5 Delicious Iron-Rich Foods for Vegetarian Babies
In most cases, you should start introducing iron-rich foods for vegetarian babies after they get 6 months old. Infants are usually born with enough stores of this mineral to last this time. However, 6-12 months old babies require 11 mg of it a day and toddlers (1-3 years) need 7 mg. The best plant-food sources of iron include legumes, some vegetables, and fortified products.
Top 5 Best Iron-Rich Foods for Vegetarian Babies
1. Fortified Soy Milk
Non-breastfed babies under 2 years should drink about 2 cups of milk a day. If you go for the fortified variety, this will provide your child with a sufficient amount of iron.
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2. Fortified Formula
If you don’t breastfeed, a specialized fortified formula will ensure your child doesn’t develop any nutritional deficiencies. These products are made specifically for babies, so they account for all nutritional needs.
Bear in mind that not all formulas are fortified with the same elements, so check the label to make sure yours contains iron.
Amaranth is one of the healthiest grains and has more iron than even quinoa. It doesn’t contain gluten and has lots of fiber and easily-digestible proteins. The overall nutritional value of this grain is so high, that it can be called a superfood.
It also contains vitamin C, which naturally improves the absorption of iron your baby gets from this cereal.
4. White Beans
White beans are the easiest to digest, which makes them one of the best iron-rich foods for vegetarian babies among legumes. The natural flavor of this product is mild and it goes well with both fruits and vegetables, so you can include it in any puree for your infant.
Combine white beans with broccoli or mangos, as both of those are rich in vitamin C.
Lentils are reasonably easy on the baby’s stomach and contain almost as much iron as white beans. Split lentils can be cooked fast as they don’t require soaking, so busy parents will appreciate them most.
Can I Raise a Healthy Baby on a Vegetarian Diet?
Note that a well-balanced diet, regardless of whether it’s vegan, vegetarian, or omnivorous, should provide your child with a sufficient amount of iron by default. Therefore, there should be no need to take any extra supplements.
However, if your baby drinks a lot of cow’s milk, they might be at risk of iron deficiency, because this food is naturally low in iron and can interfere with its absorption rate.
Foods rich in vitamin C have the opposite effect as they improve our body’s ability to absorb and process iron. Keep this in mind when designing your baby’s menu.