Pediatric Nutrition

High Iron Diet

Everyone—especially infants and children—need Iron. Iron is a mineral that carries oxygen in the blood, and is particularly important for children because of their rapid growth. A child who is not getting enough iron can develop iron deficiency anemia. Children with iron deficiency anemia tire easily, look pale and have a poor appetite.

Typically, infants and children need 10 milligrams of iron each day. Adolescents require between 12-15 milligrams each day.

You can make sure your child is getting enough iron through a few simple steps:

  • Keep your child on breast milk or iron-fortified formula until age 1.
  • Give your child iron-fortified infant cereals up to age 18 months.
  • Include a variety of foods in your child's diet, including a high protein food (meat, chicken, eggs, dried beans) at lunch and dinner.
  • Provide high vitamin C foods—fruits and vegetables—in your child's diet daily. Foods and juices with high vitamin C help iron to be absorbed. Some foods that are high in vitamin C include:
    • Oranges
    • Strawberries
    • Grapefruit
    • Tomatoes
    • Cantaloupe
    • Green peppers
    • Broccoli
    • Greens (collard, mustard)
    • 100% fortified fruit juice
  • Provide foods rich in Iron. The best sources include:
    • Organ meats
    • Beef
    • Chicken
    • Poultry
    • Eggs
    • Fish
    • Leafy green vegetables
    • Dried peas or beans
    • Whole wheat flour
    • Enriched breads
    • Iron-fortified cereals
    • Dried fruits
    • Peanut butter