My youngest child, whose diet consisted of about 60 - 70% breast milk and 30 - 40% solid foods, was iron deficient at one year of age. He ate a pretty varied diet, but he did not eat enough of any food to consume the amount of iron that was needed to raise his iron levels or iron store. His iron level was around six, and within 6 months I was able to raise his iron level to just over 12 by taking the following steps:
1) Any liquids that my son consumed, other than water, were scalded in a cast iron pan, even expressed breastmilk. Cooking food in cast iron cookware is known to increase the iron levels of certain foods. Scalded liquids were then served at their normal temperature. If your child drinks orange juice, or other acidic juice high in vitamin C , these are ideal for increasing the body's absorption iron.
2) I added iron fortified infant oat cereal to yogurt, I also squeezed the juice of a quarter of a lemon into the mixture to increase the absorption of iron by the body. Since your son likes peanut butter, you can easily add iron fortified infant cereal to the paste and he wouldn't likely notice. Consider spritzing the jelly with fresh lemon juice or orange juice before closing the sandwich.
I also added the infant cereal to any food possible; pasta sauce, milk, apple sauce, etc. Not a enough to change the texture, but just enough to add additional iron to everything consumed. I also spritzed every food that I could with fresh lemon, lime or orange juice.
3) I cooked as much of his food as possible in cast iron cookware, and I definitely warmed my son's food in cast iron cookware instead of using the microwave.
4) I cooked liver (in cast iron) and then grated the meat over savory dishes. One container of liver lasted close to a month. I froze the meat, only cooking one piece at a time that I would just for 3 to 5 days. I used a Microplane to finely grate the meat. You can also easily add liver to pub & j. Don't use a lot, you don't want the sandwich to taste like meat, but you want added nutrients.
Things to Consider
The cheeses melts easier this way than adding the shreds directly to the pasta and cooking until melted. For added iron, boil your pasta, and melt make the cheese sauce in cast iron cookware.
2) Cook everything possible in cast iron cookware. Acidic sauces are ideal. The longer the food is in the pot during cooking, the higher the iron transfer. Consider turning down the temperature and cooking your food low and slow to increase the amount of time that the food is in the pot or pan.
3) Dried Prunes and dried apricots are also good for increasing iron, consider adding those to your son's diet.
4) Continue to offer iron rich green vegetables with each meal. Don't force your son to eat them, just offer. Make a game of it. Challenge him to see who can eat a tablespoonful first, because a tablespoon is just a little less than what he needs, but it is a great start to introducing foods that he might not like.
I was hesitant to use an iron supplement, because they all seemed to contain ingredients that weren't clean. Talking with my pharmacist reassured me that the iron in infant cereal was a great alternative.
Keep in mind that you want to add incremental amounts of iron to your son's diet. Think about what you add over the course of a day, and a week, and a month. Don't fixate on each meal. Good luck, and always consider consulting a pediatric nutritionist if you have any concerns.
Once upon a time I blogged my son's meal's, here is a link if you would like a tiny bit of inspiration.
Also, I receive a small commission if you purchase anything trough the amazon links posted above.
Cooking in Cast Iron
I used a small skillet when cooking my son's foods separately or when scalding breastmilk or other liquids to drink. You want to expose as much of te surface of the foods to the pot as possible.
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