Top 25 Iron-Rich Foods for Babies & Toddlers

A pile of pumpkin seeds before they have been prepared for a baby starting solid foods

You are going to hear a lot about iron in baby’s first few years. This is because iron is a crucial micronutrient that helps form hemoglobin, which delivers oxygen and other nutrients throughout the body. Iron also plays a big role in neurodevelopment. And many babies and toddlers aren’t getting enough.

So to make things easier for you, we analyzed foods highest in iron and then whittled down the list to those most easily adapted for babies.

For more on the specific nutrients babies need, see our Nutrient Cheat Sheet for Babies or our First Foods Essentials bundle.

Have a toddler? Check out our guides for Toddlers at the Table.

Top 25 Iron-Rich Foods for Babies

  1. Chicken liver
  2. Venison
  3. Lentils
  4. Cannellini beans
  5. Fortified infant cereals
  6. Navy beans
  7. Black beans
  8. Pumpkin seed butter
  9. Tahini (sesame seed paste)
  10. Goat meat
  11. Hemp seeds
  12. Black-eyed peas
  13. Beef liver
  14. Bison
  15. Kidney, lima and pinto beans
  16. Edamame
  17. Sardines
  18. Cashew butter
  19. Tofu
  20. Pine nuts
  21. Garbanzo beans
  22. Buffalo
  23. Beef
  24. Lamb 
  25. Mackerel

Here’s the catch: not all iron is equal. Iron from animal sources such as chicken liver, is much more easily absorbed in the body than iron from plant-based foods like lentils and beans. To help baby’s body absorb iron from beans, nuts and other plant-based foods, serve foods high in vitamin C along with them. Red bell peppers and lentils, anyone?

Reviewed by:

Venus Kalami, MNSP, RD. Pediatric dietitian.

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