Babies are born with iron stores that last between six months to a year after birth. As you introduce solid foods and your infant's intake of iron-fortified formula or breast milk decreases, you should make sure that your baby receives iron-rich foods as part of his diet to protect him from developing anemia. Consult your baby's pediatrician if you are concerned about iron levels or before making any drastic changes in your baby's diet.
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Babies At Risk
If your baby was premature -- smaller than 3,000 grams at birth -- or fed non-fortified formula she may be at greater risk for developing an iron deficiency. If you are concerned about your baby's iron intake you should also include foods with vitamin C in their diet, since vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron.
Cereals With Iron
Often recommended as the first solid food for babies, iron-fortified cereals designed for infants come in a variety of types, using different grains. Rice cereal is a common first food, since it tends to be mild and easy for infants to digest. Infant cereals also come in oat, wheat, barley and multi-grain varieties. Some parents choose to use regular whole-grain cereals, such as oatmeal, which contains 4 to 6 milligrams of iron per serving, according to the HealthLink BC website. During the early introductory period, you can mix cereal with breast milk or formula to gradually get your baby used to the new texture and consistency of solid food.
Iron In Egg Yolk
Egg yolks are high in iron and can be mashed or strained and served to your baby. If your family has a history of egg allergies you might want to wait until after your baby is one year old to introduce any type of egg product, including yolks. In general, however, egg yolks are less allergenic than egg whites, which contain the potentially allergenic compound albumin. Cook egg yolks completely to avoid salmonella.
Starchy Food Sources
Some starchy vegetables have high levels of iron. These types of food tend to be mild, soft and easy to chew, making them ideal for introductory solid foods. According to The Vegetarian Resource Group website, 1 cup of chick peas has 4.7 milligrams of iron, 1 cup of quinoa has 2.8 milligrams of iron and a single large potato with skin has 3.2 milligrams of iron.
Meat tends to be a good dietary source of iron and can be introduced to infants six months or older. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends pureeing meat for your baby to make sure he is getting enough iron in his diet. Good meats to start with include the dark meat of chicken, beef, chicken liver, beef liver and turkey. While organ meat, particularly liver, tends not to be popular in the United States, you should consider offering cooked organ meats as a baby food, since these are some of the best sources of iron available. You may want to hold off on introducing pork, shellfish and fish until your baby is a year old, since these foods can be allergenic.