Iron Rich Food For Babies & Toddlers - Recipes, Health Benefits

Iron is very important for a child’s growth and development. Here are some interesting recipes for iron-rich food for babies and toddlers. They will tempt your little one to eat well and be healthy.

By Hannah S Mathew  • 16 min read

Iron Rich Food For Babies & Toddlers - Recipes, Health Benefits

Iron is an important component of haemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells that carry oxygen to every part of the body. Without iron, the body can’t produce the right amount of red blood cells. If there’s insufficient iron, the body and brain of a growing child can be underdeveloped. That’s why it’s essential to ensure that your little one’s diet contains foods that are rich in iron.

The benefits of iron-rich food

  • Iron ensures that your baby’s lungs absorb oxygen easily.
  • Iron helps the organs of the body store oxygen.
  • Iron boosts your baby’s growth and development and the immune system.

The recommended daily allowance of iron for babies between 7 and 12 months is 5mg per day. Children between 1 and 3 years need 9mg per day.

Nuts, dates, pomegranates, beetroots, dark chocolate, red beans and eggs are some foods that are rich in iron. They are mostly inexpensive and easily available fresh. To get the most out of these foods, remember to:

  • Choose fresh produce always.
  • Wash all vegetables well.
  • Process the ingredients the right way to ensure that your baby gets the maximum benefits.

Note: Vitamin C helps in the absorption of iron, so be sure to include fruits and vegetables containing vitamin C in the iron-rich dishes you cook for your little one.

But, how would you ensure that your baby eats iron-rich foods to grow and stay healthy? And equally important, how would you make sure he enjoys the food you prepare for him?

Here are some iron-rich food recipes for children of different age-groups, from 7-month-old babies to 3-year-olds.

Iron-rich food recipes for babies (7 to 11 months)

A. Apple-banana pudding

Ingredients:

  • ½ red apple, peeled and grated
  • ½ banana mashed
  • ⅓ cup instant oats
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 tbsp formula milk
  • 3 drops ghee
  • 1 pinch of salt

Method of preparation:

  • Mix the water, oats and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
  • Grease a heavy-bottomed saucepan with the ghee and place it on a low flame.
  • Put in the grated apple and stir till cooked.
  • Pour in the oats mixture.
  • Stir in the formula and mix.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower the heat, stirring constantly till the cereal is fully cooked.
  • Keep stirring till a pasty texture is achieved.
  • Allow it to cool. Stir in the mashed banana before serving.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Nutrition value per serving (100g):

  • Calories 266
  • Fat 8.9g
  • Cholesterol 22mg
  • Sodium 257mg
  • Carbohydrate 40.6g
  • Iron 2mg
  • Fibre 5.5g
  • Protein 8.4g
  • Vitamin D 3mcg

B. Spinach purée

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups washed and chopped spinach
  • ½ cup grated carrot
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pinch salt

Method of preparation:

  • Steam the spinach until it is well cooked.
  • Drain and reserve the water.
  • Boil the carrot in water until it’s well cooked.
  • Drain the water and reserve.
  • Blend the spinach and carrot in a mixer-grinder till smooth, adding in the reserved water a little at a time, till the desired consistency is reached.
  • Season with salt and serve.

Preparation time: 15 to 20 minutes

Nutrition value per serving (100g):

  • Calories 36
  • Fat 0.2g
  • Sodium 240mg
  • Carbohydrate 7.6g
  • Fibre 2.7g
  • Protein 2.2g
  • Calcium 78mg
  • Iron 2mg
  • Potassium 511mg

C. Palak smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup washed and chopped palak
  • 3 drops ghee
  • 1 tbsp formula milk
  • ¼ cup water, to blend
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 pinch of jaggery

Method of preparation:

  • Grease a wok with the ghee.
  • Add the palak and stir till it is cooked.
  • Add the salt and jaggery.
  • Pour in the water and formula milk. Bring to a boil.
  • Take the wok off the fire. Let the mixture cool.
  • Blend in a mixer grinder and add water to get the desired consistency.

