Babies Need Iron

May 11, 2011

Body

Iron is among the most important nutrients babies can receive. Before birth, lots of iron is stored in the liver and that iron, along with the iron in breast milk, meets a newborn's needs for making new blood cells after they are born. The big question is: "When do babies who are being breastfed need extra iron?" We know that even though breast milk has iron, it isn't enough to meet all an infant's needs throughout the first year of life.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a new statement saying that all breastfed babies should receive iron drops beginning at 4 months of age. Since these babies should also be getting vitamin D drops, one can use a baby multivitamin with iron to cover both OR separately give the vitamin D and iron.

Babies who are born at less than 2,500 grams (about 5 pounds, 8 ounces) and are breastfed need the iron drops when they go home or even sooner (along with the vitamin D!).

The AAP also wants to make sure that babies are getting iron with their solid foods when these are introduced. Meat containing baby foods are great to introduce early, as are iron-fortified cereals. At one year of age, all babies should be tested to make sure they aren't anemic. If they are anemic, they should get treated promptly.

Your baby's brain depends on this!

We know that iron deficiency in early life causes long-term developmental problems. So, talk to your pediatrician, and, if your baby is being breastfed, begin iron drops at 4 months of age. Make sure that your baby has a good source of iron in their foods when they get started, too.

Let me know if you have other infant nutrition questions you'd like me to cover. Just leave a comment below.

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