Iron Rich Foods for babies listed in 2018
Iron is a chemical compound which is a vital for human body and it facilitates the transport of oxygen throughout the body. Moreover, it is an essential mineral. Although it is true that, many people think that iron is not a nutrient, but researches show that low iron is the most common and significant nutritional deficiency in the U.S. However, iron is especially important for women and babies. So, this post will be covering iron rich foods for babies. Also, you will learn about the importance of iron and you will be able to make a list of high iron foods for baby.
Recommended: Reviewed popular Iron Supplements for Baby.
Why your baby needs iron?
Iron is a vital nutrient for making hemoglobin, which is an essential component of RBCs (Red Blood Cells) that transports oxygen throughout the body. So, when our body falls short of iron, red blood cells cannot be generated sufficiently and our organs and tissues will not get enough oxygen; that requires for the development and growth according to the age. In addition to that, red blood cells will become weak, pale and small (this situation is called anemia) and they will not be able to transport enough oxygen to the body.
However, breastfeeding babies can absorb iron from the breast milk, but breastfeeding mother who has an anemia, should go for screening her baby to check out whether the baby has iron deficiency or not.
Once a baby reaches to his/her 6 months (this is the time for rapid growth and the starting of solid foods), their first foods should be fortified with iron. Because, pediatricians say that, an iron-rich diet helps to prevent anemia in babies. Moreover, babies and children require iron-rich foods for the proper and normal development of their brain. Therefore, you need to ensure iron rich foods for baby.
Symptoms of iron deficiency in babies
When your baby does not get sufficient amount of iron, he/she may show the following signs:
- Fade skin
- Slow weight gain
- Lack of appetite or no appetite
Iron deficiency in babies may make them physically less active and also makes their development process slower. In children, iron deficiency may lead to lack of concentration in study, lack of attention, and poor academic performance as well. Moreover, low level of iron also can make your children feeling exhausted and weak.
How much iron does a baby need?
Babies are born with a store of reserve iron which comes from their mother’s blood while they are in the womb and it lasts around for 6 months. I said earlier that, breastfeeding babies will get everything they need from their mother’s milk, but when breast milk is not an option, you may need to use an infant formula which is fortified with iron. Also, the formula must be cow’s milk based formula. When the baby starts to consume solid foods, the quantity of iron they require will be depending on their age.
The iron reserves at birth usually provide 6 months to 1 year at best. Although breast milk provides a lot of nutritional elements, it contains a little amount of iron. So, a food that is fortified with iron can fix this phenomenon. However, as your baby grows and starts being introduced to solid type foods, it is vital to know how much iron your baby requires as well as the sources of iron rich foods for baby.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that, a minimum level of 11 milligrams per day is required for the babies up to 1 year old. On the other hand, toddlers in between 1 and 3 years of age, require at least 7 milligrams of iron per day.
However, as the requirement of iron varies, you need to consult with the pediatricians to meet up your baby’s requirements.
Now I will show a chart that shows the approximate requirement of iron for babies and children according to their age.
|Age||Amount of iron per day|
|7 to 12 months||11mg|
|1 to 3 years||7mg|
|4 to 8 years||10mg|
|9 to 13 years||8mg|
|14 to 18 years||Boys: 11mg ; Girls: 15mg|
Iron rich foods for toddlers & babies
To provide your baby or toddler with enough iron, you should know the of high iron foods for baby. Generally, pediatricians recommend introducing iron rich solid foods to your baby when he/she reaches to 6 months old.
There are different types of foods that are rich in 2 different types of iron.
- Heme iron: usually comes from meat and they can be easily absorbed by the body.
- Non-heme iron: usually comes from plant sources.
However, to make a list of iron rich foods for baby or toddler, you have to follow several techniques. Because, it is also very important to let your baby absorb the iron smoothly. For example, to help your baby to absorb more iron, you can add foods that contain vitamin C such as, tomatoes, oranges etc. Besides these, cooking in a cast iron pan also increase the iron content in foods.
Now I will try to provide you with a list of high iron foods for baby and this list also iron rich foods for toddlers as well.
