the #1 most important food for your baby

Jessica Penner, RDBabies & Kids, Baby Health8 Comments

Since I am a nutrition nerd, I recently spent some free time calculating the amount of iron that would typically be absorbed from different foods.

Fun, right?!  

Ok, humour me a bit here.  Which food would you think is highest in iron?

  • egg yolk
  • chicken thigh
  • iron fortified infant cereal
  • beef
  • I have no idea what you’re talking about

I was surprised to find that, bite for bite, egg yolk had the highest amount of absorbable iron! I definitely thought beef was going to be the winner.  If you’ve read that post you’ll remember that iron is incredibly important for your baby.  Babies have an ENORMOUS need for iron.  I can’t emphasize this enough.

For that reason alone, I hereby dub egg yolks the #1 most important food for your baby.  But that’s not all, they’re great for more reasons than just their iron content… 

Egg yolks = great beginner texture

Texture is very important to a baby’s experience of food, as it is to adults as well.  Poached or hardboiled, egg yolks blend nicely into a nice, smooth puree that baby will love.

You don’t even need a fancy pants blender to get the right texture. Just mix the cooked egg yolks with some breastmilk or formula and voila, you’ve just made baby’s first breakfast!

What About Egg Whites?

Babies can eat egg whites after 6 months, since there’s no longer a recommendation to hold off for allergy prevention.  However, it’s still a good idea to hold off on the whites because…

  • They don’t contain any iron
  • They have proteins that actually prevent iron absorption
  • They don’t mash up into a puree as well as egg yolks do

Coming up, I’ll show you my simple way of cooking up an egg yolk in the microwave for your baby.  Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter to be updated with helpful recipes and articles.

What are you planning on giving your infant as their first food?

1 yolk (17 g) = 0.75 mg iron (heme and non-heme)


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8 Comments on “the #1 most important food for your baby”

    1. Good question! When the recommendations were set in 2001, it wasn’t common for parents to feed their children the more absorbable forms of iron such as egg yolks or meat. So the amount of 11mg/day was set based on the assumption that babies aged 7-12 months would mainly be consuming iron entirely from cereals and vegetables.

  1. My kids are well past the age of baby food, but when they were babies I used to boil eggs, mash the yolk into their baby cereal, and eat the whites myself. Win-win! 🙂 Thanks for all the great info on this site. I am looking forward to reading more.

    1. That’s exactly what I do too Miriam! No point in wasting food 🙂 I usually also add a nut or seed butter or sometimes a bit of fruit puree. Thanks for connecting.

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