Newborn babies have a fixed reserve of iron, which lasts for about six months. Once the iron levels in the body get depleted, it becomes absolutely necessary to include iron-rich foods in their diet.
Why is Iron-rich Foods Important for Babies?
Iron is very important for the production of hemoglobin and red blood cells, which are responsible for oxygen transport to all the tissues of the body. If there is deficiency of iron in the body, it will lead to anemia, making the baby lethargic, pale and weak. Iron deficiency anemia is commonly observed in babies belonging to the age group of 9-24 months. It may even lead to a delay in talking, walking, and development of behavioral skills.
The amount of iron required by babies and toddlers has been given below.
|Age||Amount of Iron|
|0 to 3 months||1.7 mg|
|4 to 6 months||4.3 mg|
|7 to 12 months||7.8 mg|
|1 to 3 years||6.9 mg|
Babies get the required dose of iron through breast milk for the first 6 months. Then, they need to be given infant formulas to fulfill their iron requirements. These baby formulas are enriched with iron, and also contain vitamin C, that helps in the absorption of iron.
In addition, you can include baby cereals and mashed vegetables as the first foods for your baby. When your baby starts eating these soft foods comfortably, you can gradually introduce meat or fish to the mashed vegetables and rice cereal. The meat should be cooked to a very soft consistency, and should not contain any bones. You can try including minced meat, as it will be easier for the baby to digest. Broccoli, watercress, sprouts, and cabbage may also be included. A baby can also be given dried apricots, figs, and raisins. Do not give your baby cow's milk till he/she is 1-year old. Cow's milk contains very little iron, and also hampers the absorption of iron from other foods.
Iron-rich Foods for Toddlers
The following is a list of iron-rich foods for toddlers, and should be eaten consumed at least once in a day.
- Beans and lentils
- Blackstrap molasses
- Dried fruits such as raisins, prunes, dates, and apricots
- Swiss chard
- Brussels sprout
- Egg yolk
- Flax seeds
- Fruits like red bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries
- Fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout, and kippers
- Meat like chicken, pork, turkey, and beef
- Wheat germ