You would have heard your Doctor and Pediatrician mentioning the mineral “Iron” quite often. Well, that’s because the importance of iron can never be under estimated. Iron is an important dietary mineral which is essential to maintain the hemoglobin level in our body. Hemoglobin is an important component of the Red Blood Cells (RBC) which assist in carrying oxygen to the various parts of the body. The logic is simple – lesser iron content has a direct impact on the hemoglobin level and thus leading to decreased oxygen supply in the body.
A 7 – 12 months old baby requires around 11mg of iron in it’s daily diet, and for babies of 1-3 years of age 7mg iron is required.
The easiest and most convenient way of introducing iron into your baby’s diet is Fruits. For babies of 6 months age you could mash it or give it in puree form. A whole range of fruits could be given like apple, pomegranate, grapefruit, berries, banana, strawberry, black grapes and watermelon, tomatoes.
Red meat is any day better than white meat. Cooked meat, or meat given in form of soup is best suited for babies 8 months age and above. It is a very good source of zinc, protein and iron.
Eggs is a good source of protein as well as iron. Best form is to boil the egg and then cut it into small pieces. It could also serve well as a finger food. One boiled egg contains around 1mg of iron.
The benefits of Ragi can never be undermined. It is considered as one of the best weaning foods – as it is rich in potassium, zinc, iron, calcium and dietary fibre. It is an all-mineral power food. Home-made Ragi powder is recommended rather than the ones available in the market.
Chickpeas, lentils, dried beans, beans are said to be a good source of iron.
Vegetables including spinach, broccoli, green peas, beans contain a high amount of iron, making it the nutritional powerhouse of iron.
Cereals like oats, quinoa, millets, sorghum, whole grain breads, enriched bread, pasta, rice and wheat are all good sources of iron.
Jaggery contains 11 mg of iron per 100 grams. However care should be taken than jaggery should not be introduced before 12 months of age, afterall too much of jaggery could lead to constipation, added to the fact that it could lead to sugar addiction and diabetes too. Therefore, jaggery in recommended amounts is very good. Be it in the form of a natural sweetener in dishes, or jaggery water.
3/4th cup of oats contain about 4.4 to 6.6 mg of iron. An oatmeal porridge makes for an excellent breakfast or supper option for babies. Pureed dates, mashed bananas could be added to it to make it more tasty.
To the surprise of many parents, Dark chocolate is considered to be rich in iron. The taste being slightly bitter, might not be well received by your baby. mix it with milk or add peanut butter to it and sandwich it with wholegrain bread.
One of the tastiest snack options for elders is also a healthy option to include iron in your baby’s daily diet. Apply it on the whole grain bread or add a spoonful of it in the pasta.
Most of us do not know that Fish is also a very good source of Iron, as well as protein too. Steam fish or minced fish along with plain steamed rice make for a good meal.
Nuts like cashews and pistachios are a very good source of iron. Add some crushed or powdered nuts in the porridge, or add them in the puree. You could also sprinkle some on the sandwich. Makes for an excellent meal.
Chickpeas, blackeyed beans, kidney beans and white beans are a good source of iron and protein. Giving them in mashed or pureed form is the best way to feed them.
A juicy red tomato is an attractive thing to look at. Added to its beauty is its rich iron content. Tomato soup, puree or a finger food – any of it works good for your baby.
Excellent source of iron, they taste good too. Just serve them as cubes and sprinkle some salt, lime juice and give them as finger foods. Kids will surely love them.
Iron is well absorbed in the body when it combines with Vitamin C. Therefore, eating Vitamin C rich foods like papaya, kiwi, orange fruit, lemons helps in better absorption of iron in the body.
Baked sweet potatoes make for an excellent evening snack option. Giving them in mashed form is also a great option.