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Iron Rich Foods for Babies in their First Year

baby with mouth open being fed with a spoon


When your baby's ready for more than breast milk, start introducing foods rich in iron.

These are important to prevent low iron stores (iron deficiency anemia), which can affect growth and brain development.  

Iron rich foods include:

  • beef, pork, lamb, veal
  • iron fortified infant cereal (Choose a single grain cereal, such as rice cereal, before starting mixed cereals.)
  • chicken, turkey
  • fish
  • tofu
  • beans and other legumes
  • eggs 

Shred or mince meat and meat alternatives (such as cooked beans, lentils and eggs) into very small pieces. Meat and poultry can sometimes be too dry for babies. Mix them with water, breast milk, or mashed vegetables to make sure they are moist enough for your baby to chew. If you're serving chicken or turkey, dark meat is moister than white. Fish is another great choice because it’s tender and easy to chew, but be sure to remove any bones.

When you give a non-meat source of iron, also give a vitamin C rich food. This will help your baby absorb more iron. Vitamin C rich foods include: red, yellow and green peppers, papaya, kiwi fruit, oranges, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, grapefruit, snow peas, orange and grapefruit juices, and fruit juices with vitamin C added.

Once your baby is nine months old and eating iron rich foods every day, you may start to offer sips of homo (3.25%) milk and slowly increase the amount to about 500 ml (two cups) a day.  But don't overdo it. Too much cow’s milk may lead to iron deficiency.

Food Safety

To reduce the risk of food poisoning, cook meat, fish and poultry well. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature.

Cook the following foods until their internal temperatures are :

  • 85°C for whole poultry

  • 74°C for ground poultry dishes and poultry pieces

  • 74°C for egg dishes

  • 77°C for beef, veal and lamb pieces and whole cuts

  • 71°C for pork pieces and whole cuts

Resources & Links:

HealthLink BC: Feeding your baby
HealthLink BC: Baby's First Foods
Healthy Canadians: Cooking Temperatures

Last Updated: August 4, 2013