For the first 6 months of your baby’s life, all he is eating is either breastmilk or formula. There’s no meal planning required. You can push aside your concerns about protein and iron for babies. You don’t have to worry if he’s eating sugar or salt.
Life is simple in regards to your baby’s food intake.
Until he reaches 6 months old.
Suddenly, you need to start ensuring he is getting the right nutrients from the foods he eats.
One of the most important nutrients which a baby needs is iron. In this post, I will discuss why it’s so important to provide iron for babies.
I will also answer the common question moms have – how much iron does a baby need? Finally, I will give you a list of 9 iron-rich foods that you can serve to your baby.
Let’s get right to it!
Why is iron so vital for babies?
Iron is necessary for making hemoglobin which carries oxygen throughout your body.
According to the National Institute of Health, without enough iron, your body cannot carry oxygen to your organs. This can cause your body to malfunction.
This obviously applies to your baby as well. If iron is so important for babies, why does my baby not need it for the first 6 months?
Excellent question! From the day your little munchkin is born, she has plenty of iron in her body from you, which you gave her while you were pregnant.
If you were anemic during pregnancy, now you know where all your iron went. Your little baby took it all for herself!
This iron can last her for the first 6 months of her life. As you breastfeed your baby, you are providing her with more iron, although not that much.
This is why once she turns 6 months old and her iron stores begin to run low, you need to start looking into supplements of iron for babies. It must be specifically iron for babies and not adults since babies need a lot less iron.
How much iron does a baby need?
Let’s explore numbers. It’s easier to understand how much iron is necessary for your baby when we talk in numbers.
As seen in the infographic above, from 7 months old, the amount of iron for babies drastically increases. Your little one needs 11 mg of iron a day.
How do I ensure my baby gets this much iron?
It’s usually recommended to give your baby an iron supplement but this is something you need to speak with your doctor about.
You can’t only rely on the supplement though. Since your baby is starting to eat solids by now, it’s a great time to introduce iron-rich foods.
If you choose the baby led weaning method, be sure to check out my eBook which covers common questions moms have regarding this feeding method as well as an in-depth guide!
Iron-rich foods for babies
What types of foods can I feed my baby to boost his iron intake?
Let’s explore 9 delicious foods which are high in iron to give your baby:
- Kidney beans
- Iron-fortified baby cereal
Notice that all these foods are 100% plant-based. It is not necessary to serve your baby meat in order to get enough iron. However, it is necessary for you to ensure he’s getting enough iron from the foods he eats.
So choose from these 9 foods to include in his diet!
How to incorporate these foods in your baby’s diet
When choosing the baby led weaning method, you have a lot of versatility to incorporate these foods.
Check out my full 7-day meal plan with recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for your little one to help you get started!
Tofu can be served to your baby raw since it’s soft. Haylee loves raw tofu, she can eat almost half a block in one meal!
You can also bake the tofu in strips with olive oil and light seasonings such as sweet paprika and a hint of black pepper. However, the tofu may get a bit crunchy on the outside so this is better for when your baby is closer to 10 months old when they can chew better.
Lentils can be used in fritters or you can make a lentil soup and serve it to your baby at room temperature.
Kidney beans can be easily cooked and served as is to your baby. She would need to have developed the pincer grasp since the beans can be difficult to pick up otherwise.
If your baby is not there yet with the pincer grasp, just blend it and add it to patties or veggie burgers.
Spinach and kale can be tough foods to incorporate into your baby’s diet since they’re leafy which can pose a choking hazard.
I’ve got a couple of excellent solutions for you:
Check out these smoothies which are high in nutrients for your little one!
Broccoli can be baked in the oven drizzled with olive oil. Once it’s ready, dip it in tahini which is another iron-rich baby-friendly food.
Be sure your little one doesn’t have a sesame allergy since tahini is made of sesames!
When I first served broccoli dipped in tahini to Haylee, she had a reaction the next morning and I thought she was allergic. I took her to the doctor who then scheduled me for an allergist.
In the end, it wasn’t an allergy but just a skin rash. Scared the crap out of me until I knew what it was. So just be aware of this allergen.
If your baby isn’t allergic to sesame, tahini is an awesome food to serve. You can smear it on bread, use it as a dip for broccoli and cauliflower, and many more options.
If you’re going with the traditional feeding method of purees, you can feed your little one iron-fortified baby cereal. This is made specifically to give a boost of iron for babies.
Chickpeas are another great iron-rich food that you can use in muffins, cookies, or patties. Click here for a delicious recipe for sweet potato chickpea patties.
To wrap up
Many nutrients are important but specifically iron for babies is number one! Choosing the right foods can help your baby get the recommended daily value of 11 mg.
Which of these 9 iron-rich foods are you already serving your little one? Which of these foods do you want to start incorporating into your baby’s diet?
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