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:
- 0 to 6 months: 0.27 milligrams (mg)
- 7 to 12 months: 11 mg
- 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.
|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|
|Brussel Sprouts||1.2mg per cup|
|Kale||1mg per cup|
|Broccoli||0.7mg per cup|
|Chickpeas||12.5mg per cup|
|Lentils||6.6mg per cup|
|*Soybeans have 29.2mg per cup, but Atlas is allergic|
|Peanut Butter||0.6mg per 2 tbsp|
|Almond Butter||1.1mg per 2 tbsp|
|Cashew Butter||1.7mg per 2 tbsp|
|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.
Our favorite Iron enriched snacks are:
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?
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