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*
* 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
Cheesy chicken and broccoli pasta