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Why is iron important for your baby? According to the CDC, iron is necessary to make hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in red blood cells to all parts of the body. Iron also supports proper neurological development during infancy and early childhood. Most babies are born with enough stores of iron to last until about six months, which is why it's so important to introduce Baby to foods rich in iron. In addition to our blog post with 12 Iron-Rich Foods, we wanted to give you some meal ideas that are packed with iron. We list meals with purées and finger foods, so you may need to adjust each meal to your Baby's stage of eating.
1. Blueberry Oatmeal and a Boiled Egg
One container of our Blueberry Oatmeal contains 30% of your Baby's iron needs for the day! Eggs are not only a great first food for Baby, the yolks are naturally high in iron - so make sure your Baby gobbles up the yolk of the boiled egg. Cutting the egg into quarters, or in small pieces to serve in a spoon, are both great ways to serve to Baby.
2. Sunshine Muffins and Sliced/Puréed Bananas
In case we didn't say it enough in the last meal idea, EGGS ARE A GREAT SOURCE OF IRON. In our Sunshine Muffins, you will find eggs, milk, cheese, spinach (another iron-rich food) and tomatoes. Four muffins have 12% of Baby's iron needs for the day. Bananas are also a great source of iron. You can use our Going Bananas, or mash/slice a banana at home.
3. Green Baby Cakes and Berries
Leafy greens, such as kale and spinach (which is what makes our Baby Cakes green) are great sources of iron for your baby. According to the CDC, pairing non-heme (non-animal) iron sources with foods high in vitamin C can help your baby absorb the iron they need to support development. Some fruits that are high in Vitamin C are citrus fruits (like oranges), berries and papaya.
4. Steamed or Puréed Green Beans and Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes have 2.5 mg of iron per half cup. Babies need about 11 mg of iron per day so this is a good chunk of their daily iron requirement. Green beans have 1 mg of iron per half cup and are loaded with vitamins that support eye health, immune health and iron absorption.
5. Steamed or Puréed Green Beans and Cooked Shredded Chicken
Another food that pairs well with green beans is chicken. Chicken contains so many nutrients including: vitamins B6 and B12, iron, zinc, choline, selenium, and vitamin B3, which work together to support antioxidant activities, fuel cell energy, create healthy blood, promote a strong sense of taste and smell, and boost brain health. You can serve chicken cooked and shredded for a finger food, or puréed, like our Chicken and Apples.
6. Chicken Nuggets or Meatballs with Vegetable Pasta
When serving meat to your baby, it's best to choose ground meat because it is softer and you can shape them into pieces that are easy for Baby to hold and gnaw on. We recommend skipping processed meats that may be high in sodium. The longer you hold off on salt, the better as your baby's taste buds don't know the difference between salted and unsalted. Café Baby's Zucchini Chicken Nuggets and Apple Carrot Turkey Meatballs are made with ground meat without salt and are packed with fruits and vegetables. You can pair these two with a pasta made with vegetable sauce (dark leafy greens and tomatoes) or our Baby Bolognese.
7. Pinto Beans and Chicken & Broccoli
This meal is packed with iron! One cup of pinto beans contains 3.5 mg of iron. Homemade pinto beans are preferred over canned due to lower sodium levels. You can even cook them with water in a crockpot on low for 8 hours. Depending on the eating stage of your baby, you can purée or mash them or serve whole. Pair with Chicken and Broccoli for more iron and protein!
8. Beef Stew or Salmon, Sweet Potato & Quinoa with Vegetable of Choice
Two more meats that are great sources of iron are beef and salmon. One container of our Baby Beef Stew contains over 15% of your baby's daily recommended amount of iron. When you're shopping for salmon, keep these things in mind. In our Salmon, Sweet Potato and Quinoa, salmon and sweet potato contain iron and one cup of quinoa has over 2.5 mg of iron. When choosing vegetables that are high in iron, be sure to pick green beans (1.8 mg of iron per 6 oz.) peas (1.6 mg per 6 oz.), spinach (1.05 mg per 6 oz.), sweet potatoes (0.7 mg per 6 oz.) or beans (over 1 mg per 1/4-cup).