Nutritional facts: Iron

One of the reasons we need to start weaning babies at 6 months is so we can increase their intake of iron. Iron reserves from birth start to decrease sharply around 6 months so it’s important to obtain the iron, necessary for growth and development and the production of healthy red blood cells, from outside sources.

Children 1-10 years need approx 10mg of iron per day.

Best sources of iron

From 4-6 months

  • Bananas
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Avocados
  • asparagus
  • Apricots
  • Peaches
  • Figs

From around 7 months

  • Lean red meat
  • Lentils
  • Ground nuts
  • Prunes
  • Well cooked egg yoke
  • Fortified breakfast cereals

Iron deficiency/anaemia

If your child isn’t getting enough iron in their diet, they could become iron deficient or anemic.

Anaemia can occur when there isn’t enough iron to make healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells are needed to carry oxygen around the body. Iron is needed to produce hemoglobin which is what makes the blood cells red. If there isn’t enough iron to make sufficient amounts of hemoglobin, the red blood cells become weak and pale and less capable of carrying oxygen to all the vital organs in the body, which in turn can give us the symptoms of anaemia. It can also effect us mentally as iron is also important for brain function.

Symptoms of Iron deficiency/anaemia

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased susceptibility to infections
  • Intolerance of cold temperatures
  • Constipation
  • Brittle, flat, thin fingernails

If your child is showing any signs of anaemia, speak to your GP and they may suggest a dietary solution or prescribe iron supplements.

Many formula milk manufacturers will use the need for iron (which formula milk is fortified with) to sell their products, such as toddler “growing up milk” but to be honest, as long as your child has a varied diet with plenty of the above foods, from 12 months they shouldn’t need follow-on milk.

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