- Cereal with iron
Iron fortified with cereal for babies is the most common first preferable option recommended by the pediatricians when babies just starting to get solid foods. Also, these cereals contain a large variety of cereal grains and they are especially designed for young babies. Moreover, rice cereal is a particular choice of cereal because of its easy digestion capacity. In addition to that, barley, wheat, oats and different varieties of grains those are fortified with iron are also common and they are widely available.
However, most of these cereals contain around 3 to 6 milligrams of iron per serving, therefore only a few servings are sufficient to meet up your baby’s daily need. Moreover, cereals can also be added with some other formula or breast milk to facilitate the digestion of solid foods.
Eggs are also one of the best sources of iron food for baby. Especially, the yolk portion contains the highest amount. You can serve egg yolks to your baby in different ways. However, before introducing eggs or egg yolks to your baby, you need to search for the family history of egg allergies and toxicity. If there is a positive, it is better to avoid eggs or you can wait until your baby reaches to 1 year old. On the other hand, if there is no family history of allergies, you can offer your baby with different recipes of eggs. Remember! Do not give the egg white until your baby is 1 year old.
However, never give your baby uncooked or raw eggs to eat, because it may results in salmonella poisoning. So, cook them well before serving. Besides these, eggs are good source of protein as well.
- Red meat
Red meat is a nice source of iron for babies over 6 months old. Especially, heme-iron comes from red meat. Moreover, liver is also a good source of iron and you can add it to the other foods of your baby. Besides these, red meat is a common and widely available source of iron, but you should check what type of red meat causes allergic reaction to your baby and you should avoid it.
Quinoa is a famous especially among the vegetarians. Also, it contains 4.6% iron and it is another excellent iron rich food. Moreover, it is easy to eat by your baby and easily digestible. However, you can give your baby quinoa alone, or you can make some recipes to provide your baby with more iron and nutrition.
Turkeys have comparatively dark meat, while the dark meat contains higher amount of iron than the white meat. A 8 ounce serving of turkey meat contain around 5 milligrams of iron and it can be chopped into small pieces to add with your baby food or cook the meat until it becomes enough soft before giving it to your baby.
- Green vegetables with leafs
Green vegetables are the non-heme sources of iron rich foods. Dark and leafy green vegetables such as leaf cabbage and spinach are excellent dietary source of iron food for baby. You can add them to your baby’s food by chopping, cooking or as salad dishes. However, you can fortify them by adding some vitamin C foods such as a little orange or lemon juice or other vegetables that contain vitamin C.
- Sweet potatoes
We all love to eat French fries as a fast food, but it is not the good option for a growing baby although it is so tasty. On the other hand, sweet potatoes contain higher amount of iron than the other varieties of potatoes and they are also rich in vitamin C. So, the thing is that, if you give sweet potatoes to your baby, it will not only meet up the requirements of iron, but it will also help to digest the food. However, you can make several recipes of sweet potatoes and your baby will like it.
Legumes are also a good source of iron. There are different types of legumes such as chick peas, lentils, dried peas, beans that contain around 5 milligrams per cup of serving. Although they are excellent sources of iron, but they cannot easily be absorbed. Therefore, you can add them with cereals or add some citrus foods that are rich in vitamin C.
- Tofu or bean curd
This is a popular food and it is also an excellent source of iron. They are usually made from the soy milk. Especially, the people who are vegetarian or having problems with cow’s milk, tofu is very famous among them and it is very easy to prepare. Moreover, it is soft, delicious and the texture is excellent, so the kids also love it a lot.
- Dried fruits
Dried fruits such as dried grapes, apricots, dates are also a good source of iron. A serving of dried fruits contains around 3 milligrams of iron. Kids love to eat these dried fruits because they are sweet and tasty. Also, you can chop the fruits to serve as toppings to your desserts such as yogurt, pudding etc.
Finally I want to say that, iron is an important component that is required to prevent your baby from immature or underdeveloped nervous system, anemia that occurs due to iron deficiency and several other health problems. However, you also require a sufficient amount of iron along with your baby. If you are a breastfeeding mom, then it is very important to eat iron rich foods, because your baby will get iron from you. So, work out with your inspiration and creativity, try different recipes of iron rich foods and ensure that your baby is getting enough.