6 Iron-Rich Foods for Baby-Led Weaning
6 min read
The weaning journey is an exciting time full of new flavours and textures, but you must also ensure that your baby is getting all the nutrients they need from their solids.
Often, giving your little ones a varied diet full of veggie goodness is the best way to ensure they are filling up on all the right nutrients. Here at Babease, our baby food pouches are packed with delicious nutritious vegetables, perfect for the weaning journey!
Here we explore the importance of iron-rich foods in baby-led weaning and the best foods to help boost your little one’s iron intake.
The Importance of an Iron-Rich Diet
Iron is hugely important for the human body and benefits every age, not just babies! As iron helps red blood cells transport oxygen around the body, it is a key nutrient that promotes healthy growth and development.
If a baby has an iron deficiency, they can experience cognitive or behavioural development delays, so it is important that your little one receives enough iron through the food they are beginning to explore.
If you are worried about iron deficiency in your little one, make sure to consult a healthcare professional who will be able to give you tailored advice and expert support.
Iron Intake During Baby-Led Weaning
For around the first six months, your baby will only be having milk feeds. Breast milk contains very low levels of iron, but babies are born with 6-to-8 months’ worth of iron suppositories absorbed in utero, so will likely receive a good amount of iron during this stage.
As your baby develops and begins the weaning journey, their natural iron stores will be running out, making it more important to ensure they start receiving enough iron from weaning foods or supplements.
Baby-led weaning (also called BLW) can be a great way to start introducing new foods, especially those that are rich with all the right nutrients. BLW is an approach to weaning whereby your little one takes a more active role in their weaning journey, exploring finger foods, feeling out new textures and deciding what they want to put in their mouth.
Some parents find that their baby takes more readily to new foods with the BLW approach, which can be especially helpful when introducing new iron-rich foods. However, it should be noted that some little ones may do better with traditional weaning methods - let your baby guide the journey as every little one will be different!
Iron-Rich Foods for Weaning
There are plenty of foods that can ensure your little one’s diet includes enough iron.
There are two types of iron you’ll find in food:
- Haem iron
- Non-haem iron
The former can be more easily absorbed by the body, and the latter is less easily absorbed.
Haem iron can often be found in red meats, but it is important to offer variety during weaning, so key foods that contain non-haem iron should also be made a staple and offered regularly.
Vitamin C can help the body absorb more non-haem iron; eating vitamin C-rich foods in tandem with sources of non-haem iron can be another great way to help boost iron intake.
Don’t worry if your little one seems hesitant to try new, iron-rich foods at first. Showing a bit of persistence and plenty of encouragement can often give you success even when they’ve given a grumpy refusal the day before!
Dark Leafy Greens
It’s no wonder we’re so enthusiastic about our veggies when they can offer so much when it comes to nutritional value.
Darky leafy greens like spinach or kale are a great source of iron and can easily be incorporated into purees at the beginning of the weaning journey.
Beans, Lentils and Other Legumes
These make another great option for boosting iron intake during weaning thanks to their versatility and variety.
Different beans or lentils can be incorporated into countless dishes and weaning recipes. The following make wonderful iron-rich options:
- Kidney beans
- Lima beans
Eggs are also brilliant for weaning as they can be cooked in loads of different ways, offering your little one something different every day.
The egg yolk is where the majority of its nutrients are stored, so make sure to incorporate whole eggs where you can.
Red meats are among the best sources of haem iron, where iron is more readily absorbed by the body. This includes things like beef, pork and lamb.
When feeding your child meat, you should always ensure that it is thoroughly cooked and cut or pureed into appropriate textures and sizes.
Peas are yet another super-veggie packed with nutrients and goodness - including iron.
Peas can offer a sweeter taste than the darker, more bitter greens, offering greater variety and making them more readily accepted by little foodies.
Pea puree or pea pasta make for popular, tasty weaning recipes.
Tofu, or bean curd, is made from soybeans and is usually considered a meat alternative thanks to its high protein levels. Like meat, tofu is also rich in iron.
Tofu is a brilliant option for weaning babies that don’t eat meat as well as those that do as it provides a different source of iron and offers a new texture that is unlike many other weaning foods.
Making sure your little one gets enough iron is essential as it is a key nutrient necessary for their development and growth. Luckily, an iron-rich diet can be easily achieved by eating healthily and with variety.
Be sure to check out our recipes section to turn some of these iron-rich foods into delicious tastes for the weaning journey!