Iron-rich Food For Babies And Toddlers
Iron deficiency is the most widespread mineral deficiency in the world. It is easily preventable but if left untreated, your child’s health and development are at stake. Iron and the lack of this nutrient can mean the difference between growth and retardation, strength or weakness and immunity versus disease.
Iron deficiency can also contribute to decreased intelligence, behavioral issues, delayed development, and social withdrawal of toddlers and pre-school children. This is a serious issue that must be given attention by every parent.
The good news is that babies’ and kids’ iron deficiency can easily be prevented with the right diet. Improving your baby and toddler’s iron intake through food is possible with the right meal planning and a little bit of creativity in food preparation.
Iron-rich Food for your Child’s Daily Meals
Before you go about and introduce a new food or recipe to your baby, it is important to remember to take it slowly. Introduce one food item every three or four days. Do not surprise your child’s sensitive palate by giving two distinct new foods at a time. If you want your child to accept a new food or taste, do it one by one. The following foodstuffs can help your baby to get his/her daily dose of iron:
1. Red Meat, Liver
Red meat and liver are packed with the most absorbable iron. This type of iron from blood is the most utilized by our bodies. If you are concerned with choking or whether your toddler can appreciate its taste, begin by mixing it as meatballs. Mash up that liver and include it in sauces, stews and hamburger patties.
2. Egg Yolk
Scrambled eggs during breakfast can never go wrong. Toddlers can easily adapt to the familiar taste of eggs. Include eggs, particularly egg yolks in your recipe whenever there is an opportunity. There is nothing wrong with cooking omelets daily, you can throw in it toppings such as hotdog, cheese, bacon or chopped veggies. For dessert, skip the junk and instead create yummy custard flan or custard balls dipped in caramel.
3. Brown and Red Rice
Brown and red rice might look dirty for a little kid’s discerning eyes so better to stir-fry it with bright veggies such as corn, peas, carrots, and chopped green onions. You can make porridge that can be given to the baby as soon as he/she starts to eat semi-solid foods. Season with some salt and chicken broth and you now got a baby meal staple for lunch and dinner.
4. Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
A nice tip to maximize a potato’s iron content is to cook it with its skin intact. Just a little brush up on the surface will do as potato’s skin is five times richer in iron and packed with more Vitamin C than the rest of the potato. A healthier alternative to your toddler’s favorite French fries will be baked or steamed sweet potatoes. It is naturally sweet and cheap. Just half a cup of sweet potatoes can contain around a quarter of your child’s daily iron needs.
5. Peanut Butter Sandwich and Cookies
Ground peanut is a superb source of iron. Organic and naturally-made peanut butter is a better choice for your toddler’s snack box. You can also top up your kid’s iron intake by baking peanut butter cookies. Upgrade your toddler’s daily sandwich by using iron-fortified whole bread with a generous spread of home-made peanut spread.
6. Dried Seeds
Sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds are all nutrient-dense and packed with iron. You can make your own granola bar out of these seeds and your kids will have a sweet and healthy snack at any time of the day.
7. Dried Fruits
Instead of letting your toddler munch on a pack of high-sugar chocolate cookies, let him instead snack on dried fruits and nuts. Dried raisins, dates, apricots and prunes are healthier snacks of choice. Let your hungry little explorer munch on these first before they reach out for commercial sugar-filled snacks that are cavity-inducing and empty in nutrients.
Black beans, soybeans, lentils, pinto, kidney beans and chickpeas are excellent sources plant-based iron. Mix your dried tomatoes, meat bits and a cup of these beans for a quick and sumptuous pork and beans recipe that children love.
9. Green Leafy Vegetables
Children dislike fresh crunchy greens. The bitterness and slimy quality of these greens are not up to the taste of our little ones. Veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, and collard are packed with iron and other essential nutrients. A better way to include greens in their diet is to add them chopped finely on paste sauce, omelet, soups, and stews.
Fresh tomato can be sour to a toddler’s taste, as they favor sweets during this stage. An easier way to add lots of tomatoes to your kid’s diet is to dry it first either under the sun or in the oven. Aside from preserving its shelf life, dried tomatoes are packed with iron. Use it generously for spaghetti sauce and soups.
11. Dark Organic Chocolate or Cocoa
The usual milk chocolate brands off the grocery aisle contain more sugar and additives than a regular dark chocolate. For your little one’s chocolate cravings, switch to dark organic chocolate. There will be less sugar and as a bonus, it is loaded with iron too.
12. Iron-fortified Cereal and Oatmeal
Skip those colorful sugary morning cereals and replace it with iron-fortified oatmeal. There are also other low-sugar cereals that are rich in iron. Their packaging might not look too enticing as they don’t feature the usual cereal box mascot but they are a wiser choice. Check the labels!
13. Cranberry and Prune Juice
Skip that soda and instead, let your little one drink a refreshing glass of cranberry or prune juice. Aside from a good source of iron, these fruit juices aids in relieving constipation.
If you are a vegetarian and you want your small kids to emulate you, tofu is a good meat replacement that is also packed with iron. Toddlers love finger food. You can fry tofu strips and give it to your toddler with his choice of dip.
Your small kids might not be much into seafood but shrimp, clams, and tuna are also nice sources of iron. You can use canned tuna as a spread on iron-enriched bread. Chopped seafood can also be added to an omelet. On the safe side, be wary of introducing these if seafood allergy runs in your family.
Iron deficiency is a silent thief that can slowly rob your child of the fullest growth potential that he is capable of. Don’t let iron deficiency sneak in and steal your child’s resilience and physical development. Begin enhancing your child’s intake of iron beginning at six months of age or earlier. Introducing iron to your baby or toddler’s meals is not too difficult. Be informed and plan your meals. Begin now before it’s too late.