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Why Your Baby Needs Iron

You may have noticed that our Wholegrain Cereals are fortified with iron and you may be wondering why? Iron plays an extremely important role in adults, children and babies. We have set out why iron is needed and why we have added it into our cereals for your little one to enjoy!

What is iron and why is it important?

Iron is required for effective oxygen transportation around the body to keep our cells working and living!(1) It is important that infants have adequate intakes of iron from their diet to ensure optimal growth and development, both physically and cognitively.(1,2)

There are 2 different forms of iron known as haem and non-haem that you can get from different sources of food.(1,3)

  • Haem iron – found in lean meats and fish and easily absorbed by humans.
  • Non-haem iron – found in plant sources such as grains, cereals, legumes and range of vegetables, however, not as easily absorbed by humans.

It is recommended that non-haem sources are eaten with foods that are high in vitamin C to help with the absorption of the iron. Some foods to accompany non-haem food sources include oranges, broccoli, carrots and strawberries!

Why does my baby need iron at 6 months?

Babies are born with iron stores that have been built up from their mothers blood whilst being in the womb.(1) After birth, babies iron stores are maintained through their mothers breast milk or infant formula as they are unable to produce iron themselves.(1)

At 6 months of age, infants iron stores begin to deplete due to being used at a high rate for their growth within first 6 months of life. This places infants at a high risk of becoming iron deficient if their iron needs are not adequately met through the diet.(1,2) When introducing solids to your little one, it is important to ensure they are getting foods that are rich in iron, which is where rice cereals come in.

The Australian Nutrient Reference Values (NRVs) outline the recommended dietary intakes of iron for 7-12 months as 11mg/day.(2)

Why Put Iron in Cereal?

Rice cereals are commonly the first port of call when beginning to introduce your baby to solids due to their smooth texture, bland flavour resulting in easiness to eat.

Here in Australia, is it mandatory that food for infants, including rice cereals, have at least 20mg/100g on a moisture free basis – i.e. in a powder and not prepared.(4)

Our Wholegrain Cereals provide little ones with a good source of iron whilst providing the chance to introduce your little ones to some wholegrains and subtle flavour of fruits. One sachet of our rice cereal provides a quarter of the recommended intake for 7-12 months of iron.

What other sources of iron suitable for 6+ months?

There are multiple other sources that can be options for your little one as a source of iron that your little one can move onto from fortified rice cereal once they are ready to. Some of which include:

  • Adding fortified rice cereals into pureed veg, meat and fruit.
  • Lean meats, such as red meat, turkey or fish.
  • Mashed beans and lentils.
  • Scrambled eggs.

As always, here at Funch we recommend and strongly suggest that you consult with your family dietitian, midwives and medical team prior to introducing any new foods into your little one’s or your own diet.

Conclusion

It is important your little gets iron from their diet to ensure their storage levels are maintained for optimal growth and development. Rice cereals are a great first food to introduce solids into your little ones lives when they are ready. Being fortified with iron helps you to know they are getting their iron in!

Why not try our Wholegrain Cereals that are a good source of iron and naturally flavoured with fruit powders? They create a lovely fluffy cereal that is smooth and creamy, making it the perfect introduction to solids option! Once they are ready, be sure to introduce iron rich foods into their diet.

References

  1. Paediatric Child Health. Iron needs of babies and children. 2007; 12(4):333-334. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2528681/
  2. National Health and Medical Research Council. Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand – Iron. 2005. Available from: https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/iron
  3. https://www.wch.sa.gov.au/services/az/other/nutrition/documents/
    Allaboutironinfoodforinfantstoddlersandyoungchildren.pdf
  4. Food Standards Australia and New Zealand. Standard 2.9.2 – Food for Infants. 2017. Available from: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2017C00334