Iron for your baby’s growth and development
Getting enough iron is important for a healthy, growing baby. Your baby was born with a good supply of iron, provided by Mom during a healthy pregnancy. But those initial iron reserves need to be maintained by an iron-rich diet. If not maintained, these iron stores may become depleted around the time your baby is 4 to 6 months old. That's why it's critical that your baby get the iron she needs from breastmilk, iron-fortified formula, and, eventually, solid foods.
The role of iron
Iron is important for physical growth and mental development. Iron contributes to your baby’s growth by helping to expand the number of red blood cells that help supply her baby with oxygen.
Although iron is essential throughout life, it plays a vital role during your baby’s first year. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States—most common in older infants and young children. Insufficient iron can slow your baby's growth, cause anemia and delays in motor and cognitive development, and increase lead absorption. This is why the AAP sees no role for the use of low-iron formulas in infant feeding and recommends that all formula-fed infants receive an iron-fortified formula. Contrary to popular belief, iron doesn’t cause constipation in babies, nor does it upset your baby's stomach.
Good sources of iron
- Iron-fortified formula
For babies eating solids:
- Iron-fortified infant cereal