Iron is an essential mineral in toddlers’ diets. Here’s how to make sure your little one is eating a varied, balanced diet to get the iron they need.
The importance of iron
Toddler’s iron requirements are relatively high compared to those of fully-grown adults. In fact, toddlers aged one to three years need around four-and-a-half times more iron than an adult man every day relative to their size. Because toddlers’ iron requirements are high, they need to eat foods containing iron on a regular basis
There are two types of dietary iron – ‘haem’ and ‘non-haem’. Haem iron is found in meat and fish, and it is well-absorbed by the body. Non-haem iron, which is less well-absorbed, is found in green leafy vegetables, beans, pulses and grains.
Some sources of dietary iron include:
Green leafy vegetables
Fortified breakfast cereals
Ideas for toddler meals and snacks containing iron
So that your toddler gets enough iron every day, encourage them to eat two portions of meat-based protein, or, if they don’t eat meat, three portions of iron-containing vegetable proteins. Meat-based meal and snack ideas that contain iron include: lamb or beef casserole, beef stroganoff, jambalaya, thinly-sliced chicken, ham or liver, mashed sardines or tuna pasta, and liver paté on toast. Vegetarian meals or snacks could include lentil dhal, baked beans or scrambled eggs on toast, broccoli frittata, kidney bean stew or hummus.
Fruit snacks containing iron could include bananas, dried fruit such as figs, apricots, prunes and sultanas with sliced pineapple or tangerine segments. And even the humble digestive biscuit, served topped with some sliced strawberries or mango, can be a source of iron – lovely.
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