Iron is an essential nutrient for making hemoglobin, a key component of red blood cells that helps transport oxygen throughout the body. If our bodies would not receive enough iron, red blood cells would not be adequately produced and our tissues and organs would not receive sufficient oxygen – which is necessary for growth and development. When children lack iron, they may display cognitive and behavioral developmental deficits or delays, may be less physically active, display a shorter attention span and develop problems concentrating.
Once children are ready to begin a diet consisting of solids, their first foods should be iron fortified given their period of rapid growth.
Here is a list of iron-rich foods for children on solids:
- Meats: Beef, lamb, pork, veal, liver, chicken, turkey
- Fish: Babies under 1 should not eat shellfish
- Eggs: If your child is under 1 year old, don’t feed him or her egg whites
- Grains and cereals: Iron-fortified cereals, whole grain breads, enriched bread, pasta and rice
- Legumes: Chick peas, lentils, dried peas and beans
- Vegetables: Spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts, green peas and beans
- Growth formulas: Such as Nestlé ® Excella Gold
To help your child’s body absorb even more iron, combine these foods with a good source of vitamin C. Plus, minimize the amount of dairy products you offer your little one at the same time you are feeding your child iron-rich foods as it can prevent rapid iron absorption.
It’s important to note that exclusive breastfeeding is recommended during the first 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond. When choosing a growth formula that contains some of the key ingredients we just mentioned, such as Nestlé ® Excella Gold ®, make sure to talk to your pediatrician to know which may suit your child best.