Question – I’m wondering how much iron babies need from solid food after the first 6 months and the best type of foods to deliver it. My daughter is 7 months and exclusively breastfed, apart from the occasional suck on a piece of capsicum or similar. She doesn’t seem interested in swallowing food, just sucking it. When she has swallowed some food (fruit/veg) she seems gassy and unsettled. Do I need to push food on her or just breastfeed on demand and eventually she’ll gravitate towards the type of foods that will meet her growing needs?
Answer – You don’t need to ‘push’ foods on babies. If she’s not keen yet I’m sure things will improve over time. Take it easy and gently. Never food force. Give her normal foods pureed, mostly vegies and fruit to start with and rapidly graduate on to meat, fish eggs and anything else that takes your and her fancy (but no honey).
Let me quote from my book “Your Cherished Baby” for the answer to your question about iron:
Breastfeeding infants after six months of age who have no extra iron-containing foods are at risk from iron deficiency, as there is little iron in breastmilk (however, what is there, is fully absorbed).
- Hence there is a need, at six months or so, to introduce iron-rich spoon foods, such as iron-fortified multigrain cereals, pureed meat, beef and chicken (especially beef or chicken liver) and iron-rich vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, brussels sprouts, beans, peas and potatoes.
Children need about 10 mg or so of iron each day. It is not hard to achieve this intake with a varied diet rich in the foods mentioned above.
- The early introduction of straight cow’s milk, especially under the age of one year, is a risk factor for iron deficiency. The cow’s milk binds the iron in the diet and stops its absorption, but also causes the bowel to bleed a little. A slow, steady loss of a little blood every day can rapidly deplete a child’s iron stores and cause a deficiency. Children on a high intake of cow’s milk even after one year old are also at risk and should be monitored.
- So make sure that after weaning you give your child sufficient quantities of good iron-rich foods to supply them with this vital element.
IRON RICH FOODS
- Haem-containing foods (the iron in the blood), the richest source:
- Meat of all kinds – lamb, beef, pork, chicken
- Liver (chock-full!)
- Seafood – shrimp, tuna and other fish.
- Non-haem containing foods: (the iron is harder to absorb, but enough if your general vegetarian diet is adequate)
- Legumes – chickpeas and lentils, foods like hommus
- Beans – kidney, baked, lima, black, pinto and soy
- Leafy (especially dark) green vegetables:spinach, broccoli, mustard greens, asparagus, brussels sprouts
- Eggs, especially the yolks
- Dried fruits, such as raisins, figs, dates, apricots, and prunes and prune juice.
- Peanut butter
- Iron-fortified breads and cereals, porridge oats.