How much iron does your baby really need?
Is your baby getting all the nutrients she needs which are essential for her growth and development -- especially iron? How can you add more iron to your little one's diet and what exactly are the benefits?
Once you start introducing your baby to solids after 6 months, it is important that you provide her with the right nutrients that are essential to her growth and development — one of which is iron.
Iron is a key nutrient that plays an important role in your baby’s nutrition, especially for red blood cells which carry oxygen to all parts of the body to help the body’s production of energy.
But how much iron does your bub need in her diet and what can you do to ensure that she is getting the sufficient amount?
Why do babies need iron?
Although babies are born with iron stored in their bodies, your little one will still require additional iron for her growth and development, as a baby’s iron stores will start to run low in the second half of her first year.
A lack of iron in your child’s diet may lead to an iron deficiency which can cause:
- Slow weight gain
- Pale skin
- Lack of appetite
- Slower development
- Shorter attention span
- Poor concentration skills
- Behavioural problems
- Poor academic performance
- Repeat infections
Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder in the world and Dr Joyce Lam, Consultant of Haematology/ Oncology Service from the Department of Paediatric Subspecialties at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) believes that this public health problem which affects up to 12% of infants in Singapore should not be left to chance discovery.
She says, “If iron deficiency is left untreated, children may progress to develop iron deficiency anaemia and suffer from consequences of anaemia such as lethargy, poor feeding and poor exercise tolerance.”
So it is recommended that after six months, your child should be getting two servings a day of plain, iron-fortified infant cereal mixed with breast milk or formula milk and Doctor Lam advocates for the early recognition and treatment as well as prevention of iron deficiency in children.
How much iron is needed?
Iron is an important nutritional mineral found in different foods and are also added to some food products or available as a dietary supplement.
According to the Iron Disorders Institute, people consume two types of iron: Heme iron, which primary comes from red meat; and nonheme iron which is mostly found in grains such as rice, wheat, and oats, nuts, fruits, vegetables and fortified foods.
The bioavailability of iron is around 14% to 18% from mixed diets that include substantial amounts of meat, seafood, and vitamin C and only 5% to 12% from vegetarian or vegan diets.
Babies between 7 – 12 months will require 11mg of additional iron per day and young children from 1 – 3 years need 7mg.
How to increase iron in your baby’s diet
To ensure that your little one is getting enough iron, you can include iron-rich foods in her diet after she is 6 months old.
The new CERELAC® Infant Cereal contains *more iron and meets more than ^50% of your baby’s daily iron needs.
It is made with baby grade ingredients that are grown especially for babies, has BIFIDUS BL Probiotics and DHA and the Cereals Hydrolyzed Enzymatically (CHE) is a unique technology used in CERELAC® to breakdown carbohydrates in cereal into smaller pieces for easier digestion.
*30% higher compared to previous recipe
^HPB Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for iron is 7mg for a 7-12months old baby. 1 serving of CERELAC ® (50g of cereal powder + 150ml of warm water) provides 5mg of iron.
Simple nutritious meal recipes for your growing baby
If you are not sure how exactly to cook an iron-rich meal for your little one, here some easy ideas for you:
Breakfast – Banana Cereal
Mix 4 tablespoons CERELAC® Infant Cereal Rice With Milk and 5 tablespoons of lukewarm boiled water together in your baby’s bowl until there is a creamy consistency.
Peel and mash half a banana with a fork and add it into the cereal rice mixture.
Lunch – Pumpkin Harvest
Wash and remove the skin of one apple and a slice of pumpkin, cut it into wedges and steam until cooked, then purée the apple and pumpkin together.
Mix CERELAC® Infant Cereal Wheat and Honey* with boiled lukewarm water to a creamy consistency then mix in the apple and pumpkin purée.
*The honey contained in CERELAC® Infant Cereal Wheat and Honey is treated and therefore safe for babies’ consumption (after 6 months)
Dinner – Vegetable Medley
Blanch some spinach in boiling water for about 2 minutes until it is soft and chop it finely.
Mix some CERELAC® Infant Cereal Rice & Mixed Vegetables with boiled lukewarm water to a smooth consistency, then stir in the spinach and mix well.