Last Updated on April 10, 2023 by Tabraiz
As a parent, the health of your baby is probably one of your top concerns. There are many nutrients that your growing baby needs to develop properly and have a strong immune system. Iron is one of these nutrients, and it is also one that babies can be deficient in. Understanding why it is important and where to find it helps you determine if you need to give baby iron drops or if he or she is getting enough via food.
One of the essential functions of iron is energy metabolism. Every cell in the body needs energy, and iron plays a role. Iron also helps with the transfer of oxygen from the lungs to the muscles and the rest of the body. That is why iron is one of the main components of blood.
Growth & Development
Both energy and oxygen are necessary for growth and development. Because young kids develop significantly in the first few years of life, iron is essential. A deficiency in iron has numerous unwanted consequences, such as physical, behavioral, and cognitive developmental delays.
Symptoms of Iron Deficiency
If you are wondering if your baby has adequate levels of iron in the blood, there are some signs of deficiency you can be on the lookout for. These symptoms and signs include:
- Constant fatigue
- Skin that is paler than normal
- Delayed development and growth
- Reduced appetite
- Abnormal or difficulty breathing
- Recurrent illnesses
If you notice that your child has some or all of these symptoms, there is a good chance your baby is not getting enough iron. In fact, even if you think your baby is getting enough nutrients, you may be incorrect. For example, many think that multivitamin drops for toddlers contain iron, but they do not.
Best Sources for Iron
The best sources for iron depend on the age of the baby. For newborns, there is usually enough iron in mom’s breast milk for the first four to six months. However, after that point, the baby’s need for iron outweighs the amount found in breast milk. Even in the early months, mothers who are anemic may not be able to produce enough iron to transfer to baby. If iron deficiency is a concern in the early months, iron drops are a good option. If you are wondering how to give baby iron drops, do not worry, because it is pretty easy.
Once your baby starts to eat solid food, there are various food sources of iron. Some are meat-based, while others are plant-based. Iron from meat is absorbed quicker, but it is a good idea to feed your baby a wide variety. Some common sources include:
- Egg yolks
- Poultry and red meat
- Beans and rice
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Dried fruits
Seafood and peanut butter are also good sources of iron. However, some babies are allergic to them, so introduce slowly and observe for allergic symptoms.
Iron is extremely important for your baby’s health and development. Keep an eye out for deficiency symptoms, and use food to make sure your baby has adequate levels
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