Iron Rich Recipes For Kids (2024)


In this article, I'm going to talk about iron-rich foods for kids.

Both traditional and perhaps more alternative food sources of iron for kids and picky eaters and why we should think about whether our kids are getting enough iron.

We often focus on enough fruits and veggies, not too much sugar, enough protein, but iron is something to consider too.

Many children are not getting enough iron

Kiwi Kids are by no means exempt. Despite living in the land of plenty the Nutrition studies undertaken in NZ have found

  • 66% of toddlers were at risk of inadequate iron intake (1)
  • 14 % of kiwi kids under the age of two were iron deficient (2)

What foods are high in iron?

I am sure most people are aware of the traditional iron-rich foods. For those who need a refresher here's a quick list

  • Red Meat
  • Pork
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Beans Lentils and Legumes
  • Dark greens and leafy vegetables (such as Spinach, Kale)

The problem is sometimes despite a huge amount of encouragement, young children might not be eating enough of these to meet their needs.

If you have a picky eater then these can often be the first foods to drop off from a child'sdiet.

So I thought I would put together a list of some of the other foods that can contribute significant amounts of iron in your child's diet. Other foods that picky eaters might be willing to try.

I alsohave a collection of recipes that contain loads of these iron-rich picky eater friendly ingredients that could also work for your child!

Before continuing on, I want to mention some of the more common causes of iron deficiency in children.

Things other than inadequate dietary intake, possible things you should rule out and check with your healthcare professional about if you are really concerned about iron deficiency for your child.

  • In preschool children, one of the biggest causes of iron deficiency can be due to inadequate intake of complementary foods because of too higher milk intake. ie the child fills up on milk rather than foods.
  • Undiagnosed cows milk allergy can also contribute to iron deficiency in preschoolers
  • Other possible causesin preschool and school-age children include: Rapid/rebound growth, former low birth weight, Coeliac disease, Parasitic infection, Gastrointestinal blood loss

Alternative Iron-Rich Foods for Kids That Don’t Eat Meat

This is where I step in with my list of lesser-known iron-rich foods.

These foods are plant sources of iron (other than egg) which means the iron is not as well absorbed by the body as animal sources, but these foods can be contributing decent amounts of iron in your child's diet. Especially if you use them in baking and snacks.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but they are foods I find my kids will merrily snack on and eat in baking which is why I have them on my list.

  1. Oats
  2. Wheat Biscuits
  3. Cashews
  4. Eggs
  5. Dates,
  6. Sunflower Seeds
  7. Hummus and or Chickpeas
Iron Rich Recipes For Kids (1)

How much dietaryiron dochildren need?

Kids actually need quite high intakes of iron, the chart below provides the guidelines for NZ and Australia.

As you can see in relation to adults, particularly adult males, children have fairly high iron needs.

Iron Rich Recipes For Kids (2)

The traditional iron-rich foods such as red meat fish and chicken provide the required iron in relatively small servings, 100g of red meat, for example, provides approximately 3.4mg of iron.

But as discussed earlier sometimes our children are not particularly obliging when it comes to eating the recommended amounts of traditional iron-rich food.

Which is why I've put together a collection of easy kid-approved recipes utilising these iron foods.

Iron Rich Recipes For Kids (3)

Iron Rich Recipes For Kids


Iron Rich Recipes For Kids (4)

No-bake Chocolate Weetbix Slice

No-bake chocolate Weetbix slice, easy kid-friendly recipe made with Weetabix, or wheat biscuit breakfast cereal. (Iron Rich Ingredients: Wheat Biscuits, Sunflower Seeds, Dates)

Iron Rich Recipes For Kids (5)

Apricot Weetbix Slice

No-bake apricot weetbix slice, easy 3 ingredient kid-friendly recipe made with weetabix, or wheat biscuit breakfast cereal (Iron Rich Ingredients: Wheat Biscuits, Cashews)


Iron Rich Recipes For Kids (6)

Apple Oat No Bake Bites

No-bake Apple Oat Bites (Iron Rich Ingredients: Oats)


Iron Rich Recipes For Kids (7)

Healthy Apple Oat Bars

These healthy apple pie oat bars are a soft granola bar, that is low in sugar (Iron Rich Ingredients: Oats)


Iron Rich Recipes For Kids (8)

