How Much Iron Babies Need and How You Can Increase Your Baby’s Iron Intake

December 3, 2018 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Food & Nutrition

How Much Iron Babies Need and How You Can Increase Your Baby’s Iron Intake | Baby Beyond

As new parents, I’m sure that most of us have, at some point or the other, been concerned about our baby’s iron intake or discussed it with our paediatricians. And with good reason, as unfortunately iron deficiency is one of the most significant public health problems in India.

Iron is an essential mineral which aids formation of haemoglobin. Haemoglobin carries oxygen all over the body. Low levels of hemoglobin (iron-deficiency anemia) can cause fatigue, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, decreased appetite and pale skin. Over a period of time, it can also have long-lasting effects such as social withdrawal, muscle weakness, delayed learning and behavioural issues.

I have personally battled with iron-deficiency anemia for a major part of my life. Though I am healthy now, it has been a long struggle to get here and that is why it makes me overly cautious in ensuring that my child gets the right amount of iron in his diet.


So what are the iron requirements of the body as our babies grow and how can we ensure they are met?

How Much Iron Babies Need and How You Can Increase Your Baby’s Iron Intake | Baby Beyond

How Much Iron Babies Need and How You Can Increase Your Baby’s Iron Intake | Baby Beyond



0 – 6 months:

Babies are born with a iron reserves which they get from the mother’s blood. Up to 6 months of age, babies usually get the iron they need from breast milk. Even if you are formula feeding, you need not be concerned. Just ensure that you choose the right formula which fulfills baby’s iron requirement. For eg. Similac IQ+ contains iron content to support healthy growth of the baby. Note that your paediatrician might prescribe iron drops in exceptional cases (pre-term / low birth weight).


Also read: 9 Ways to Help Build Your Baby’s Immunity 


6 – 12 months:

At this age, a baby’s body is growing rapidly and needs typically need 11 mg of iron per day. Babies at this age are also at a high risk of iron deficiency because the iron stores they were born with start depleting. If you are feeding an iron-fortified formula, your baby should be fine. However exclusively breastfed babies, such as N was, require iron supplementation in the form of iron drops or iron-fortified cereals.


1 – 3 years:

Toddlers aged 1 to 3 years require 7mg of iron per day. Since most toddlers are weaned at this age, we need to ensure that they are getting this iron from their daily diet.

Here are some tips to ensure that your child meets the daily iron intake requirement:


Include a variety iron-rich foods in daily diet:

These include:

  • Meat, poultry and eggs – Iron from animal sources is more easily absorbed by the body. If you are vegetarian, you need to take extra care to ensure you include the below options in your child’s diet
  • Legumes – soya beans, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, green peas
  • Green leafy vegetables – spinach, broccoli, kale
  • Dry fruits – raisins, prunes
  • Nuts and seeds – Pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, cashews, almonds, pine nuts
  • Grains – whole wheat, brown rice, oats, quinoa, amaranth


Also read: How I Got My Kid Interested in Eating Healthy Food


Add a source of Vitamin C to the meal:

Vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron by the body. Adding a few drops of lime to the food, or including Vitamin C rich sources such as oranges, strawberries, kiwis, potato, tomato, brocolli, cauliflower etc. will help the iron in the meal get absorbed.


Avoid calcium and iron rich foods together:

Calcium inhibits the absorption of iron, so avoid feeding high-calcium foods, such as dairy products, with high-iron foods.


Also read: 60+ Healthy, Homemade Finger Food Ideas for Toddlers


The important thing to know is that iron deficiency is preventable and the best thing we as parents can do is be aware of our child’s iron intake and reach out to our paediatrician if we have any questions or concerns with it.


Disclaimer: This is a general information post based on my experience and research This post should not be mistaken for professional medical advice.

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  1. Roma said on December 4, 2018 3:27 pm:

    This is a topic I always felt should be written about and I am glad you did and that too so informatively. Exhaustive Post!

  2. Ruchi Verma said on December 4, 2018 11:36 pm:

    This is actually every parent is worried about and I am so glad that you have raised this and educating us …thanks a lot

  3. Neha Sharma said on December 6, 2018 4:46 pm:

    Such an informative post, Mahak. Iron deficiency is very common in young children if they are not given proper iron-rich diet, hence it becomes necessary to give them some kind of iron supplement. And giving a supplement becomes even more important if the child is a fussy eater.

  4. Pragnya Mishra said on December 7, 2018 2:27 pm:

    Iron deficiency is common in our country. This post would help many parents who are already struggling with their kid’s diet and deficiencies. Thankfully I follow almost all the points you shared. Also, you pointed it right calcium and iron look great as palak panner but it is better to eat both in other ways.

    1. Baby & Beyond said on December 7, 2018 2:29 pm:

      True Pragnya. One thing I struggle with is that my son needs a bowl of curd with every meal. So when there is Palak or any other iron rich food in that meal I have to figure out a way to serve curd after a gap

  5. Gunjan (tuggu.n.mommy) said on December 7, 2018 4:04 pm:

    This is an important topic and you have explained it so well age wise.. Usually, the first time parents do have a lot of questions. I am glad my Paed explained everything beforehand.

  6. Charu said on December 7, 2018 11:56 pm:

    Very informative post Mahak. Iron deficiency is the most common and we don’t realise till the symptoms become evident.

  7. Sinduja C said on December 8, 2018 9:53 am:

    Such an eye opener of a post. I was giving Tigger lentils and spinach regularly but how I know other sources as well. Thanks

  8. Snehalata Jain said on December 8, 2018 5:00 pm:

    Great to know the details you mentioned and food that contains iron.Very useful info.

  9. Misha said on December 8, 2018 5:01 pm:

    As always., Wonderfully informative post. I didn’t know Vit C is important for iron absorption as well

  10. Neha Jain said on December 9, 2018 1:11 pm:

    Thanks For sharing such an informative post ,many of us are not aware of iron deficiency and how to include food in a diet to improve it it would be really helpful for all moms

  11. Nimmy Joseph said on December 9, 2018 5:33 pm:

    I never knew all these, even though I’m a mom of two!! I’m definitely taking it to point that I’m gonna ensure my kids earlt enough food that has iron in it

  12. Princy said on December 9, 2018 8:16 pm:

    I wish i knew this when my kids were smaller this is really insightful. Thank you for this post

  13. Tina said on December 10, 2018 10:05 am:

    This is such an informative post for moms. Kids can be such fussy eaters. Iron absorption is best with juices with Vitamin C. I give an iron supplement to my son with orange juice.