Your baby’s need for Iron

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  • Adequate intake of Iron is important to your baby’s development.
  • All infant formulas are Iron-fortified.
  • Around the middle of the first year, introduce Iron-fortified infant cereals.

Adequate Iron intake is important to support brain development and contributes to baby’s growth. The first year of life is a crucial time for growth and development, as your baby’s birth weight triples and brain size doubles. This phenomenal growth is dependent in part on the Iron that you supply your little one, as breastmilk naturally contains iron.

Exclusively and partially breastfed babies usually begin Iron supplementation around 4 months, or as directed by your pediatrician.

Iron until two

The nutrition of Iron-rich infant cereal is an important part of baby’s diet until the age of 2. Among the foods your baby eats Iron-fortified infant cereals are the #1 source of Iron, and 2 servings of most infant cereals will usually provide about 90% of your baby’s daily Iron needs.

Iron myths: Busted

As important as Iron is to your baby, it sometimes suffers from a bad reputation. It has been blamed for a host of problems in babies—such as fussiness, constipation, and digestive upset. There’s no medical basis for the belief that Iron in Iron-fortified infant formulas causes problems. In fact, scientific research has demonstrated that Iron in your baby’s diet provides many benefits.

What happens if a baby doesn’t get enough iron?
Lack of Iron can lead to Iron deficiency or even to anemia in more severe cases. Depending upon its severity, Iron deficiency can have serious consequences. It’s responsible for a range of problems, including:

  • Slower physical growth.
  • Delayed motor skills.
  • Decreased social behavior.
  • Lower learning ability.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Digestive problems.

Avoid cow's milk

Cow’s milk is not recommended before your baby is at least a year old. Introducing whole cow’s milk into a baby’s diet too early can also result in Iron deficiency. Besides providing inadequate nutrition and a poor source of iron, cow’s milk may irritate your baby’s digestive system. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that the only acceptable alternative to breastmilk during the first year is Iron-fortified infant formula.

How was the information in this article?
Registered Dietitian

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