Is your baby ready for more than breast milk? Then, it’s time to introduce iron rich food in your baby’s diet to fuel growth and development. What are iron rich food for babies?
Iron is a mineral that babies and children need. Iron helps for the development of both body and brain. Babies with insufficient iron may feel tired or trouble with movement. Iron deficiency results in anemia.
This article discusses the importance of iron to your baby. It presents the list of iron rich food including the homemade iron rich baby food.
Why Is Iron Important For Babies?
Iron makes hemoglobin, which takes oxygen through the blood through the cells. Hemoglobin gives color to red blood cells. Insufficient iron makes red blood cells become small, and pale, a condition called anemia. Babies need iron for the development of their brains.
Babies with iron deficiency are physically inactive and they may develop these signs:
- Low weight gain
- Pale skin
- Low appetite
- More prone to infections
Which Babies are at the Risk of Iron Deficiency?
Premature babies are more likely to have iron deficiency, since most of the iron is supplied to the baby during last trimester.
- Babies who are fed cow’s milk instead of breast milk during their first year.
- Babies born with weight less than 3000 grams may have less iron stores.
- Babies born to the mothers, who have anemia during pregnancy are more prone to iron deficiency.
Babies come with the enough reserves of iron, which they get when they are in mother’s womb. For the first 6 months babies get enough iron from the breast milk. Once the babies start eating solid food, iron requirement depends on their age.
For the babies above six months iron needs are as follows:
- 6 to 12 months- 11mg of iron per day
- 1 to 3 years- 7 mg of iron
- 4 to 8 years- 10 mg of iron
- 9 to 13 years- 8 mg of iron
Ways to Increase Iron In Your Baby’s Diet:
Breastfed babies probably have enough source of iron. Iron depletion starts from the age above 6 months Here are the few ways to increase iron in your baby’s diet.
1. Include Vitamin C Source Food:
Vitamin C makes the iron absorption easier. It captures the non heme iron and converts it into the form that can be easily absorbed by the body.
Foods rich in vitamin C include- lemon, orange, kiwifruit, Guava, grape fruit, cauliflower, papaya, strawberries, etc.
2. Limit Diary with Iron Meals:
The calcium in cow’s milk is known to inhibit the iron absorption. So, do not combine it with the iron rich foods. Instead, feed your baby cheese, yogurt as mid morning or evening snacks.
3. Introduce Variety of Iron rich Foods:
Babies can not get all the iron from cereals. A variety of iron rich foods are required to meet their body’s iron needs. Make sure to include iron rich foods in such a way that summing of all the iron source foods for the day should not exceed their daily iron requirement.
Best Iron Rich Foods For Babies:
Before discussing the iron rich foods, you should know two types of iron source: Meat and Plant sources like legumes, vegetables, and cereals.
Meatless Iron Rich Food For Babies:
These are the rich source of iron for vegetarian babies. Include all varieties of beans in your baby’s diet to meet the daily requirements. Soak them overnight and cook it to get maximum iron from it.
¾ cup of oatmeal is known to have about 4.5 to 6.6 mg of iron. It is also rich source of fiber and helps for the children with constipation. To make it more appetizing for your baby, sprinkle some cinnamon and brown sugar on the top of the oatmeal.
3. Peanut Butter:
Peanut butter is a good source of iron, and fiber. Serve peanut butter along with whole wheat bread, which is the best iron rich recipe for 1 year baby.
4. Prune and Cranberry Juice
These juices are rich in iron content. These juices well known to treat urinary tract infections and constipation. Make sure not give them more than one glass per day.
5. Sweet Potato and White Bean Recipe:
Sweet potatoes are highly nutritious and rich source of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
White beans are great source for potassium, magnesium, and iron.
Puree made out from the baked sweet potato, freshly cooked white beans, and roasted red pepper is the best choice for iron rich food for the babies.
6. Red and Brown Rice:
Both red and brown rice contains iron, magnesium, B vitamins and fibers. But the quantities of these vary depending on the type of rice.
