My toddler doesn’t eat or like red meat. Are they getting enough iron or protein and should I be concerned?

My toddler doesn’t eat or like red meat. Are they getting enough iron or protein and should I be concerned?

This post is contributed by mum and nutritionist Mandy from Little People Nutrition.

Toddler town is a tricky time and often a period of picky or fussy eating. Because of this, parents are often very concerned about what their children are eating which I completely understand and relate with being a mum of three.

One of my favourite pieces of nutritional advice for families is about variety.

To include a variety of foods into their families’ and children’s diets.

Why? Because as you can see by the little chart below, we obtain our macronutrients (like protein) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals like iron) from such a wide range of foods.

My toddler doesn’t eat or like red meat. Are they getting enough iron or protein and should I be concerned?

As you can see from the above table, if you were concerned that your child was not getting enough red meat and therefore were worried about iron, there are many other foods that they can obtain iron from.

One of the food groups people often ignore as a source of iron is cereals and grains as well as nuts and legumes. Both are two ways you can get some iron into your child’s diet.

As you can see though from the little table, based on the fact that a toddler should be getting around 9mg per day in iron and 14g of protein per day, it is harder to achieve an optimal iron status than a protein status (hence why I don’t often support protein powders or shakes for otherwise healthy people). Therefore protein isn’t ever really of concern.

Iron on the other hand, for many members of the community, can be of concern. That is why the Australian Dietary Guidelines suggest for little ones:

  1. Introduce iron rich foods from 6 months
  2. Include a variety of foods from different food groups
  3. Reduce the reliance of milk (not breast milk) as a ‘food’ from 12 months. It becomes a beverage and complimentary to other foods.

Please note that the comment on milk is not in regards to breast milk. It is on cow’s milk as as you can see from the chart there is no iron present in cow’s milk. Excessive milk consumption has been linked to iron deficiency in little ones when over 600ml per day is drunk.

So if your little one does not eat red meat, should you be concerned? NO!

But like always, if red meat is a family food in your family, then continue to introduce and place it on their plate when you are all eating it. Because seriously, we never truly understand why our littlies’ say no. Basically just because they want to!

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