Check the iron levels on your baby’s food

Making your tot’s food at home is a great way to save money and ensure kids are getting all of the nutrients they need (and avoid the additives they don’t need). But despite good intentions, Dr. Tommy Ho, a Torontobased pediatrician, says many parents may be missing the mark when it comes to including enough iron in homemade foods.

“While homemade food can be a great idea, many parents don’t realize they may not be incorporating enough iron in meals for their babies,” says Dr. Ho. “At about six months, baby’s iron stores start to deplete and breast milk can no longer meet all of their nutritional requirements.”

Iron is an essential nutrient in an infant’s growth and motor development, as well as cognitive, behavioural and nervous system development. Popular foods like brown rice, vegetables and fruit are healthy, but are low in iron. If you’re making your own baby food, make sure you’re offering enough iron.

To be sure your little one is getting all he or she needs for healthy growth from homemade food:

  • Aim for the recommended daily intake of iron for babies 7 – 12 months of 11 mg.
  • Feed your baby iron-rich foods like beef, chicken, egg yolks, legumes and iron-fortified baby cereals.
  • If introducing cow’s milk, delay until baby is nine to 12 months old, and limit to 2 to 3 cups per day.

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Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, May 2014.

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