Motherhood

How I Increased My Son’s Iron Intake Naturally – Without Supplements

Iron is an essential element for the human body. Iron helps to preserve and promote energy, focus, digestion and the immune system. In babies, iron is also essential to brain development. The recommended daily iron intake for babies and children is as follows:

Infants:

  • 0 to 6 months: 0.27 milligrams (mg)
  • 7 to 12 months: 11 mg

Children:

  • 1 to 3 years: 7 mg
  • 4 to 8 years: 10 mg

When I took Atlas to his 12 month wellness checkup, I found out that his iron level was a little low. Breast milk contains little iron, so infants who are exclusively breastfed are at increased risk of iron deficiency after four months of age. Since iron is such an important component of nutrition, his pediatrician recommended that I give him a supplement to increase his iron consumption. 

While I have absolutely no issue with supplements, vitamins, and medicine in general, I decided to try and increase his iron intake through food before giving him a supplement. I decided to do this for two reasons. One, he tends to eat very well and typically will finish all of the food that I give him. Two, I had overlooked the need to focus on his iron intake and believed that if I started making a conscious effort to increase it, we could achieve the desired result.

His pediatrician provided me with a list of iron-rich foods and recommended that I serve the foods alongside foods high in Vitamin C, to help his body to absorb the iron. After reviewing the list, I made sure to add several of these foods to his daily meals. I also purchased some iron-enriched snacks. Lastly, I created a worksheet to keep track of his daily iron intake to ensure that I was hitting the goal of 7mg per day. It wasn’t as pretty as the one that you’ll get if you’re signed up for my mailing list, but it did the trick. I was diligent in serving the foods and tracking his intake, and at his next appointment, his iron level was up! *Queue Beyonce, 7/11*

If you would like a copy of the iron tracking worksheet, subscribe to my mailing list at the bottom of this post, and the worksheet will be sent to your email address!

Some of our favorite iron rich foods are listed here. Be sure to account for how much you actually serve your child and adjust the serving size and iron levels accordingly.

Meat:
Steak 2.4mg per 3 ounce
Beef 2.2mg per 3 ounce
Tuna 1.4mg per 3 ounce
*Chicken has 1.8mg per cup, but Atlas is allergic
Veggies:
Brussel Sprouts1.2mg per cup
Kale1mg per cup
Broccoli0.7mg per cup
Beans:
Chickpeas 12.5mg per cup
Lentils 6.6mg per cup
*Soybeans have 29.2mg per cup, but Atlas is allergic
Nut Butters:
Peanut Butter0.6mg per 2 tbsp
Almond Butter1.1mg per 2 tbsp
Cashew Butter1.7mg per 2 tbsp
Grains:
Cream of Wheat 11mg per serving
Pasta 1.4mg per serving
Wild Rice 3.1mg per serving
*Oats have 7.4mg per serving, but Atlas is allergic

Here are three iron-rich meal ideas that also include Vitamin C. Note: the iron levels listed here are according to the amount of food that Atlas eats.

Cream of Wheat with Blueberries
*Blueberries for Vitamin C

Iron = 9mg

Lentil & Quinoa Nuggets, Cucumber, Cherries, Watermelon and Carrots
*Cherries and Carrots for Vitamin C

Iron = 2mg
Tuna Steak, Cucumber and Orange Sections
*Orange for Vitamin C

Iron = 1.4mg

Preview of Iron Tracking Worksheet

Our favorite Iron enriched snacks are:

Earth’s Best Organic Sesame Street Toddler Crunchin’ Crackers

Happy Baby Organic Puffs (sweet and savory flavors)

Plum Organics Mighty Snack Bars

If you would like a copy of the iron tracking worksheet, subscribe to my mailing list and the worksheet will be sent to your email address!

Have you had any difficulties with your child’s iron intake? How were you able to increase it?

This post contains affiliate links and I receive a commission if you visit a link and make a purchase. There is no additional cost to you, and I only recommend products and services that I trust.

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