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BLW // Iron Rich Food

One of the main reasons why it’s important to start weaning at six months is because babies’ stores of iron begin to run out. They will get a lot of their daily iron requirements from their breast milk/formula but it is important to ensure we are also offering iron rich foods.





This can be a concern for many parents who choose to baby led wean because more often that not, a lot of the food we offer doesn’t end up being consumed: it’s dropped on the floor or flung at the walls.

This post highlights the types of food which are high in iron and describes some ways of offering these types of food, including links to a few recipes. I’ve purposefully left beef off the list here for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the iron content depends on what type of beef you are using (minced, shoulder, loin etc) and secondly, duh, everyone knows beef has high iron content. I wanted to write about something different here.

I have measured the iron content of each food at mg per 100g to keep it equal. Obviously with the majority of these foods you are not going to be offering a 100g portion so just work it out as a percentage if you decide you want to count how much iron baby is getting in a day/week.

Liver

Not the type of food that you eat everyday, however it is cheap to buy and FULL of iron. It tastes a bit like beef but is much softer and easily chewed. For me, the easiest way to serve it, is to chop it up finely and place in an omelette. Alternatively, you could add it to stir fries, pasta dishes, curries or serve traditionally with onions. You could also try paté, which is made predominately from liver, and spread it on crackers or toast. Of course, pate is very fatty so I wouldn’t recommend eating it everyday.

Iron content: 17.9mg per 100g

Cheerios (or own brand equivalent) 

I avoided cereals for the longest time as I was concerned about salt and sugar content, but I have started to relax a lot since he has hit nine months. I found an own brand version of Cheerios in my local supermarket which has only 0.17g of salt per 30g portion (and I don’t offer Dex a full portion anyway). What’s more there’s lot of other added nutrients such as Vitamin B12, B6, B1, folic acid and Niacin. Cheerios are a great way to get baby to practise using his pincer grip. They are small enough not be a choking hazard and in any case, become nice and soggy as soon as they are mixed with baby’s drool. I offer them dry, but you can also soak them in milk for a few minutes before serving.

Iron content: 12mg per 100g

Tahini

Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds which is really iron rich. We spread it on Ryvita crackerbreads as a snack, or spread it on toast in the mornings. You could also smear it on apples or pears. Tahini is also used when making hummus, so instead of buying the paste, you could try some store bought hummus. They do a wide range of different flavours now: lemon, piri piri, sweet chilli, red pepper; offering baby the chance to experience some new tastes.

Iron content: 9mg per 100g

Chickpeas

Chickpeas are the other key ingredient when making hummus. I like to spread it on bread, crackers or use it as dip alongside some yummy, crunchy veg sticks. You can also throw chickpeas into a curry to bulk it out or use it in a Moroccan tagine alongside some lamb and dried apricots. (Incidentally, dried apricots are also a good source of iron, containing 2.7mg per 100g)

Iron content: 6.2mg per 100g

Green Leafy Vegetables

Green leafy vegetables include spinach, kale, watercress, Swiss chard and pak choi. I love how versatile spinach is and the fact that when you cook it, it reduces to hardly anything, meaning you can jam pack it into loads of stuff. I throw it into pastas, curries and use it in omelettes as standard. Kale is another one of those superfoods which can be finely chopped and put in a range of meals. I usually find it to be cheaper than spinach as well.

Iron content: 2.7mg per 100g

Chicken

Poultry is a good source of iron, especially the dark meat. I like to purchase chicken thighs and drums and throw them in the slow cooker. It creates delicious, moist meat which falls off the bone. (Or you could buy de-boned thighs). Chicken is so versatile and can be added to practically any dish to give an iron boost.

Iron Content: 1.3mg per 100g

Eggs

Eggs are a good source of iron and there’s so many ways of serving them. I offer scrambled eggs, hard boiled eggs and I make omelettes and eggs muffins too, meaning I can jam pack more leafy green iron rich veg in there too. Eggs are my ultimate food. They’re filling, versatile and delicious, no matter how they’re cooked.

