Your baby gets plenty of iron through their milk for the first 6 months. After that it is up to you to provide an iron enriched diet to keep your baby healthy.
Iron has many important roles within the body. It helps to produce red blood cells, which in turn help to pump oxygen around the body. It is also very important for brain and nerve development.
A baby who doesn’t get enough iron will most likely be pale and lack energy. It can even cause developmental delays and behavioral problems.
Because the growth in the first few years is so rapid, it stands to reason that they will need a higher dose of iron during this time of their life than any other time.
It is extremely common for babies and toddlers to get less iron than is ideal and fussy eaters are particularly at risk. It doesn’t need to be a big deal. Any healthy and varied diet will provide enough iron easily.
There are two different types of iron, animal sources and non-animal sources. Animal sources are easier for the body to absorb. Vitamin C is a good supplement to help the body absorb the non-animal sources.
- red meat, such as beef, pork, and lamb
- poultry, particularly the darker meat
- oily fish, such as tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout and kippers
- fortified breakfast cereals and baby foods
- pulses and lentils, including baked beans for example
- most dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, watercress, sprouts and cabbage
- dried fruit such as raisins, dried apricots and dried figs.
Try to give your baby the above non-animal sources with foods rich in vitamin C, like citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, kiwi fruit, blackcurrants, strawberries and mango.
Iron and milk
Breast milk contains enough iron naturally and is easily absorbed by your baby’s body.
Formula milk contains non-animal iron, so it also contains vitamin C to help this to be absorbed.
Follow on formula has a higher dose of iron to meet your baby’s growing needs.
Cows milk does not have enough iron to meet your babies growing needs and is one of the reasons it is not recommended as a drink before your baby is over a year.
Follow-on formula has higher iron levels to meet your baby’s growing needs.
Cows’ milk does not contain enough iron for babies and is not suitable as a drink before 12 months.