Iron is vital in order to ensure good health and development in your child. It is responsible for making haemoglobin, the pigment which carries oxygen to the blood and myoglobin, a pigment that stores oxygen in muscles. A lack of iron can cause anaemia, which can result in fatigue, weakness and irritability.
Iron also affects brain development which means anaemia in children can cause long-lasting problems with cognitive development.
There are two kinds of iron that can be found in foods; haem (which is easily absorbed by the body) and non-haem (which is less easily absorbed by the body).
Some excellent sources of haem iron include lean red meat, chicken and fish. Generally, the darker the meat, the more iron it contains (e.g. brown meat of chicken is richer in iron than the breast).
Non-haem iron is found in foods such as fortified breakfast cereals, beans and lentils, wholegrain bread, dried apricots, green peas and spinach.
If you are a vegetarian or vegan, then this will limit your choices to foods containing less easily absorbed non-haem iron. However, including plenty of fruit and vegetables that are rich in Vitamin C will help in the absorption of iron.