It’s common for growing children not to get enough iron in their diet.
Toddlers who have a low intake of iron may be at risk of iron deficiency anaemia.
Children need a lot of iron for growth, their energy levels, and especially brain development
Iron deficiency in children and babies
Iron levels affect our energy levels, and if we are low in iron we may feel weak. Babies with an iron deficiency may be less physically active or may develop more slowly.
Because iron affects memory and concentration, older children with iron deficiency may struggle with a shorter attention span, or school work.
Which children are at risk of iron deficiency?
➡️ Babies who are born prematurely – the transfer of iron from placenta happens right up until the end of pregnancy, so if this is cut short preemie babies may be given iron supplements from birth
➡️ Babies who drink cow’s milk or goat’s milk before age 1 – babies can have dairy from 6 months, but not a drink of milk
➡️ Children with very high calcium intake (e.g. drink more than a pint of cow’s milk, goat’s milk or soy milk a day)
➡️ Those who have a restricted food intake, e.g. very fussy with food
➡️ Babies not weaned onto foods around 6 months
➡️ Children who don’t eat enough iron-rich foods – e.g. those who refuse meat, eggs, green veg
➡️ Children who are overweight or obese – higher incidence of iron deficiency in children who are overweight or obese.
➡️ Those with digestive disorders that may not absorb iron from diet.
Iron rich foods for children
✅ The most available sources of iron is from meat, especially red meat, but you can also get a good amount of iron in fish and eggs.
✅ Vegetarians can focus on including green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, pulses and whole grains.
✅ When you’re eating plant based iron foods you can help your child absorb more iron by offering foods rich in vitamin C such as cauliflower, red pepper, tomatoes or fruits.
The vitamin C helps the iron be better absorbed.
How much iron should my child eat?
As with any nutrient when we start to delve down into the overall diet, it’s important to think about iron consumption across the whole week.
Offer iron rich foods every day, if you’re vegetarian then you’ll need to offer plant based iron rich foods at every meal.
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