10 Clever Ways to Get More Iron into Your Child’s Diet

Got a picky eater on your hands and want to make sure they’re getting enough iron? Forget a nightly standoff between you, your child, and that plate of kale and try some of these clever ways to get more iron into your child without a fuss.

1. Cereal-Breaded Chicken Nuggets

I bet your child loves chicken nuggets, right? Make this tasty, iron-packed treat yourself! Using lean chicken cut into small pieces, dip the pieces in egg and roll in crushed cornflakes. Pop them in the oven, bake, and serve with some favourite dipping sauces. There are many different variations of this recipe on the internet, but here’s one to try.

2. Macaroni and Cheese with Ham

I find that good ol’ mac and cheese is a true favourite among all children, and while it’s easy enough to make, it may not offer the best nutrients. Simply add little cubes of ham to the dish for added iron and new flavours.

3. Salsa with Added Beans

Make dinner a real fiesta by serving whole grain tortilla chips and salsa. Add some iron-packed beans to the salsa and they’ll be none the wiser!

4. Hamburgers

This is almost a no-brainer since most kids are more than happy to eat burgers anytime! Make the patties yourself using lean ground meat and kick up the iron by adding some shredded kale, spinach, or even pureed beans before you cook it. Serve with homemade potato wedges that you bake with the skin on for even more iron. And don’t forget the ketchup for dipping!

5. Cereal

Dry cereal contains as much as 50% of the daily recommended iron intake (be sure to read the product labels, and also be aware that calcium can potentially inhibit iron absorption). Choose flavors your child loves or add dried fruit (apricots, prunes, etc.) on top to sweeten whole grain and oat cereals while also adding more iron!

6. Molasses Cookies & Oatmeal Cookies

Yes, you can make cookies that taste good and have a lot of iron. Molasses cookies are great for this if you substitute half of the molasses in the recipe for blackstrap molasses which contains as much as 3.6 mg of iron per tablespoon! Chewy oatmeal cookies are always a treat too, and you can add chopped dried fruits and nuts for even more iron.

7. Spaghetti & Meatballs

What kid doesn’t enjoy spaghetti and meatballs? Pasta, tomato sauce, and ground beef are all high in iron. Puree some spinach or peas and add them to the tomato sauce to sneak in even more iron!

8. Pumpkin Seed Snacks

If your child is old enough to eat roasted pumpkin seeds, you can make them a regular snack at home or for their school lunch bag. These crunchy seeds contain a high amount of iron and other important nutrients too.

9. Smoothies

Sneaking in spinach, kale, or other leafy greens is easy with smoothies because berries and other fruits will help mask the taste. Just throw it all into the food processor or blender with some water or juice! And don’t forget to add some citrus or other fruits that are high in vitamin C to help the body better absorb the iron.

10. Black Bean Cake

Lastly, have you ever thought of adding beans to a cake recipe? Well, believe it or not, it’s a clever way to sneak an iron-rich food into a dessert that will still be devoured by your kids (and you)! While there is a plethora of recipes available online (here’s one to try), this can be a healthier cake choice and also budget-friendly, mainly using eggs, beans, and cocoa powder.


Just a Reminder…

Iron plays an essential role in your child’s health and a lack thereof (iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia) has been associated with poor growth and development. A child’s iron needs vary depending on their age. The following guide shows the recommended daily amount for children of all ages:

Age Recommended Daily Iron Intake (mg)

7- 12 years

11 mg

1 – 3 years

7 mg

4 – 8 years

10 mg

9 – 13 years

8 mg

Girls 14 – 18 years

15 mg

Boys 14 – 18 years

11 mg

I would love to hear YOUR clever ideas about how you get more iron into your child’s diet. Please leave your tips in the comments below!

Content and advice provided on The Iron Maiden is for information purposes only and should not serve as a substitute for a licensed health care provider, who is knowledgeable about an individual’s unique health care needs

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