Nutrition: Make sure iron is in your baby's daily diet

Incorporating solid foods into your baby's diet is a big milestone. While it can be a fun experience trying new tastes and textures, it's also important to make sure variety and a balanced diet don't get left on the backburner.

This means making sure enough iron is included in daily diets. Iron is an essential nutrient that is critical for baby's growth and cognitive development, helping baby remember the new things learned each day. The risk of iron deficiency is high from six months to two years of age. Despite its importance, parents are often still missing the mark when it comes to having enough iron at mealtime.

At around six months, breast milk alone can no longer fully support baby's iron nutrition requirements. Health Canada recommends offering iron-rich or iron-fortified foods twice a day for babies six to 12 months and at least three times a day in the second year.

So when you start this fun and messy adventure of offering your baby new foods, try these three ideas to make sure you incorporate iron into your baby's diet every day:

- Try puréeing meats like beef, pork, chicken or turkey and mixing with baby's favourite fruits to help with texture and taste;

- Foods such as pumpkin butter, lentils and chickpeas are all good alternatives to meats and also great iron-rich options;

- Look for an iron-fortified infant cereal. Read the labels and you'll discover brands like Nestlé Gerber baby cereals have 100 per cent of your baby's daily iron in one serving.

- To help improve iron absorption, offer foods rich in vitamin C at the same meal as iron-fortified infant cereals. Try pureeing vitamin C-rich fruits, such as strawberries and raspberries.

A little bit of nutritional planning and a lot of patience for spills and splatters will go a long way to meet your baby's daily nutritional needs.


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