Congrats on your little one! Just a heads up, babies are born with a small amount of iron, which they can get from breastmilk or formula for the first six months. After that, it's time to introduce some iron-rich solid foods. Don't worry, we've got you covered with a list of yummy options, along with tips to make it easy. We've even got ideas for baby-led weaning and vegetarian babies!
If your baby was born premature or with a low birth weight, they may need to start solids earlier to make sure they get enough iron. Check in with your doctor or child health nurse for personalized advice.
If you're ready to introduce meat to your baby's diet, mince meat is a great place to start. Cook up some lean beef, lamb, pork, or kangaroo until it's soft and there's no pink left. Then, mash or puree it to the texture that your baby can handle.
To make it more palatable, try combining the meat with a sweet vegetable like cooked pumpkin, carrot, or sweet potato. This not only helps your baby eat the meat but also provides essential iron. Avoid adding salt or soy sauce during cooking as it can harm your baby's developing kidneys.
When selecting meat, choose lean cuts as there is no iron in the fat - it's in the lean meat itself. Soft-cooked meat strips make for great finger foods, while meatballs or mini-meatloaves are perfect for your little one to hold in their hand.
Lean Meat Options we offer
Beans and legumes
Beans and legumes are an excellent source of iron, especially when combined with vitamin C-rich foods. They have a subtle flavour, making them a perfect addition to purees.
You can use canned beans like cannellini beans, white beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, or lentils, or soak and cook them yourself. Puree or mash them with your baby's vegetables, meat, or fruit.
Be cautious when choosing canned beans and make sure they don't have added salt as your baby's kidneys aren't mature enough to process it. Also, avoid adding salt during cooking.
For older babies who feed themselves, you can create ball-shaped bites resembling meatballs, using mashed beans and legumes with soft-cooked pumpkin, sweet potato, green veggies, tofu, egg, or meat. These iron-packed and tasty balls can be baked or fried in a little oil, but make sure they're cooked thoroughly if you include meat or egg.
An older baby may enjoy the challenge of using their pincer grip to pick up baked beans from a bowl. Baked beans can also be an excellent transition food for babies who have started with purees and are ready for lumpier textures.
Beans & Legumes we offer:
Chicken & Poultry
When introducing poultry to your baby's diet, it's best to choose skinless chicken or turkey. Lean chicken breast or mince, poached or steamed, are excellent first foods. Puree or mash them to a texture your baby is comfortable with. You can also combine chicken with vegetables to make meatballs that your baby can hold in their hand and feed themselves. Be mindful not to add salt or soy sauce while cooking as your baby's kidneys can't process salt yet.
It's essential to cook chicken thoroughly and ensure there are no pink bits. Any leftovers that you're not serving to your baby should be refrigerated as soon as they stop steaming. If you won't be serving any leftovers within 24 hours, freeze them.
Chicken and turkey blend well in purees and mashes with fruits like pear, apple, and tomato or vegetables like capsicum, spinach, avocado, and button mushrooms. However, it's best to experiment with various combinations to see what works best for your baby.
Chicken & Poultry we offer:
Very Textured/Stage 3:
Eggs can be a nutritious addition to your baby's diet from the age of six months. You can mash boiled egg yolks into vegetables or cereals, or scramble them with a little milk added. Just make sure to avoid adding salt while cooking. For baby-led weaning, you can try plain omelettes or finely chopped egg with spinach, parsley, or basil.
If you want to add egg to meatballs or veggie balls, make sure the egg is well-cooked. It's important to note that raw or undercooked eggs may carry salmonella bacteria, which can cause food poisoning.
Although some babies may be allergic to eggs, avoiding them altogether may not be necessary. Unless your baby has an egg allergy, it's recommended to introduce cooked eggs to their diet before they turn 12 months old.
Green leafy vegetables
Green leafy vegetables are also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and folate. However, it's important to note that some green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and silverbeet, contain high levels of nitrates, which can be harmful to babies under six months old. For babies between six months and one year, it's recommended to limit the intake of nitrate-rich foods, including spinach and silverbeet, to once a week. Other green leafy vegetables, such as kale and broccoli, are low in nitrates and can be given more frequently. Always consult with your paediatrician before introducing new foods to your baby's diet.
Green Leafy Vegetables We offer:
It's important to note that iron-stoppers should not be completely avoided, but rather be consumed in moderation or at a separate time from iron-rich foods. For example, it's okay for older children and adults to drink tea or consume bran, but they should not be consumed alongside iron-rich foods or supplements. The same applies to cow's milk - it's okay to use it in cooking or have a little on cereal, but it should not be consumed at the same time as iron-rich foods or supplements.