Iron is a mineral that plays a critical role in ensuring that oxygen gets from our lungs to the rest of our bodies. Without iron, children’s tissues and organs won’t get the amount of oxygen they need to function and / or grow.
Breastfed babies usually get enough iron from their mother’s milk until around four to six months of age, at which point we recommend introducing pureed meats, pureed leafy greens, and iron-fortified cereals to their diet.
Once a formula-fed toddler is weaned from formula, it is important to watch that they are consuming enough iron-rich foods.
Foods rich in iron include:
Beef, pork, poultry, and seafood;
Beans and peas (ex. hummus or veggie chili);
Dried fruits (ex. raisins);
Leafy dark green vegetables (ex. spinach); and
Iron-fortified breakfast cereals, breads, and pastas.
Vitamin C improves the way the body absorbs iron, so serve Vitamin C-rich foods (such as tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, oranges, and strawberries) alongside foods containing iron.
Important to Note:
Calcium can interfere with iron-absorption, and milk can make a child feel full, diminishing their appetite for iron-rich foods, so limit milk to 16 (or a maximum of 24 oz) a day.
Speak to your pediatrician before giving your child an iron supplement. Additionally, iron supplements, when consumed in excess, are EXTREMELY dangerous. It is extremely important that they are NEVER left within a child’s reach.