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Ask the experts: Iron for toddlers

Q: “My 15-month-old daughter is a keen eater and loves to pick up food to eat with her hands. I’m finding it hard to give her sufficient iron in her diet and I’d like to give her little sausages or luncheon to eat. Trouble is, I’m concerned about preservatives and other ‘nasties’ in sausage meat. Do you have any recommendations on ‘healthy’ sausages or meat-based finger foods?”

A: HFG nutritionist Claire Turnbull answers:

The recommended amount of iron for one to three-year olds is 9mg a day. When it comes to sausages, you are looking for varieties which are made with good quality meat without too much total fat (10g fat per 100g), saturated fat (4g per 100g or less) or salt (600mg sodium or less per 100g).

But there may be better options for a toddler. You can try making bite-sized finger foods from lean minced beef. Mini meatballs would be a great option. You could also make the mince into sausage shapes or bite-sized patties. One-third of a cup of cooked lean beef mince has 1.5mg iron, making it an ideal choice.

As a meat alternative, you could try eggs: they can be eaten in quarters as finger food — two boiled eggs contain 2mg iron.

Don’t forget, as well as these foods, many breakfast cereals are fortified with iron and can make a great meal or snack for toddlers. One Weet-Bix has 1mg iron, and half a cup of fortified Rice Bubbles has 0.75mg of iron. Check the packs to compare products.

To get adequate iron each day you could also include chicken, fish, tofu, green veges, dried apricots and baked beans. And it’s a good idea to give your child a piece of fruit with meals to increase iron absorption from their food.

Date modified: April 3 2017
First published: Apr 2012

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