Intake of Iron Food During Weaning

By Ashley | December 29, 2009
Iron Foods During Weaning

During the first six months, babies are breast fed and as such do not have any vitamin or iron requirements. Breast milk fulfils all the nutritional and fluid needs of the infant. The iron present in breast milk is absorbed well and babies are able to use more than 50 per cent of that iron. In comparison, babies can use only about 12 per cent of the iron present in formula. The iron reserves of the baby stay intact until six to seven months, after which iron stores may start depleting. Once the baby reaches six months of age, foods containing iron must be introduced.

If solid foods are introduced too early, the body’s iron levels may be hampered. This is mostly in the case of babies that are breast fed, since they obtain adequate iron intake from breast milk. Cow’s milk must not be fed to babies as the iron content is low and babies are also not able to absorb it well. Consumption of cow’s milk may result in gastrointestinal problems and as such must not be offered to infants below the age of one year. Commercial baby cereals are fortified with iron, but these are also highly processed and absorption of this iron contained in them may not be as easy as absorption of that in natural foods. In order to provide an iron boost through homemade cereal, you can add breast milk, wheat germ or formula to it.

Foods such as fish, poultry and red meat are good sources or iron and are also well absorbed by the body. Here are a few ways by which you can ensure that your baby is getting adequate iron intake. When offering your baby iron rich baby cereal, you can try enhancing the flavor of it by adding foods that he generally enjoys. For example, if your baby likes pears, add a teaspoon of it to the cereal. You can then slowly add it in increasing quantities. Toddlers usually like the flavor of red meat. Iron in red meat is very easily absorbed and as such you may prepare small meatballs of ground beef and serve with iron rich cereal. Serve a food that is rich in vitamin C along with iron rich foods. This will assist in iron absorption. You may serve orange juice or any other food that the baby has already been introduced to. Serving a combination of an animal iron source and a non-animal iron source is a good way of enhancing iron absorption.

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