NOTE: This post contains affiliate links of Recommended products that when you purchase any product through the link provided, I will earn a commission at a no cost which will suport my work as a blogger to produce more educative posts like this one.
Please if the recommended products don’t cause any positive change in your life, I do advice you to see your personal doctor as soon as possibe.
Iron is one of the most important minerals babies need to ensure their health.
But while it may be important, it is sometimes difficult to determine exactly how much iron babies need.
This is complicated by various factors such as premature birth, the choice of breastfeeding or formula feeding, and certain other conditions.
However, by consulting with your doctor and understanding the benefits or drawbacks of breastfeeding and formula feeding, you’ll be better able to give your baby the right amount of iron.
Breastfeeding Your Baby
Educate yourself about the iron needs of babies who are breastfed.
While the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding when possible, the AAP has also noted that breast milk alone may not supply babies with enough iron during their first year of life.
Breast milk contains very little iron.
Babies who breastfeed are at a higher risk of developing iron deficiency after four months of age than babies who are given formula.
The longer you continue to breastfeed, the more iron supplementation your baby may need.
Learn about breastfeeding and supplements.
Because breast milk contains very little iron, babies who are breastfed should be given an iron supplement.
Without some sort of iron supplement in their diet, a baby who is breastfed may become iron deficient.
Breastfeeding babies should be given 1 mg of liquid iron supplement per kilogram of body weight a day between four and six months of age.
Do not start supplementation earlier than four months.
Make sure you do not provide too much iron to your baby, or they may get iron poisoning. This can affect their heart, lungs, and liver.
Follow advised guidelines and your pediatrician’s guidance as close as you can, and do not give more iron unless you are specifically instructed to do so.
Talk to your pediatrician if you have any questions at all.
Provide iron supplements to your baby.
After learning about iron supplements, you’ll have to administer some to your baby.
While the process is fairly simple, there are some things you should consider.
Ask your pediatrician to recommend or prescribe iron supplements for your child.
Begin administering iron supplement after your baby is four months old (unless your doctor recommends earlier).
Continue providing supplements until your baby is regularly eating solid, iron-enriched foods, generally around six months.
Drop 1 mg of the supplement per kilogram of body weight into a small amount of water, breastmilk, or another liquid.
You can also use a dropper to put it directly into your baby’s mouth.
Do not exceed the recommended dose unless your doctor tells you to do so
Nursing mothers with certain dietary restrictions or problems may need to take supplements.
Ultimately, while the baby does not get much iron from breastmilk, it is still important to maintain healthy iron levels while nursing.
Women on vegan or vegetarian diets should take a B-complex supplement.
Women who have a history of iron deficiency or anemia should take iron supplements.
Consult your doctor if you have any questions about supplements you should take when breastfeeding.
Feeding Your Baby Formula or Solids
Learn about the iron needs of babies on formula.
Studies have shown that most babies need more iron than their mothers can provide through breastfeeding.
Thus, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other similar groups have endorsed providing infants with at least some iron supplementation through formula during their first months of life.
Whether your baby relies entirely on formula or relies on it as a supplement, formula should have added iron.
Most commercially available formulas contain enough iron for babies born on time and without serious medical conditions.
Consult your doctor if you have any questions about your baby’s iron needs and their formula.
Look at different formulas.
There are a wide variety of formulas available to ensure babies have enough iron in their diet.
Ultimately, though, all formula given to babies should contain iron supplements.
Formula that contains added iron may be labeled “with iron” or “iron fortified.”
Avoid low-iron formula or milk until your baby is over a year old.
Your doctor may recommend a specific formula.
Transition your baby to baby food.
Between four and six months, you’ll begin to transition your baby from breastmilk or formula to solid food.
This is an important transition, and you must continue to consider your baby’s iron needs during it.
Consider iron-fortified baby cereal.
Buy baby food fortified with iron.
Talk to your pediatrician about the iron content of baby food.
They may be able to recommend something.
Feed your baby table food
After eight months or so, you should begin the process of transitioning your baby to table food.
You’ll know if your baby is ready for table food if they are very proactive at meal time, if they play with their spoon, or if they mash or lump their food.
When transitioning to table food, feed your baby foods rich in iron like:
Poultry, beef, pork, chicken, or fish
Lentils, beans, or tofu
Iron-fortified baby cereal
Baby food fortified with iron.
Consulting Your Doctor
Monitor your iron levels during pregnancy.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to make sure your baby has enough iron is to make sure they get it while in the womb.
This is important, as babies acquire all the iron they need for the first four months of life while in the womb.
Have your doctor check your iron levels while you are pregnant.
Be specially cognizant of your iron levels if you are anemic, have other blood diseases, or are on a vegan or vegetarian diet.
Take iron supplements if your levels are low.
Stay proactive about monitoring your own health during pregnancy.
If you’re not healthy, your baby won’t get everything they need before birth.
Ask your pediatrician about iron levels in newborn babies.
Based on factors unique to your baby, your pediatrician will make recommendations about how you should maintain healthy iron levels for your baby.
In the end, your pediatrician has the substantial experience needed to determine your baby’s iron needs.
If you are concerned about iron levels, ask your pediatrician.
For instance, say “since my baby was about two weeks premature, does she need iron supplements?”
Healthy babies born full-term already have enough iron for the first four months after birth.
Babies born premature may need iron supplements during the first four months after birth.
Schedule follow-up visits.
If your doctor is concerned about your child’s iron levels for some reason, they’ll recommend follow up visits.
These visits will allow them to keep a closer eye on your baby.
Your doctor will recommend frequent follow-ups if:
Your baby is born premature.
Your baby is anemic or has a similar blood disorder.
You choose to breastfeed and you are anemic, iron-deficient, or are on a special (restrictive) diet.
Regardless of whether your baby has a blood-related condition, was premature, or was born healthy and full-term, your doctor will recommend diagnostics to monitor the overall health of your baby – including their iron levels.
Doctors will run blood panels on your baby if there are any special circumstances, like premature birth.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends screening all babies at 12 months for iron deficiency and anemia.
Look for symptoms of iron deficiency.
Iron deficiency in babies often manifests as anemia, a condition where red blood cells can’t provide enough oxygen to the baby’s body.
Anemia can be a life-threatening condition if not treated properly.
Signs of iron deficiency related anemia include:
- Excessive tiredness
- Rapid heartbeat
- Decreased appetite
- Swollen tongue
- Brittle nails.