Most healthy infants are born with enough iron stores to initially meet their needs. But at around six months these iron stores start to deplete and the introduction of solid foods, especially iron-rich foods, becomes important.
Iron – an essential nutrient for baby’s development
Many parents start by introducing solid foods like puréed brown rice, vegetables and fruit, such as sweet potato and apples. While these foods provide nutrition and can be part of a healthy diet, they’re not good sources of iron, which is an important nutrient for baby’s development.
Iron is an essential nutrient for an infant’s growth and motor development as well as cognitive, behavioural and nervous system development. Iron is needed to help produce red blood cells that carry oxygen from the lungs throughout the body, including the brain.
How to ensure your baby’s diet includes iron
There are a number of ways to incorporate iron into your baby’s diet, including offering meat or meat alternatives prepared appropriately based on your baby’s age and development, or by offering foods like iron-fortified infant cereals. Here are some suggestions on how you can introduce iron-rich foods:
- Purée meats like beef, lamb, pork, chicken or turkey and mix with baby’s favourite fruits to help with texture and taste;
- Introduce meat alternatives, like lentils and chickpeas, which are also great iron-rich options;
- Offer iron-fortified infant cereals;
- And to help improve iron absorption, offer foods rich in vitamin C at the same meal as iron-fortified infant cereals. Try puréeing vitamin C-rich fruits, such as strawberries and raspberries.
Health Canada recommends that babies between six and twelve months should be offered iron-rich foods two or more times a day1,2. During baby’s second year, iron-rich foods, including iron-fortified baby cereals, should be offered at each meal, at least three or more times a day2.
Nestlé Gerber baby cereals provide 100 per cent of your baby’s daily value of iron in one serving*
All Nestle Gerber baby cereals are 100 per cent wholesome and are made without added sugar†, salt, preservatives, artificial flavours or colours. Each serving of Nestlé Gerber baby cereal provides 100 per cent of the daily value of iron for babies. They’re the only infant cereals in Canada with probiotic B. lactis‡, which helps contribute to baby’s healthy digestive tract flora.
* Based on % Daily Value for iron; each 5 tbsp serving contains 7 mg of iron (100% of the Daily Value) for children less than 2 years old.
†All baby cereals for babies under 12 months do not contain added sugar.
‡1 billion B. lactis per 5 tbsp serving.
- Joint statement of Health Canada, Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada, and Breastfeeding Committee for Canada. Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants: Recommendations from Birth to Six Months. 2012. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/infant-nourisson/recom/index-eng.php
- Joint statement of Health Canada, Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada, and Breastfeeding Committee for Canada. Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants: Recommendations from Six to 24 Months. Draft. 2013. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/consult/infant-nourrisson6-24/recommendations/index-eng.php