your child needs to get used to the idea and taste of meat before you start increasing the amount. Also, since meat can be tough and chewy for small children, try serving ground or shredded meat to them.
4. Add sauce to the meat
No one likes to eat bland meat, so try adding some kind of marinade, dip, or sauce to make the beef more flavorful for your kid to eat. You can add a delicious sauce to the beef before or after cooking, but keep in mind that you need to avoid too much salt and stay away from honey if your baby is under one year old.
5. Get creative
Kids can lose interest in eating certain foods if they don’t look appealing. The way food is presented can have a huge effect on acceptance. Therefore, if you want your child to start eating beef, get creative and make it fun. Find new and creative ways to present the food on your child’s plate and sneak beef into their meals. Children love seeing their food cut up into different shapes and sizes every day. Think of meatballs on toothpicks, cheesy dips with ground beef, sloppy joes, or ground beef mini pizzas.
6. Cook with your child
One of the best ways to get your picky eater to start eating beef is to get them to cook with you. Children love to be a part of cooking, so pick an easy recipe and ask your little one to help you prepare dinner. While you’re cooking, ask them to taste it so that they can have input on seasoning. Cooking allows kids to explore their senses, like smelling a variety of ingredients, touching different textures and shapes, and tasting different foods. So, when they’re involved in the cooking process, kids are more likely to try new and unfamiliar foods, therefore they can start eating healthier.