Nut Free Chocolate Bliss Balls

easy no-bake chocolate energy balls a nut-free vegan energy bite recipe (Iron Rich Ingredients: Sunflower Seeds, Dates)


Iron Rich Recipes For Kids (9)

Baby Pancakes - Apple and Oat

Baby pancakes made with apple and oat, perfect for baby led weaning, wheat free, egg free, refined sugar free #babyledweaning (Iron Rich Ingredients: Oats, Eggs)


Iron Rich Recipes For Kids (10)

Courgette/Zucchini Slice

(Iron Rich Ingredients: Eggs)


Iron Rich Recipes For Kids (11)

Cauliflower Cheese Egg Muffins

(Iron Rich Ingredients: Eggs)


Iron Rich Recipes For Kids (12)

Crispy Crunchy Chickpea and Oat Crackers

(Iron Rich Ingredients: Oats, Chickpeas))


Iron Rich Recipes For Kids (13)

Chickpea Banana and Chocolate Slice

(Iron Rich Ingredients: Chickpeas)


Iron Rich Recipes For Kids (14)

Healthy Baby Rusks- An easy teething biscuit recipe

Sweet Potato Oat & Chamomile baby rusks (Iron Rich Ingredients: Oats)


Iron Rich Recipes For Kids (15)

Carrot Cake Oat Cakes

Mini Oat Pancakes for kids (Iron Rich Ingredients: Oats)


Iron Rich Recipes For Kids (16)

Carrot Cake Energy Bites

Known as Carrot oat energy bites or carrot cake bliss balls, these are a healthy no-bake nut-free energy ball for kids and a perfect healthy Christmas treat, (Reindeer Food) (Iron Rich Ingredients: Oats, Dates, Sunflower Seeds)


Iron Rich Recipes For Kids (17)

Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookies

These chocolate chip chickpea cookies are such a great healthy cookie recipe. They are an easy vegan recipe, loaded with plant-based protein. Nut-free means they are perfect for the school lunchbox as well (Iron Rich Ingredients: Oats, Chickpeas)


Iron Rich Recipes For Kids (18)

Zucchini Picnic Muffins

(Iron Rich Ingredients: Eggs)


Iron Rich Recipes For Kids (19)

Soft cookies for babies made with oats, sweet potato and banana

(1)Soh et. al Dietary intakes of 6–24-month-old urban South Island New Zealand children in relation to biochemical iron status, Public Health Nutrition, 2002; 5 339-346

(2)Grant CC, Wall CR, Brunt D, Crengle S, Scragg R. Population prevalence and risk factors for iron deficiency in Auckland, New Zealand. J Paediatr. Child Health 2007; 43: 531-7.

Iron Rich Recipes For Kids (2024)


What food is highest in iron for children? ›

Kids and teens should know that iron is an important part of a healthy diet. Foods rich in iron include: beef, pork, poultry, and seafood.

What are some iron-rich meals? ›

Iron-rich recipes
  • Steaks with goulash sauce & sweet potato fries. ...
  • Rosemary balsamic lamb with vegetable mash. ...
  • Tofu & spinach cannelloni. ...
  • Zingy teriyaki beef skewers. ...
  • Spinach, sweet potato & lentil dhal. ...
  • Vegan lentil stew. ...
  • Mussels with chorizo, beans & cavolo nero. ...
  • Lamb & squash biryani with cucumber raita.

What are iron-rich foods for picky eaters? ›

Iron-rich foods comparison chart (commonly consumed kids' foods)
Food ItemIron SourceIron Content
Oatmeal (1 cup)Non-Heme13.9 mg
Whole Wheat Bread (1 slice)Non-Heme0.7 mg
Peanut Butter (1 Tbsp)Non-Heme0.3 mg
Almond Butter (1 Tbsp)Non-Heme0.6 mg
10 more rows
Mar 13, 2024

Which foods best meet children's iron requirements? ›

Feeding your toddler iron-rich foods alongside foods high in vitamin C can help decrease their risk of developing iron deficiency.
  1. Lean meats. ...
  2. Fortified cereals. ...
  3. Beans. ...
  4. Spinach. ...
  5. Raisins and other dried fruit. ...
  6. Pumpkin seeds. ...
  7. Eggs. ...
  8. Green peas.
Jun 24, 2020

Is peanut butter high in iron? ›

Peanut butter is rich in iron and can be used as a spread or served to children. Peanut butter contains 0.56 mg iron per tablespoon. White beans are good when it comes to iron, providing 8 mg per serving.

