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Iron rich foods for babies and growing children

Aboriginal; food; iron; breastmilk; lean; meat; fish; chicken; cereal; baked; beans; eggs; leafy; green; vegetables; legumes; calcium; milk;


Babies and children need iron for strong blood and energy

breastmilkBabies need iron rich food to learn to do new things like walking and talking.

Breastmilk will give your baby all the iron they need for around the first 6 months. Baby formula has iron in it too.

At around 6 months, your baby will need solid food as well as milk. Give your baby solid food which is rich in iron.

More information

As well as the content of this topic there is much more detailed information in this fact sheet that has been developed by the Nutrition department at the Women's and Children's Health Network (South Australia)

Meat for babies

Babies can have soft and smooth meat from around 6 months old, as well as other food.

Baby cereals and mashed vegetables are good first foods. Once your baby can eat soft, mushy food, you can add meat or fish to the mashed vegetables or rice cereal.
mashed vegetables or rice cereal

always watch baby when they eatMake sure that the meat is soft and smooth and that there are no bones in the fish. Cook minced meat so it is soft, then mash it so it is easy for your baby to swallow.

As babies get older and learns to chew, they can eat stews and casseroles with soft, well-cooked meat.

Don't add salt or soy sauce to meat for your baby.

Always watch your baby when they eat to make sure they don't choke.

Foods for iron

Best foods for iron

  • Lean minced beef.
  • Lean stewing beef.
  • Liver.
  • Fish (no bones).
  • Chicken (no skin).
  • Lean lamb.
  • Lean pork.

lean meats

Good food for iron

  • baby cereal Baby cereal with added iron.
  • Legumes (eg baked beans).
  • Eggs.
  • Green leafy vegetables.
  • Smooth peanut butter and other nut pastes (eg hazelnut paste).
    good food for iron

There is no iron in the fatty parts of meat. The iron is in the lean meat.

Foods not good for iron

  • Chicken nuggets
  • Kabanas
  • Meat pies
  • Sausage rolls
  • Custard/yoghurt

Iron stoppers

Some foods stop babies' bodies from getting enough iron. Iron stoppers include:

  • tea – don't give babies and young children tea to drink
  • fresh cow's milk and powdered milk – these kinds of milk can hurt a young baby's tummy.
    tea    cow's milk

Babies can have full cream cow's milk or powdered milk after they are 12 months old. You don't need to buy formula after your baby is 12 months. Give your baby no more than 500mls of milk each day from 12 months of age.

Iron helpers

Vegetables and fruit help babies' bodies to get the most iron from their food. Make sure your baby has some fruit and vegetables every day.
fruit and vegetables

What if my child does not eat meat or fish?

Families who are vegetarian may avoid meat, chicken, fish, eggs and milk. These foods provide important nutrients such as protein, iron, vitamin B12 and calcium.

If you don't include these foods in your diet it is very important to replace these foods with alternative foods that contain these nutrients such as tofu, legumes, lentils, peanut butter or other nuts, soy milk/yoghurt.

Child health checks

Your child health nurse or health worker can check if your baby is getting enough iron.

More information

Nutrition Department, Women's and Children's Hospital, South Australia 

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).

This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.

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