Best source of home made iron rich food for babies. Rice cooked items may not delight your baby if simply cooked. Try to cook with vegetables, egg or meat depending on the food habits of your baby.
It is an excellent source of amino acids, iron, calcium, and other micro nutrients. It is a good meat substitute for vegetarian babies.
Cut tofu into small strips and slightly fry them on low flame before serving it to the baby.
Tomatoes are the rich source of lycopene, which is an antioxidant. They contain vitamin C, potassiun, folate and vitamin K.
You can serve tomatoes cut into nice little cubes to your baby. If your baby refuses to eat, try drying them in the sunlight or inside the oven. You can make tomato sauce and soup out of it. Spaghetti served with tomato soup or sauce may delight your baby.
9. Spinach Pesto:
Spinach is a rich source of vitamins like – Vitamin A, C, K1, Folic acid and minerals like Iron, calcium. Eating spinach will help in improving eye sight, reduce blood pressure and prevent cancer.
How To Prepare Spinach Pesto:
1. Gather the ingredients – spinach, olive oil, lemon, sun flower seeds, and parmesan and blend them.
2. Use this along with pasta, pizza or peas.
10. Organic Dark Chocolate:
Organic dark chocolates are nutritious and rich source of fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese. They are also packed with powerful sources of antioxidants.
It is tough task to keep the children away from the chocolates as they grow up. One way to satisfy their desire is to find out the organic dark chocolate. They are loaded with iron and less amount of sugar.
11. Raisins and Dry fruits:
Raisins are rich source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Raisins keep your bones strong by rising iron levels.
Raisins should be fed to the babies when they are able to chew and capable of sitting on their own. Raisins can be given in combination with juices, purees, or mashed forms till they become comfortable with solid food.
12. Pumpkin Seeds:
Pumpkin seeds are known to contain about 6mg of iron per half cup.
While feeding it to the baby keep in mind its choking hazards. Mash or cut them into small pieces before feeding to your baby.
Note:18 months is the best age to start this food at which their teeth is strong enough to chew solid foods.
13. Fortified Cereals:
Fortified cereals are rich source of Vitamins A, C, D, E, Zinc, Iron, Calcium, and folic acid.
Fortified cereals are instant, unprocessed packaged cereals available readily in the super markets. Try giving your baby few times a week the iron-fortified cereals as breakfast.
Non Vegetarian Iron Rich Foods For Babies:
Non vegetarian food like meats and sea food contain both heme and non heme iron. Usually, non heme iron takes much time for absorption that heme iron. This scenario is same for both toddlers and adults.
In order to make the iron absorption better include the food containing vitamin C alongside the iron rich food.
Here are the few non vegetarian foods that are rich in iron
1. Lean Meat:
Lean meat contain low fat content. Skinless chicken, turkey and red meat, with the fat trimmed off are regarded as the lean meat.
Chicken or turkey is best recommended first meat to be introduced to the baby. Puree the well cooked meat, so that your baby can swallow them easily. Make sure to consult your pediatrician before introducing the meat in your baby’s diet.
Note: Cook the meat recipes well in order to reduce the risk of food poisoning.
2. Mutton Liver Fry:
Mutton liver is rich in Iron, Vitamin B, and Vitamin A.
The liver fry recipe made with mutton/lamb liver as the main ingredient helps developing baby’s eyes, bones and immune system. While introducing for the first time, start with a small bite and then keep increasing from single piece to 2 pieces. It is better to include in your baby’s diet only after one year by consulting your pediatrician.
3. Egg Yolks:
Egg yolks are the good source of iron to be introduced to the baby. Incorporate the egg yolks with other recipes to delight your baby.
You can pop out the yolk from the boiled egg. Mash the yolk and mix with the the breast milk, formula milk, yogurt or other food which you feel appropriate for your baby.
These are the best iron rich food for babies and growing children. Feed your baby with iron rich foods for the well being and brain development and prevent them from the risk of being effected by iron deficiency.