Getting enough iron in the weaning diet

Having enough iron in the weaning diet is important to help your baby grow and develop, and to prevent iron deficiency anaemia. Iron also will support brain development. From about 6 months of age, your baby’s iron stores, accumulated from you when you were pregnant, are depleted, so dietary sources of iron become very important.

What foods are rich in iron?


There are two types of iron in food: haem iron and non-haem iron. Haem iron is more easily absorbed by the body and non-haem iron is less easily absorbed by the body.


Suitable Sources of Iron in the Diet


Sources of haem iron

Sources of non-haem iron*

  • Red meat e.g.
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Poultry
  • Eggs (well-cooked)
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Green leafy vegetables e.g. spinach, broccoli

* Top Tip

Eating foods rich in vitamin C at the same time as foods which contain non-haem iron improves iron absorption from these foods. Good sources of vitamin C include fresh fruits, e.g. oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, blueberries, blackberries, kiwis, and fresh vegetables.


Note: Cured meats such as ham and bacon should not be given to babies. These meats are high in salt and contain additives which are unsuitable for babies. Also, liver should not be given to a baby because it contains too much vitamin A.


What foods reduce iron absorption?


Phytates reduce iron absorption and are found in fibre-containing foods such as bran, wholegrains, tofu and beans. Small amounts of wholegrain foods and beans should be included in a baby’s diet. However, bran should never be given to babies. Bran is a very high-fibre food – it can impair the absorption of vital nutrients such as iron and calcium, and decrease a baby’s appetite for meals.

Tannins in tea (even decaffeinated tea) and coffee also reduce iron absorption and should never be given to babies.

Find out more about foods to avoid in the weaning diet here.

Try out some of these iron rich weaning recipes


Mince with Swede and Tomato purée

Chickpea and coriander stew

Homemade Hummus

Cheesy chicken and broccoli pasta


First 1000 Days Team

Our expert team of dietitians and nutritionists have created lots of articles, tips, advice and recipes all about the importance of good nutrition to help you give your baby the healthiest possible start in life.

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