Preparation time: 15 to 20 minutes

Nutrition value per serving (100g):

  • Calories 38
  • Fat 1.2g
  • Sodium 383mg
  • Carbohydrate 5.8g
  • Fibre 0.7g
  • Protein 1.4g
  • Calcium 51mg
  • Iron 1mg
  • Potassium 341mg

D. Baby’s first egg

Ingredients:

  • 1 poached egg
  • ½ teaspoon butter
  • 1 pinch of salt

Method of preparation:

  • Blend the ingredients in a blender to a lumpy texture.
  • Feed warm

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Nutrition value per serving (100g):

  • Calories 88
  • Fat 6.9g
  • Cholesterol 190mg
  • Sodium 234mg
  • Carbohydrate 0.4g
  • Fibre 0g
  • Protein 6.3g
  • Vitamin D 18mcg
  • Calcium 27mg
  • Iron 1mg
  • Potassium 67mg

E. Pomegranate and apple blend

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup pomegranate pearls
  • 1 apple, peeled and cubed
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 1 pinch nutmeg

Method of preparation:

  • Steam the apple cubes for 10 minutes.
  • Add all other ingredients, and blend until smooth.
  • Pass the mixture through a large sieve to remove any hard particles that may cause choking.
  • Serve chilled.

Preparation time: 15 to 20 minutes

Nutrition value per serving (100g):

  • Calories 226
  • Fat 2g
  • Sodium 7mg
  • Carbohydrate 55.2g
  • Fibre 10.1g
  • Protein 2.1g
  • Calcium 19mg
  • Iron 1mg
  • Potassium 549mg

Iron-rich recipes for a one-year-old

A. Choco-oat shake

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp dark chocolate grated
  • ¼ cup oats
  • ¼ cup cow’s milk
  • ¼ cup water or as needed
  • 2 tbsp very ripe mashed banana
  • Salt to taste

Method of preparation:

  • In a flat-bottomed pan, cook the oats in the milk and water until it is soft and mushy.
  • Turn the flame to its lowest.
  • Stir in the chocolate and salt.
  • Take it off the fire and allow to cool.
  • Put the oats mixture and the mashed banana in a blender and blend well.
  • Add sufficient water while you blend till the mixture acquires a milkshake-like texture.
  • Serve chilled or at room-temperature.

Preparation time: 10 to 15 minutes

Nutrition value per serving (150g):

  • Calories 294
  • Fat 7.9g
  • Cholesterol 20mg
  • Sodium 277mg
  • Carbohydrate 48.8g
  • Fibre 4.4g
  • Protein 11.1g
  • Vitamin D 1mcg
  • Calcium 301mg
  • Iron 1mg
  • Potassium 603mg

B. Ragi ice cream

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup ragi (finger millet) flour
  • 1 cup cow’s milk
  • 1 tbsp condensed milk
  • 1 pinch of finely powdered cardamom seeds
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1 tiny pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp jaggery syrup

Method of preparation:

  • Mix the ragi in the milk till smooth.
  • Grease a heavy-bottomed saucepan with the ghee and heat it.
  • Turn off the flame and put the cardamom powder in the hot pan and stir till it gives off a nice aroma.
  • Light the stove and turn the flame down to the lowest point.
  • Pour in the ragi-milk mixture.
  • Stir in the salt, jaggery and condensed milk.
  • Keep stirring and bring to a boil.
  • Continue stirring till you get a pudding-like texture.
  • Take the pan off the heat and set aside to cool.
  • Mash with the back of a spoon to ensure there are no lumps.
  • Pour into an ice tray and freeze.
  • Just before serving, run the frozen cubes in a blender for a few minutes.
  • Serve cold.

Preparation time: 2 hours

Nutrition value per serving (150g):

  • Calories 308
  • Fat 11g
  • Sodium 299mg
  • Carbohydrate 42.5g
  • Fibre 0.6g
  • Protein 11.1g
  • Vitamin D 1mcg
  • Calcium 424mg
  • Iron 1mg
  • Potassium 216mg

C. Beetroot fingers

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups beetroot, grated
  • ¼ onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp cumin powder / jeera powder
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 potato, boiled and mashed
  • ¼ tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp corn flour
  • 1 tbsp maida
  • ½ tsp pepper, crushed
  • ¼ cup water
  • Salt
  • Oil for frying

Method of preparation:

  • Squeeze the grated beetroot till dry, and place in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the mashed potato, onion, ginger-garlic paste, all spices and coriander leaves.
  • Add ¼ cup breadcrumbs.
  • Mix well and knead into a dough.
  • Divide into small portions and shape into fingers.
  • Make a thick paste of the corn flour, maida and water; dip the fingers in the paste,
  • Roll each finger in the remaining bread crumbs.
  • Shallow-fry in oil and drain on a kitchen towel.