How can I increase my child's iron intake? ›

Try some of these ideas to boost your child's iron intake

Add some fruit to help iron absorption. Spread peanut butter or hummus on toast or crackers. Thicken homemade soups with dried peas, beans or lentils. Use wholegrain bread rather than white bread.

What is the No 1 iron food? ›

Iron Rich Foods

Heme iron is found in meat, fish and poultry. It is the form of iron that is most readily absorbed by your body. You absorb up to 30 percent of the heme iron that you consume. Eating meat generally boosts your iron levels far more than eating non-heme iron.

What are the top 10 iron rich foods? ›

Good sources include:
  • iron-fortified bread and breakfast cereal.
  • nuts and seeds.
  • dried fruit.
  • wholemeal pasta and bread.
  • legumes — such as mixed beans, baked beans, lentils and chickpeas.
  • dark leafy green vegetables — such as spinach, silver beet and broccoli.
  • tofu.

What is the highest iron food? ›

Food Sources of Iron
Foods with heme ironServingIron (mg)
Liver (pork, chicken, or beef)*75 g (2 ½ oz)4.6 to 13.4
Oysters** or mussels75 g (2 ½ oz)5.0 to 6.3
Lamb or beef75 g (2 ½ oz)1.5 to 2.4
Clams75 g (2 ½ oz)2.1
18 more rows
Mar 25, 2022

What are easy snacks for iron deficiency? ›

“Non-heme iron is found in plant foods like whole grains, nuts, legumes, seeds and green leafy vegetables,” says Dr. Braunstein. Combine non-heme iron sources with vitamin C-rich foods such as oranges, berries, tomatoes, sweet potato, red peppers and broccoli to increase absorption.

What foods make iron deficiency worse? ›

These foods bind with iron and prevent your body from absorbing it:
  • Cocoa.
  • Bread made from high extraction flour.
  • Coffee.
  • Tea.
  • Most red wines.
  • Bran products.
  • Pasta products.
  • Calcium-rich foods like milk and cheese.

Are Cheerios high in iron? ›

Furthermore, Cheerios are low in calories and fat. They also boast several essential nutrients that many people don't get enough of, such as fiber and vitamin D ( 2 , 3 ). Notably, 1 cup (28 grams) of Cheerios provides 45% of the Daily Value (DV) for iron, which many people are deficient in.

Is Sweet Potato high in iron? ›

Pop a sweet potato into the oven or microwave, and you'll soon have an iron-rich dish. Baked sweet potatoes have about 1.7 mg of iron per cup. Swiss chard is an excellent source of iron, with almost 4 mg per cup, cooked.

What pasta is high in iron? ›

Legume pasta*

If your picky eater likes pasta, try a legume-based pasta such as chickpea or red lentil pasta. These come in the same familiar pasta shapes but are made with legumes instead of wheat, so they're higher in a range of nutrients including iron.

What 3 foods contain the highest amount of iron? ›

Food Sources of Iron
Foods with heme ironServingIron (mg)
Liver (pork, chicken, or beef)*75 g (2 ½ oz)4.6 to 13.4
Oysters** or mussels75 g (2 ½ oz)5.0 to 6.3
Lamb or beef75 g (2 ½ oz)1.5 to 2.4
Clams75 g (2 ½ oz)2.1
23 more rows
Mar 25, 2022

What fruits are high in iron for kids? ›

Foods that are a good source of iron include:
  • Beans, including kidney, lima, navy, black, pinto, soybeans, and lentils.
  • Blackstrap molasses.
  • Chicken and turkey.
  • Dried fruits, such as raisins, prunes, dates, and apricots.
  • Egg yolks.
  • Greens, including collard greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach, and turnip greens.
Mar 8, 2020

What is the number one food rich in iron? ›

Red meat is rich in heme iron, along with protein, selenium, and zinc. The amount of iron depends on the type of red meat. For every 100 grams of meat, beef has about 2.47 mg of iron, lamb has 1.78 mg, and venison has 4.98mg. Seafood is also a good source of iron, depending on the species.

What fruit is high in iron? ›

  • Strawberries.
  • Watermelon.
  • Raisins.
  • Dates.
  • Figs.
  • Prunes.
  • Prune juice.
  • Dried apricots.


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