For Baby

Getting enough iron in your baby’s diet

Feeding and Iron

Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby. Breast milk or infant formula is all your baby needs for around the first 6 months. Introduce solids at around 6 months (but not before 4 months) when baby is showing developmental signs of being ready for food.

Your baby is born with a natural supply of iron, but this starts to run low at around 6 months of age. From this age babies need additional foods containing iron. Iron is essential for normal growth and development and a balanced diet is important for good health. Offering your growing baby a variety of foods will encourage them to eat well and get plenty of nutrients.

A few tips to maximise iron intake:

Iron-enriched dry baby cereals: Farex iron-enriched infant cereals are a good source of iron.

Meat is full of iron: Meat, chicken and even fish are all good sources of iron. The more red-coloured the meat is, generally the higher the iron content, so beef and lamb are up there with the best sources of iron. You can offer cooked puréed meat to your little one once they start solids. For older babies finely chopped soft slices of meat are good as finger food.

Plant foods contain iron: Although it’s not as well absorbed as iron from meat, chicken and fish. Cooked pureed legumes and lentils are first foods containing iron. From around 7-8 months introduce cooked green veges like mashed broccoli and finely chopped spinach and silverbeet.

High Vitamin C foods: You can help your baby absorb iron from 'non-meat' foods by including Vitamin C rich fruit and vegetables at meal times. Lots of fruit and vegetables contain Vitamin C including capsicums, broccoli, tomatoes, mandarins, oranges and kiwifruit. An idea for lunchtime is offer some mashed kiwifruit after baby's meal for some high Vitamin C food.

Milk: Breastfeed or use formula until your baby is at least 12 months old. The iron in breast milk is well absorbed and formula is made with added iron and Vitamin C. Note that cow’s milk isn’t suitable as a drink for babies younger than 12 months. Cow's milk is low in iron and Vitamin C. As a part of solids, small amounts of cow's milk can be given from around 7 months.

If you would like further information to make sure your baby is getting enough iron in their diet please contact our Careline team to speak to one of our dietitians on 0800 222 936.

Please see link here to the Wattie’s Guide to Baby Feeding printable with helpful feeding tips, texture and examples for each age stage.

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Have your say...

Joselayne's Comment

What if you are vegetarian?

Reply from The ForBaby team

Hi Joselayne,

Thank you for your query.

While it’s more difficult to get the balance of essential nutrients and energy in a vegetarian diet, it’s not impossible with careful planning. You can still give baby all the nutrients they need, just be aware that some vegetarian diets can be low in iron, vitamin B12, protein, calcium and also zinc. So this is something you need to be very careful with because your baby needs these nutrients. A Lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, which includes dairy, eggs, as well as plant based foods is generally a better choice for baby than a purely plant based diet (vegan diet). Vegan diets are not recommended for babies as they lack essential nutrients in the correct balance, and can be too high in fibre.

It’s a good idea to consult your GP or well child or Plunket nurse to make sure you have all the right information. Here is a useful guide to feeding your baby a vegetarian diet (which can be used in conjunction with our Wattie’s Guide to Baby Feeding). If you like to discuss further please do not hesitate to call our Careline on 0800 55 66 66.

Hope this helps!
The ForBaby team

Thea Angelie's Comment

Hi, I have just been feeding may baby ready to eat stuff from Watties, Only organic and Heinz. Having read this, Im' worried that baby isn't getting enough iron as she's not having iron fortified cereals at all. At 7 months she consumes roughly 2-4 pouches of level 2 a day. It's usually the veggie ones with beef on them but would these pouches have iron? She's still also on formula and consumes 3-4 bottles a day.

Reply from The ForBaby team

Hi Thea,

Thanks for your query. At seven months your daughter will be getting the majority of her nutrition from the formula she is taking 3-4 times day. Continue to offer formula before solids as this will ensure she gets the nutrition she needs which includes iron, while you’re introducing new foods into her diet. Any baby food containing meat, chicken or fish contains some easily absorbed iron which will also be contributing to her intake. Based on her intake as described above, it sounds like she is doing well, but if you would like to discuss in more detail please feel free to call our Careline and speak with one of our Dietitians.

The ForBaby team.

Karen's Comment

Can I give my almost 8 month old mandarins, if yes how do I prepare them?

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