4. Iron rich foods and weaning

4. Iron rich foods and weaning

I am sure you have all heard that it’s important to start giving your baby iron-rich foods from 6 months of age, but do you know WHY this is the case? And HOW do you offer these foods to your baby?

Why?

Babies of a healthy birth weight (approx 2.5-4kg) and born at full term (37-42 weeks gestation) are born with enough iron stores to last approximately 6 months.

Did you know?

Mums’ iron status during pregnancy and delayed umbilical cord clamping can help build up babies iron reserves.

Why is iron so important?

Iron is an important part of haemoglobin in red blood cells, which transports oxygen around our bodies. Iron is also very important for babies’ brain development.

❓How much iron do babies need?

0-3 months = 1.7mg/day

4-6 months = 4.3mg/day

7-12 months = 7.8mg / day

1-2 years = 6.8mg/day

Breast milk only contains 0.07 mg iron per 100ml but it is in a highly bio-available form of iron. Infant formula is fortified with iron and usually contains around 1mg/100ml (but it is not as bioavailable as breast milk, meaning that it is not absorbed as well).

How?

Here are some practical ideas for offering meat and eggs (most of the iron is in the yolk) to your baby:

  • Slow cooked beef/lamb offered in strips
  • Mini meatballs
  • Roasted dark poultry meat
  • Omelette cut into strips
  • Eggy bread with strawberries
  • Salmon fish cakes
  • Pilchards or sardines (watch out for bones)
  • Liver* pate spread on toast (*but limit to once per week due to very high vitamin A content)

What if my baby is vegetarian?

Here are some practical ideas for offering vegetarian sources of iron to your baby:

  • Soya beans and tofu, baked beans, hummus, kidney beans, lentils – try mini bean burgers
  • Broccoli and other green veggies such as peas, okra, spring greens, spinach, kale
  • Nuts (ground nuts or smooth nut butters for babies) and dried fruits particularly dried apricots, figs, raisins, sultanas and prunes
  • Fortified breakfast cereals such as Weetabix and Ready Brek

TOP TIP…Add a source of vitamin C to help with iron absorption, such as strawberries, red peppers, broccoli, squeeze of lemon juice, citrus fruits, potatoes, kiwi fruit, tomatoes

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