Preparation time: 30 to 45 minutes

Nutrition value per serving (150g):

  • Calories 998
  • Fat 21.4g
  • Sodium 1097mg
  • Carbohydrate 149.6g
  • Fibre 16.8g
  • Protein 22.9g
  • Calcium 363mg
  • Iron 9mg
  • Potassium 1098mg

D. Date rice

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup well-cooked brown rice
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 3 strands saffron
  • 2 tbsp jaggery syrup
  • 1 pinch of finely powdered cardamom
  • 2 almonds grated
  • 2 cashew nuts grated
  • 2 tablespoons dates finely chopped
  • Salt

Method of preparation:

  • Mash the rice slightly with a fork while it is still hot. Set it aside.
  • Soak the saffron in a tablespoon of water. Set aside.
  • Heat one tablespoon of ghee in a wok.
  • Sauté the grated nuts. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a plate, leaving the remaining ghee in the wok.
  • Sauté the dates in the ghee. Remove with a slotted spoon.
  • To the same wok, add the rice, cardamom, jaggery and saffron. Keep stirring the mixture for five minutes till golden and well coated with the remaining ghee.
  • Add the fried nuts and dates to the rice. Turn off the flame.
  • Mix well.
  • Serve hot.

Preparation time: 15 to 20 minutes

Nutrition value per serving (150g):

  • Calories 359
  • Fat 15.7g
  • Cholesterol 33mg
  • Sodium 156mg
  • Carbohydrate 53.8g
  • Fibre 2.9g
  • Protein 3.7g
  • Calcium 18mg
  • Iron 1mg
  • Potassium 245mg

E. High-five bake

Ingredients:

  • 5 finger-sized sticks of beetroot
  • 5 finger-sized sticks of potato (skin on)
  • 5 finger-sized strips of apple
  • 5 finger-sized florets of broccoli
  • 5 pinches of instant mushroom soup powder
  • Butter to grease

Method of preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 375°F (191°C).
  • Grease a baking tray with butter.
  • Sprinkle the mushroom soup powder on the vegetables.
  • Spread them on the baking tray.
  • Bake in the preheated hot oven for 15 minutes.
  • Turn over the vegetable fingers carefully, and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Serve with a cheese dip or tomato sauce.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Nutrition value per serving (150 g):

  • Calories 319
  • Fat 1.2g
  • Sodium 181mg
  • Carbohydrate 75.5g
  • Fibre 13.2g
  • Protein 8.2g
  • Calcium 78mg
  • Iron 4mg
  • Potassium 1506mg

Iron-rich food recipes for a two-year-old

A. Egg-stuffed chapattis

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg, boiled
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves chopped
  • 1 pinch of garam masala
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 lemon-sized balls of whole-wheat flour dough
  • 1 tbsp puréed tomato

Method of preparation:

  • Chop the boiled egg finely.
  • To a heated pan, add one tablespoon of butter and cook the tomato purée in it, on a low flame. Turn the flame off and stir in the garam masala. Set aside.
  • Roll out one ball of the dough into a circular chapatti.
  • Spread half the chopped egg on one half of the circle.
  • Drizzle half the tomato mixture on it.
  • Sprinkle the coriander leaves on the eggs.
  • Fold the lower half of the circle over the top half, to make a semi-circle.
  • Press down the edges with a fingertip dipped in a bowl of clean water, to seal tightly.
  • Grease a griddle with butter and toast the stuffed chapatti till golden brown on each side.
  • Make sure the flame is low and keep pressing down the chapatti with a spatula, to ensure that it cooks through.
  • Repeat the procedure with the second ball of dough.
  • Serve hot.

Preparation time: 25 to 30 minutes

Nutrition value per serving (200g):

  • Calories 1184
  • Fat 16.3g
  • Cholesterol 225mg
  • Sodium 235mg
  • Carbohydrate 192.7g
  • Fibre 7.3g
  • Protein 31.9g
  • Vitamin D 31mcg
  • Calcium 68mg
  • Iron 13mg
  • Potassium 339mg

B. Spinach chutney

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups spinach, washed, chopped and blanched
  • 4 cloves garlic, lightly fried in a tsp of oil
  • ½ tbsp fresh basil leaves
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 cup boiled and peeled peanuts
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tsp jaggery syrup
  • ¼ cup grated mozzarella cheese

