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How to Add Iron to Your Toddler’s Diet (without Pills)

How to Add Iron to Your Toddler’s Diet (without Pills)

By: Brittany Moran


There are so many moms who struggle with getting their baby or toddler’s body to properly absorb iron. You may feed them all the right foods that the doctor recommends, but still find that they test low for iron. What most moms do not know is that doctors only take one, maybe two nutritional classes in school. That means they learn very little about how diet impacts nutrition. Instead they are taught to give iron supplements to help your little one avoid anemia. The human body usually only absorbs 10-30% of any supplement. Even the brands that are USP certified still have low absorption rates. In order the body to properly ABSORB iron, it needs certain foods in combination.

Iron to Your Toddlers Diet


Types of Iron
There are two types of iron – heme and non-heme.

Heme is from animal products, non-heme from plant based.
Absorption of Iron

In my opinion, and lots of research will back me up, non-heme is most naturally absorbed in the body.

Non-heme will best absorb when used in combination rather than eaten alone.

Here is a little rule of thumb:

iron + vitamin C = :-)

iron + calcium = :-(


Iron is best absorbed when combined with vitamin C and is blocked from being absorbed with certain types of calcium.
Sources of Iron + Vitamin C

These sources of vegan iron, when combined with Vitamin C, have a HIGHER iron absorption than ANY meat source:

  • Lentils
  • Spinach
  • Chickpeas
  • Chard
  • Broccoli

These sources of vitamin c have HIGHER amounts than an orange:

  • Red bell peppers
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower


Recipe Ideas

I make my daughter a soup each week… I make it on Sundays. You could also make this into a rice dish when the kids get older and chop the veggies instead of puree.

I freeze 1/2 and thaw on Thur, and the other 1/2 is served Sun – Wed. YES, it is expensive and time consuming, but I feel it is worth it. I am a stickler about all organic. She eats this soup at least 1 time a day:

– 1/8 Red Onion

– 1 clove Garlic

– 3 heaping teaspoons of Sprouted Lentils

– 3 heaping teaspoons of Split Peas

– 1/4 Red Bell Pepper

– 2 handfuls of Broccoli

– Equal part of Cauliflower

– 1 small potato

– 1/2 small sweet potato

– 2 Tomatoes (seeds removed)

– 1 Zucchini

– 1 Carrot

– 1 cup Fresh spinach (added raw when time to blend)

– 2 heaping tablespoons of Nutritional Yeast (added when time to blend)
I chop all the veggies and add them to a pot with about 1 cup of water. You can add whatever spices you enjoy, but I put in a bit of kosher salt, paprika, and tumeric. I let them boil until soft (I add the spinach and yeast later) which usually takes about 20 minutes on a low temp. I may need to add additional water sometimes.
Once soft, I put all the veggies in the blender along with the “juice” they were boiling in. I then add the spinach and yeast and blend.

This soup is properly balanced to help balance an alkaline body. It also includes proteins and aminos and many other wonderful things the body needs to thrive.


Snack Ideas

  • Goji Berries
  • Bell peppers with hummus
  • ORGANIC soy beans
  • Oatmeal (no milk) add blueberries or strawberries. Bonus – crush cashews into tiny pieces with a hammer (in a baggie) soak them in water overnight and add into oatmeal. Soaked nuts have more heath benefits than raw.


There are so many more tips I could share about diet, and hope this will at least help your little one with iron and iron absorption. If you would like more ideas for snacks or recipes, comment below with your child’s favorite food and I will try to find a way to pair it properly for optimal iron absorption.

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