Why iron is so important for a baby’s diet

Weaning |

Round about the age of 6 months old, babies are ready for their first taste of food. And this comes at just the right time, because the iron stores they were born with are now running low.

Iron is incredibly important for babies. It supports their growth, helps produce red blood cells, aids brain development, and helps fight infections by keeping their immune system healthy. This is why their iron supply needs topping up before it runs out completely.

Weaning gives you the perfect opportunity to do this. So, once your baby’s mastered smooth purées it’s time to bump up the texture – and pump up their iron content!

Iron rich foods for babies

Iron can be found in both animal and plant-based foods, although our bodies find it easier to absorb iron from animal sources. Red meat, such as beef, lamb or pork are ideal. Also fish, like salmon or mackerel, or eggs - boiled, scrambled and in cooking.

If you’ve chosen to give your little one a vegetarian or vegan diet, tofu, lentils, beans, tahini, and dark coloured vegetables like broccoli and spinach are great sources of iron for your baby too.

Then there are fortified foods. These are the store cupboard essentials; breakfast cereal, or bread that have iron added to them. If something has been fortified with iron, it’ll say so on the packaging. It all adds up. And while your baby’s getting to grips with food, every little helps!

Add vitamin C for maximum results

Did you know, vitamin C helps their little body absorb iron? So, to get the most from those iron-containing foods, your baby needs to eat them with vitamin C. The good news is, it’s easier – and tastier than it sounds! Citrus fruits (oranges and lemons), strawberries, peppers, broccoli, and potatoes all contain vitamin C.2 And rather handily, many popular recipes (Spag Bol, Sunday Roast, Cheesy Peasy Pasta, to name a few) combine these ingredients.

Readymade iron-containing meals

When you’re new to something – like weaning – it's not always easy to think up healthy meal ideas. So, we’ve made a start for you with our new HiPP Organic Veggie Plus jars. These handy little portions contain just the right amount of yummy food to help fill up their tummy – and top up their iron levels. With tasty dishes such as macaroni cheese with carrots and peas to choose from, you might want to recreate an adult version for yourself... (well, you’ve got your iron levels to think about too!)


1 South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust: How to Increase Your Iron Intake pdf