Breast-feed or use iron-fortified formula. Breast-feeding until your child is age 1 is recommended. Iron from breast milk is more easily absorbed than is the iron found in formula. If breast-feeding isn’t possible, use iron-fortified infant formula. Cow’s milk isn’t a good source of iron for babies and isn’t recommended for children younger than age 1.
Encourage a balanced diet. When you begin serving your baby solids — typically between ages 4 months and 6 months — feed him or her foods with added iron, such as single-grain, iron-fortified baby cereal. For older children, good sources of iron include egg yolks, red meat, chicken, fish, beans and dark green leafy vegetables. Limit foods that are high in calories and low in vitamins and minerals, such as soda and potato chips.
Enhance absorption. Vitamin C helps promote the absorption of dietary iron. Although citrus juice isn’t generally recommended for children younger than age 1, you can help your child absorb iron by offering other foods rich in vitamin C — such as melon, strawberries, apricots, kiwi, broccoli, tomatoes and potatoes.
Consider iron supplements. If your baby was born prematurely or with a low birth weight or you’re breast-feeding after age 6 months and your baby isn’t eating two or more servings a day of iron-rich foods, such as fortified cereal or pureed meat, talk to your child’s doctor about oral iron supplements