Why is it important for my child to eat foods with iron?

Iron deficiency can occur in toddlers who are picky eaters and drink too much milk and don’t eat enough iron rich foods.  Toddlers ages one to three need 7 mg of iron per day. The most easily absorbed iron is called heme iron and is found in meat. The other form of iron is called non-heme iron and comes from plant sources, but because of its chemical structure, it’s not as easy for the intestines to absorb. Still, both sources of iron are good for your child. In fact, heme iron helps improve the absorption of non-heme iron, so eating food sources of both forms of iron at the same time (like turkey on whole-wheat bread) is ideal. Try to fit some of these iron-rich foods into your child’s diet each day.

What foods have iron in them?

  • Red meat
  • Egg yolks
  • Dark, leafy greens (spinach, collards)
  • Dried fruit (prunes, raisins)
  • Iron-enriched cereals and grains (check the labels)
  • Mollusks (oysters, clams, scallops)
  • Turkey or chicken giblets
  • Beans, lentils, chick peas and soybeans
  • Liver
  • Artichokes

Vitamin C helps with the absorption of iron so encourage your child to eat vitamin C rich foods as well.

How do I know if my child has low iron levels?

At Premier Pediatrics, we will check your child’s red blood cell levels at both nine months and two year. The most common cause of low red blood cell levels (anemia) is iron deficiency. These are times where due to the diet it is common for children to have low iron levels. If your child does in fact have anemia one of the doctors will contact you to discuss the next steps.