This blog post was written in my role as dietitan for the baby food brand For Aisha. I hope you find it helpful.
Iron is a key nutrient for your little one’s development, and is the most common nutritional deficiency seen in babies.
If you haven’t yet had your baby you can start preparing your littles ones’ iron reserves right now! Focus on eating iron rich foods daily, and if you are told you are low in iron try increasing these foods and using a supplement. Your iron levels will determine your baby’s iron levels.
During the last trimester of pregnancy the body prepares the way, by laying down stores of key nutrients including iron. This means your baby is already born with a store of iron- however, by 6 months this is all used up and they are ready to start eating food. Therefore, you can then start to meet their iron needs by feeding them iron rich foods.
From 6 months to 2 years there is a period of rapid growth and development which means babies have increased needs for certain nutrients- a key one being iron. If your little one is lacking iron they may have pale skin, be breathless or lack energy, and they may also show no symptoms at all.
A lack of iron can affect development; including their movement and balance, and also brain development. Therefore, you can see how important it is to be providing iron rich foods daily. A blood test will show if Iron levels are low, but if you include plenty of iron rich food in your baby and toddlers diet then you shouldn’t need to worry!
Introduce iron rich foods early on in weaning to ensure there is always iron available for your little ones body to absorb. One great source of iron is red meat- including lamb, beef and also egg yolks. White meat, fish and shellfish also contain iron.
Iron can also be found in certain plant foods; Lentils, beans and soya provide iron, making dhal and hummus good options. Serving green leafy vegetables on the side and including dried raisin and apricots as snacks or in meals will also provide extra iron.
Some great iron rich meals:
- Meat curry
- Lentil and spinach dhal
- Scrambled eggs on toast
- Liver casserole
- Lamb tagine
- Roast chicken dinner
- Hummus and pitta bread
- Dried apricots
- Flapjacks with dried fruit in them
- Boiled egg
If you are worried about your littles ones iron stores then always chat to your health visitor or GP.