Method of preparation:

  • Blend the blanched spinach, fried garlic, basil and 2 tbsp oil to a smooth paste in a mixer-grinder.
  • Add the remaining ingredients except for the cheese, and blend again.
  • Stir in the cheese.
  • Put the chutney in a jar.
  • Heat the remaining oil. Cool, and pour over the chutney in the bottle (as for pickles).
  • Refrigerate and serve with idli, dosa or chapattis, or use to make chutney sandwiches.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Nutrition value per serving (200g):

  • Calories 1456
  • Fat 32g
  • Sodium 129.5mg
  • Carbohydrate 2833mg
  • Fibre 46.1g
  • Protein 21.4g
  • Calcium 50.3g
  • Vitamin D 651mcg
  • Iron 17mg
  • Potassium 2911mg

C. Rajma, beetroot and rice gruel

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup beetroot grated
  • ½ cup cooked brown rice
  • ½ cup rajma (kidney beans) soaked overnight
  • ½ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 pinch of garam masala
  • 1 pinch of ground ginger
  • 1 pinch of ground garlic
  • 1 slit green chilli
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 pinch of sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • Water as required

Method of preparation:

  • Put the soaked rajma in a pressure cooker and cook for 6 whistles.
  • In a frying-pan, heat the oil and sauté the onions till they become translucent.
  • Add the garam masala, ginger, garlic, sugar and slit chilli. Keep stirring the mixture over a low flame. Ensure that it does not burn.
  • Add the tomato purée and cook well on a high flame.
  • Next, add the beetroot and sauté till it is fully cooked.
  • Stir in the cooked rajma.
  • Mix well and adding sufficient water bring it to a boil.
  • Turn the flame to its lowest and let it simmer for five minutes.
  • Wait till the gravy thickens. Then gently fold in the cooked rice (The texture should be slightly soupy).
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with coriander leaves.
  • Serve hot with a bowl of cool curd.

Preparation time: 25 to 30 minutes

Nutrition value per serving (200g):

  • Calories 668
  • Fat 17.6g
  • Sodium 663mg
  • Carbohydrate 110.8g
  • Fibre 13.5g
  • Protein 17.6g
  • Calcium 130mg
  • Iron 5mg
  • Potassium 840mg

D. Methi-soya filling

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup soya granules
  • ½ cup fresh methi (fenugreek) leaves
  • ½ cup onions ground
  • 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 pinches of pepper powder
  • 1 pinch of turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste

Method of preparation:

  • Soak the soya granules in 2 cups of very hot water. Cover with a lid and leave for 10 mins. Strain and pour cool drinking water on the granules. Drain the granules and squeeze till dry. (Alternatively, follow the instructions given on the pack to prepare the soya before cooking).
  • Mix together the ground onion, ginger-garlic paste and pepper powder.
  • Marinate the soya in this paste for half an hour.
  • Heat the butter in a frying pan and add the methi leaves. Stir fry till the leaves are cooked.
  • Put in the soya with the marinade. Add the turmeric and salt.
  • Stir-fry till the soya is well cooked and the mixture is almost dry.
  • Use it to fill chapattis and serve rolled up.

Preparation time: 1 hour

Nutrition value per serving (200g):

  • Calories 191
  • Fat 12.8g
  • Cholesterol 31mg
  • Sodium 542mg
  • Carbohydrate 14.7g
  • Fibre 2.3g
  • Protein 5.3g
  • Vitamin D 8mcg
  • Calcium 418mg
  • Iron 2mg
  • Potassium 97mg

We hope you enjoy trying out these recipes for iron-rich food for babies and toddlers and that your little one enjoys eating them. May your baby grow and glow! Bon appetit!

IMPORTANT: Before starting your child on any new food, always consult your paediatrician.

About the expert:

Reviewed by Dr Neha Sanwalka Rungta on 15 October 2019

Dr Neha Sanwalka Rungta is a paediatric nutritionist and director of NutriCanvas.

About the author:

Written by Hannah S Mathew on 25 September 2019; updated on on 15 October 2019

Hannah S Mathew is an Assistant Professor of English, a freelance writer, soft skills trainer, learning content developer, mentor, diagnostic counsellor and devoted mom to a teenager.

Looking for expert tips and interesting articles on parenting? Subscribe now to our magazine. Connect with us on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Join our Circles to share, discuss and learn from fellow parents and experts!