How Much Iron Does a Toddler Need?

high iron food for kids


Ask Amanda Question for this week: My 22 month old toddler does not eat much meat.  He takes a multivitamin supplement with iron, but does he need a separate iron supplement?

He is likely getting enough iron between his diet and his multivitamin with iron.  Many toddlers don’t eat much meat and often get the iron they need from other foods.

Iron comes from “heme” sources or animal sources like meat, seafood and eggs.  Iron also comes from “non-heme” sources including fortified breakfast cereals and grains, oatmeal, breads, green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, nut butters and dried fruit.  

Children ages 1-3 need 7 mg of iron a day.  

What does 7 mg of iron a day looks like? Here’s an example:  ¾ cup of Cheerios, 1 egg, 1 slice of bread with peanut butter, ½ cup of cooked rice with canned tomato sauce and 2 oz of cut up chicken.

Low iron levels in toddlers and kids can cause low energy levels, fatigue, and poor appetite.  If you are concerned about any of these symptoms or that your child may have low iron levels, check with your doctor to see if a blood test is needed. If iron levels are low and your child is recommended to take an iron supplement, make sure to recheck with your doctor within 3 months. Iron stores in kids replete quickly and iron supplementation is often not needed for the long term.

Ask the Dietitian, a weekly column from Feed to Succeed dietitian Amanda Gordon (2016-2022).