Iron deficiency is a greater risk among very young children: Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta, reveal that 9 percent of toddlers between the ages of 1 and 2 are deficient in iron. That figure drops to about 3 percent for kids 3 to 5 and 2 percent for 6- to 11-year-olds. Toddlers can certainly get plenty of iron from their diet without consuming red meat -- good news, because many are natural vegetarians and meat can be hard for young children to chew, says Kathleen Zelman, M.P.H., a registered dietitian and Atlanta-based spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Though red meat contains an easily absorbed form of iron, your toddler can meet his mineral needs by eating fortified cereals and breads, dried fruits such as raisins, spinach, molasses, beans, lentils, eggs, certain fish, and the dark meat of poultry.
Kids under 10 should get at least ten milligrams of iron daily -- an amount that is easily fulfilled with one cup of Cheerios (eight milligrams) and two small boxes of raisins (two milligrams). If you still think your child isn't getting enough, talk with your pediatrician about a multivitamin supplement with iron.