Beef and Lamb
Did you know that a baby’s birth weight will triple in the first 12 months? Because they’re growing so fast, babies need lots of iron. This important element helps babies grow by carrying oxygen to every part of the body, and is essential for brain development and a baby’s ability to learn, and to fight infections.
By around six months of age, iron-rich foods are even more important as the iron stores built up in a baby’s third trimester are tapering off. In fact, at seven months old, a baby needs more iron than their Dad!
You can meet your baby’s iron needs with a combination of milk feeds, cooked lean beef and lamb, vegetables, and iron-fortified cereal. Just be aware that some iron, called non-haem iron, is not easily absorbed by the body. It’s found in green vegetables, bread, beans and infant iron-fortified cereals. However, eating those foods with vitamin C (found for example, in tomatoes, kiwifruit and oranges) helps the body absorb it better. Haem iron is found in red meat – especially liver*, kidney, beef and lamb, fish and poultry. Check out these delicious, iron-rich recipes from New Zealand Beef & Lamb.
If your baby (or you!) are showing these signs, it could be because of low iron levels:
grumpiness and irritability
feeling tired and lethargic
having difficulty sleeping
feeling the cold
reduced appetite and little weight gain
If you are concerned with your baby’s iron levels, talk to your GP.
*Liver is an excellent source of iron, but it is also rich in vitamin A, of which too much can be harmful, so don’t give your baby more than three teaspoons a week.
When first introducing liver to your baby, keep a small piece in the freezer and simply grate some into simmering, almost cooked veges/mince before pureeing.