Iron rich foods are important in the development of growing babies. As an expecting mother or nursing mother, you must have got a lot of advice on iron rich foods for babies. This is because it is essential for your baby, and you should pay good attention to it.
Breast milk is a balanced diet and contains all the nutrients and vitamins a baby needs – including iron. Isn’t that wonderful? Well, frankly, it is. So, when you are about to wean your baby off breast milk and introduce them to solids, iron is one of the most important nutrients to consider in their diet. [Read; Baby-Led Weaning Recipes]
In this article, we have extensively discussed all you need to know about iron rich foods for babies, kids, and toddlers. So let us get started, shall we?
Iron Rich Foods for Babies, Kids & Toddlers – What Foods Are High in Iron for Baby?
As we mentioned earlier, iron is important in your baby’s everyday diet. However, because there are not many famous meals that have iron content, parents and caregivers are often worried about whether their babies, kids, and toddlers are having enough.
Babies need iron in their system for the development of their nervous system and other important parts. So, it is never a good thing when a baby suffers from iron deficiency.
However, it is essential to note that if you are feeding your baby with an iron-fortified formula, you do not need to give the baby any iron supplements. Let us go further to discuss all you need to know about iron and iron rich foods.
What are Iron Rich Foods?
By and large, iron rich foods refer to food gotten from plants and animal sources that are high in iron. Iron is an important nutrient needed in the body for adequate development and growth. Some of the foods that are known to be high in iron include the under-listed:
- Poultry and Seafood
- Legumes like Beans, Lentils, and Peas
- Dark Green Coloured Vegetables
- Nuts and Seed
- Dried Fruits like Apricots, Raisins, and Dates
- Healthy Cereal and Grain Products
What is Iron?
This is one of the most frequent questions which parents and caregivers ask in a nutrition class. We know protein, carbohydrates, and vitamins, but what really is iron?
Iron is an essential mineral that plays an essential role in the growth and development that occurs in the human body. Among its numerous benefits include helping red blood cells to transport oxygen to the cells in the human body. In essence, without iron in our system, our red blood cells cannot perform their primary duty of transporting oxygen for our cells to function.
In babies, kids, and toddlers, iron is needed to develop the brain and the body. If there is a deficiency of iron in a baby, both the brain and the body of the baby will not develop in the right way.
Do Babies Need Iron?
If you know me, then you would know that I like answering direct questions with a straightforward answer before I try to explain further. Yes, babies need iron!
In fact, iron is so important to a baby that nature makes provision for babies to be born with an iron reserve. How? Let me explain. During the last few months before delivery, the baby in the uterus begins to store iron from the mother. Under normal circumstances, the iron that babies reserve from the mother before delivery can serve them adequately for about 4 to 6 months.
During this period, the baby uses the iron reserve in the development of his or her central nervous system and brain. When the reserve begins to diminish, the baby will need additional iron from their meals. So, it becomes important to consciously include iron rich foods in their diet as you introduce them to solid foods. When preparing the first bites for your baby, consciously include iron rich foods to fortify their iron reserves.
In cases where a baby was born prematurely, there are chances that the baby was not able to build up enough iron reserve to carry them for the first 4 to 6 months. In such cases, the doctors will provide iron supplements for the baby. This goes a long way to show you how much babies need iron in their system.
Why Do Babies Need Iron?
Babies need iron for their overall growth and development. It is essential in the development of their brain and central nervous system.
Iron helps to empower hemoglobin – the component which transports the oxygen in red blood cells to all parts of the body. This tells you how important iron is in the body. Without it, development in babies cannot occur because iron containing oxygen transportation metalloprotein in their red blood cells is absent.
Also, iron ensures the adequate development of the neurological system in newborn babies and kids.
Iron Rich Foods for Babies
You need to ensure that your baby gets a good dose of iron in their meals. Honestly, achieving this is easier than you ever imagined. Contrary to popular claims, there are actually everyday foods that contain a good dose of iron.
Below, we have listed some iron rich food ideas for you to consider when preparing meals for your baby. Not only do these meals contain a good dose of iron, but they are also very tasty and highly nutritious. Check them out!
