iron rich foods?

Tanya - posted on 02/19/2010 ( 5 moms have responded )




I just started my son on solids a week ago. He will be 6 months in a week, but since I had school vacation, I figured I would take advantage.

He had his 6 month checkup this week also, and the doctor said I need to give him cereal to make sure he's getting enough iron. I would prefer to give him foods naturally rich in iron instead of cereal.

What I'm looking for is suggestions on good iron rich foods to puree for my baby, especially ones he can start on right away (6 months old).



Rebecca - posted on 02/19/2010




Hi Tanya,

Crystal is incorrect...your baby's first food does not need to be some sort of grain or cereal. Sweet potatoes and avocadoes are frequently recommended as first foods for breastfed babies. And if you do choose to introuduce a grain, oat is the most easily digested.

Regardless, there is absolutely no reason to feed your son on iron-fortified commercial baby cereal. Your instincts were correct -- iron from natural sources is better absorbed than iron added to cereal. Your doctor gave you some bad advice, and you were right to look for better information. From the LLL website: "Commercial, iron-fortified cereals are often the first foods served to babies who are not breastfeeding because they need the extra iron, but breastfed babies are rarely anemic as the iron in human milk is well-utilized. If there is concern about the baby's iron levels, a simple test can be done in the doctor's office."

Here is a list of iron-rich foods from


Foods that are high in iron include:

* breastmilk

* winter squash

* sweet potatoes

* prune juice

* meat & poultry (beef, beef & chicken liver, turkey, chicken)

* mushrooms

* sea vegetables (arame, dulse), algaes (spirulina), kelp

* greens (spinach, chard, dandelion, beet, nettle, parsley, watercress)

* yellow dock root

* grains (millet, brown rice, amaranth, quinoa, breads with these grains)

* blackstrap molasses (try adding a little to cereal or rice)

* brewer's yeast

High-iron foods to save until the end of the first year or later:

* dried beans (lima, lentils, kidney)

* chili con carne with beans

* tofu

* egg yolks

* grains (cooked cracked wheat, cornmeal, grits, farina, bran, breads with these grains)

* tomato

* dried fruit (figs, apricots, prunes, raisins)

* meat (pork)

* shellfish (clams, oysters, shrimp)

* tuna, sardines


Please check out specifically this section:

To give your baby the most benefit, you should prepare these foods yourself. The iron content in commercial baby foods is decreased through the repeated heatings and from sitting on the shelf for who-knows-how-long.

My son was exclusively breastfed for 6 months and then began eating solids, mostly prepared by me. He has never had even a bite of commercial baby cereal. I ground brown rice and steel cut oats in my food processor to make homemade baby cereal. He had a hemoglobin check this week at his 1 year physical, and it was perfect. His first food was sweet potatoes, which are a great iron source. Many of his favorite foods are high in iron: winter squash (butternut & acorn), brown rice, spinach, quinoa, dried beans, egg yolks, broccoli, chicken. I bought organic prune puree because I didn't want to expose him to the sulfites (drying agents) used in regular prunes; organic prunes are free of sulfites.

Hope this helps!

April - posted on 02/20/2010




good mom instincts! cereal (specifically rice) is basically empty calories. there is very little in the way of nutrition.

if your baby can
a) sit up unsupported
b) use the pincher grasp to pick food up himself
c) is interested in food when you're eating

then he's ready for solids. and it doesn't HAVE to be purees. you can give him fist-sized pieces of whatever you're having (this is called baby led weaning).

you could even wait until he is 8 months or even 12 months to give him any kind of solids. food for fun until they're one!! just watch his cues and see if he is doing the 3 things I mentioned before doing BLW or even purees.


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Tanya - posted on 02/20/2010




Thanks so much! That info is super helpful, especially that info from Kellymom. That with will really help me make some healthier food for my baby. Thanks, ladies!

Crystal - posted on 02/19/2010




you can buy iron enriched cereals, which is most likely what your doctor meant ... you need to give your baby time to adjust to cereal before you introduce other foods, and ther are several types of cereal, like rice, barley, oatmeal, oatmeal and mixed fruits .. .e t.c .... and each of these are iron enriched .... remember one type at a time for at least 3 days to make sure they have no reaction. Rice can constipate babies, and barley tends to be more gentle on their tummies ... good luck ... and dont fret ... if your babies not ready. wait it out and try again ina few weeks!

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