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During pregnancy, the iron status of mothers should be carefully monitored to ensure they have adequate iron stores and intake to support both themselves and their growing baby's requirements in utero and up until the baby is six months old. If a mother follows a vegetarian or vegan diet or is generally low in dietary iron, a supplement or infusion will usually be prescribed to meet the increased requirements for this critical nutrient.
From the age of six months, the recommended iron intake for babies increases from 0.2mg/day to 11mg per day, so it is essential to introduce complementary foods to ensure babies can reach these substantially higher requirements. Iron deficiency and even anemia can result from a lack of iron, which can impede a child's growth and development and cause learning and behavioral issues.
Many signs and symptoms of iron deficiency will not appear until iron deficiency anemia occurs. However, suppose your infant or child falls into any of the categories listed above, or you are concerned. In that case, you should talk to his or her doctor and consider a blood test and supplementation.
Iron deficiency symptoms and signs can include the following:
There are a few vital steps you can take to help prevent iron deficiency in your child:
If your child is born pre-term, you should consider an iron supplement (this should be discussed with your pediatrician/doctor before commencing)
Avoid consuming calcium-containing foods such as cow's milk, yogurt, and cheese around the consumption of iron-rich meals, as calcium and iron compete for absorption.
Limit intake of milk in children aged 1 to 5 to no more than 500mL per day
Consume iron-rich foods with a source of Vitamin C, as vitamin C enhances iron absorption by up to 50%. While most fruit and vegetables are good sources of Vitamin C, capsicum, citrus fruits, tomatoes, dark leafy greens, and strawberries are all particularly good.
After six months of age, offer your child one iron-rich meal per day and gradually increase to two/three iron-rich meals per day by the time they are eight months old.
An iron-rich meal should contain at least one substantial source of iron. Sources of iron can be categorized into two key groups: haem and non-haem iron. Iron from most animal sources (haem iron) is generally more readily absorbed than iron from plant food sources (non-haem iron). However, both types of iron represent valuable sources and contribute to a child's overall iron intake. When consuming non-haem iron sources, it is vital to consume a source of vitamin C to enhance absorption.
Some examples of haem and non-haem iron sources are:
Iron deficiency in children can be prevented by offering iron-rich foods at meals and snacks. Suppose you are concerned that your child is not consuming enough iron. In that case, it is recommended to make an appointment with a dietitian to review their diet.
Better Health Channel. (2022). Iron deficiency - children. Retrieved from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/iron-deficiency-children.
Mayo Clinic. (2022). Iron deficiency. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/iron-deficiency-anemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355034.
National Health and Medical Research Council. (2017). Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand: Summary Tables. Retrieved from https://www.nrv.gov.au/resources/nrv-summary-tables.
Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne. (2019). Clinical Practice Guidelines: Iron Deficiency. Retrieved from https://www.rch.org.au/clinicalguide/guideline_index/Iron_deficiency/.
Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. (2017). Iron Needs of Babies and Children. Retrieved from https://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/iron_needs_of_babies_and_children.
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24 mini muffins
1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb soda
1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey (if older than 12 months)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup milk of your choice
1/4 cup pepitas, chopped or ground
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 x 25g Nourishing Bubs Pumpkin Puree
200g ripe mashed banana (1 large or 2 small bananas)
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 180°C. Place patty pan liners in 24 mini muffin tins or 12 regular muffin tins.
Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
Combine Nourishing Bubs Pumpkin Puree, mashed banana, melted coconut oil, milk and vanilla extract in a small bowl and mix. Add to dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Spoon mixture three-quarters of the way up patty liners. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts, if using.
Bake for 15 minutes (25 minutes for regular size) in preheated oven or until golden and a skewer comes out clean.
*Leave nuts off for nut free
*Suitable from 10 months or when handling finger food
My baby is ready for solids - do I puree feed? BLW? A combo of the two? Which is better for Bub? Which is better for me? Arghh help!
An article to reassure you and give you the confidence whichever mode of feeding you choose for your little one as they embark on their solids adventure!