Iron content: 1.2mg per 100g

Eating some of these foods alongside some high Vitamin C food will increase the amount of iron absorbed into baby’s system. Avoid drinking tea which contains tannins and can limit iron absoprtion. (Realistically though, what baby is having a cup of tea with his meal?!)

Foods high in Vitamin C include:

oranges

broccoli

mango

kiwi

brussel sprouts

strawberries

pineapple

 




I hope this has helped you to think about incorporating more iron into your baby’s diet. Any high iron foods that I’ve missed?

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14 Comments

  • Reply kris

    What a really informative post.Lots of foods I didnt realise had iron in them.
    kris recently posted…My son lashes out- What does that say about me as a parent?My Profile

    16th March 2017 at 6:56 am
  • Reply Devon Mama

    I always think of leafy greens as being super high in iron so it was surprising to see things like cheerios and tahini higher than them! We give dried cereal as a snack but I’d assumed cheerios were sugary, will be picking them up now I know differently! Loads of info, thanks! x

    Ps. Chicken for the win! It’s 6/7ths of our weekly meals!!
    Devon Mama recently posted…Review: The Flavour-Led Weaning CookbookMy Profile

    16th March 2017 at 11:23 pm
  • Reply Rachel George, Ordinary Hopes

    Eggs are big favourites here to! The perfect food for our family, yet I admit to not knowing that they are a great source of iron, so thanks for sharing.

    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday
    Rachel George, Ordinary Hopes recently posted…The alternative “Dear Zoo”My Profile

    18th March 2017 at 10:24 pm
  • Reply Lydia C. Lee

    Those chick peas look delish. I can’t believe cheerios are actual high in iron. I thought they just said that…#KCACOLS

    18th March 2017 at 10:24 pm
  • Reply kristin mccarthy

    Awesome info here. Thank goodness for Cheerios.
    #KCACOLS

    19th March 2017 at 3:25 am
  • Reply Madeline (this Glorious Life)

    Really interesting, useful post. And not just in relation to weaning, I sometimes think I could do with more iron in my own diet and I found this really interesting as there were foods here that I hadn’t really realised were iron-rich! x #KCACOLS
    Madeline (this Glorious Life) recently posted…3 ways school French lessons prepare you for parenthoodMy Profile

    19th March 2017 at 8:16 am
  • Reply Devon Mama

    I swear I read it again! #kcacols
    Devon Mama recently posted…Mother’s Day: My Top Mum MomentsMy Profile

    19th March 2017 at 3:26 pm
  • Reply Vaila, Inclusive Home

    Great tips! My 3 year old going through a choosy stage but he loves humous so that’s great news! I’ve also recently found a spinach and cheese savoury muffin recipe that he’ll eat (“cheesy cakes”) which is a bit of a win! #KCACOLS

    19th March 2017 at 5:38 pm
  • Reply Kelly | and Jacob makes three

    Thanks for this! I need to introduce more iron-rich foods. I hadn’t thought of liver or tahini. #KCACOLS

    20th March 2017 at 1:10 pm
  • Reply Anna (Toys Preschool)

    Ah I remember the search for iron rich food from pregnancy and the formula brand advert scaring parents into thinking if they didn’t buy their formula their children had no hope of getting enough iron. I like all of these ideas, and totally agree on the cheerios! Also those mini weetabix are high in iron as well as prunes. #KCACOLS

    21st March 2017 at 12:22 pm
  • Reply Jenn @ Mad Mommy

    wonderful suggestions, I often overlook iron when thinking about a well rounded diet. That also reminds me to add Cheerios to my shopping list! #KCACOLS

    27th March 2017 at 6:53 pm
  • Reply Ali Duke

    Great post. I had no idea about the hummous being good for iron.
    #KCACOLS

    29th March 2017 at 2:08 pm
  • Reply Cassie

    Really interesting post. Lots of foods I had no idea were a good source of iron.

    #KCACOLS

    31st March 2017 at 3:58 pm
  • Reply Mummy to Dex - BLW Snack Ideas - A List of our Favourite Baby Led Weaning Snacks

    […] to pick up and even easier for baby to chew/gum. I like to spread tahini on them to give an added iron boost, but hummus, peanut butter or avocado works pretty well […]

    19th April 2017 at 9:15 pm
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