10 Iron Rich Foods for Babies
- Mashed or well-cooked beans
- French toast – cut into short sticks
- Chicken or Turkey sticks or balls
- Pureed or mashed sweet potatoes
- Oatmeal served with pureed pumpkin
- Slices of mango in Oatmeal toppings
- Well-cooked lentils served with mashed potato
- Pudding made from Chai seeds
- Applesauce or oatmeal served with blended sesame seeds
- Avocado slices
Iron Rich Foods for Toddlers
When your baby is between the ages of 1 and 3, most of the internal development needed is complete. As a result, their daily recommended value of iron drops to about 7 milligrams. So, while you may not be overly conscious of their iron intake, you need to ensure that they are having a good dose of it.
Also, it is easier because, at this stage, your baby can handle a wider variety of food and enjoy a broader diet. Below, we have listed some iron rich food ideas for your toddler; check them out!
10 Iron-Rich Food Ideas for Toddlers
- Toast or Tuna Salad
- Muffins with Strawberry
- Pumpkin Pancakes
- Noodles made with sesame seeds
- Pasta with delicious pesto sauce
- Spaghetti and meatballs
- Delicious Lentil soup
- Smoothies made from leafy greens and berries
- Smoothie made from peanut butter and strawberry
Iron Rich Foods for Older Kids
If you have older kids, then it becomes really easy. Although the daily recommended value of iron needed rises from 7 milligrams to 10 milligrams for kids between 7 to 8 years, they are more mature to handle the iron rich foods which they may have rejected at a younger age.
However, the daily recommended value drops again to 8 milligrams for kids between 9 to 13 years. The reason for these fluctuations is the fact that kids undergo different levels of development in various phases.
Below, we have highlighted some iron rich foods for older kids. Check them out!
10 Iron Rich Foods for Older Kids
- Spaghetti and meat sauce
- Peanut mango chicken wraps
- Shrimp and stir-fried veggie noodles
- Lentil soup
- Sesame snaps
- Roasted chickpeas
- Minestrone soup
- Pumpkin seeds
- Veggie sticks with hummus
- Nut butter and banana roll-ups
Other Foods High in Iron for Babies
Do you need more meal ideas for foods that are rich in iron for babies? If yes, we have got you covered! Below, we have listed some other foods that are high in iron for your consideration. Check them out!
10 Other Foods High in Iron for Babies
- Nut butter on toast
- Sliced banana and chia seeds
- Iron fortified cereal with fruit
- Smoothie with nut butter
- Fruits and yogurt
- Yogurt parfait with berries, pepitas, and granola
- Burrito bowls with meat
- Trail mix with Cheerios
- Nuts and raisins
- Orange chocolate date balls
How Much Iron Does Baby Need?
According to medical experts, the daily recommended value of iron needed by infants between the ages of 6 to 12 months is 11 milligrams. Toddlers between the ages of 1 to 3 years need about 7 milligrams of iron daily. Kids between the ages of 4 to 8 years need 10 milligrams of iron daily, while older kids between 9 to 13 years require 8 milligrams.
As you would notice, babies need a high amount of iron in their early stages. They need as much iron as teenagers because of the level of development they undergo during that phase.
However, you should not panic and worry about feeding your baby meals that can give them 11 milligrams of iron in a day. Take it slow, and offer iron rich foods to your baby until they get used to it. Once your baby gets used to eating these food, they will have no problems meeting their daily recommended value.
What Happens If a Baby Gets Too Much Iron?
It is harmful for a baby to get too much iron as it can cause heart disease and neurological disorders. Signs that your baby may have too much iron in their system include vomiting, dark-colored stooling, constipation, and diarrhea. It can lead to death and thus should be avoided in every way possible.
Should I Worry About Baby Getting Too Much Iron?
Babies that have the highest threat of too much iron in their system are those that are fed with iron-fortified formula. If your baby is on iron-fortified formula, you should not administer any iron medication or supplements unless under a medical order.
Also, keep all multivitamins containing iron out of reach for your children. Although they are often created in catchy colours and often coated with sweeteners, these multivitamins are not to be taken without a prescription because they can increase the iron content in the body.