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Iron Needs of Babies and Children

Iron is essential to your child’s body and mind growth. It helps in carrying out oxygen in your infant. Your child may feel trouble with movement or extremely tired without enough iron. It is the most common micronutrient for your child, which leads to rapid growth. Deficiency of iron is associated with various risk factors in children, including low birth weight, low intake of iron-rich food, low socioeconomic status, and immigrant status. Therefore, iron drops for babies’ dosage are recommended by many health experts to fulfil the need for iron in babies. 

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency

Iron is needed to develop children’s and babies’ brains naturally. Children and babies who don’t get sufficient iron may develop more slowly and be less physically active. Besides, they might show the following symptoms due to iron deficiency:

  • Pale/Yellowish skin
  • Loss of appetite/No appetite
  • Slow weight gain/Rapid weight loss
  • Remain often cranky or fussy
  • Increased irritability

Iron deficiency can also affect your child’s performance in school. Low levels of iron can make them feel tired, weak, and hard to concentrate. 

How much Iron does your child need?

When a baby is born, he/she is born with a reverse of iron, which comes from her mother. During the first six months of birth, breastfed babies get iron from their mother. However, the risk of developing iron deficiency can occur if we wait too long after six months to introduce iron-rich food in our baby’s diet. Therefore, if breastfeeding is not an option, iron supplements for babies are recommended for the first 12 months. 

The amount of iron needed depends on their age, and here are recommendations of a person’s daily iron needs. 

AgeAmount of iron per day (RDA)
7 to 12 months11 mg
1 to 3 years7 mg
4 to 8 years10 mg
9 to 13 years8 mg
14 to 18 years11 mg (for boys), 15 mg (for girls)

What food are good sources of Iron?

Generally, there are two different kinds of Iron: Heme-Iron and Non-Heme Iron. 

  • Heme-Iron: They are found in meats and more easily absorbed by the body. 
  • Non-Heme Iron:  It comes from plant sources like vegetables, legumes, and cereals. 
Food with Heme-IronFood without Heme-Iron
Meats: Beef, veal, pork, lamb, liver, turkey, chicken, seal (especially liver). Legumes: Chickpeas, lentils, dried peas and beans.
Grains and cereals: Iron-fortified cereals, whole-grain bread, enriched bread, pasta and rice.Vegetables: Spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green peas, beans.

You can combine this food with good sources of Vitamin C to help the body absorb iron. Some good sources of Vitamin C are tomatoes, red peppers, and oranges. For instance, you can have cereal in your breakfast with orange slices in it. 

Should we give our children Iron Supplements?

Babies who get iron-fortified formula or are breastfed, generally do not require iron supplements. However, sometimes the baby’s body does not absorb required iron from these diets. Therefore, parents are recommended to add iron supplements for babies in their baby’s diet. 

Babies with a low birth rate need iron drops for babies’ dosage in the right amount. Unless your children who are at least one year old are eating right, don’t need an iron supplement. If you think the case is otherwise, you can consult a doctor for iron supplements recommendations.  

Guidelines to improve iron intake in children

  • You can serve citrus fruit such as orange, grapefruit, tomato with iron-containing foods to increase absorption: for instance, burgers or sandwiches can be given with orange juice to drink, orange wedges with Chicken, meat with broccoli, or meatballs and spaghetti with tomato sauce.
  • You can add beans and peas to soup. If not whole, you can add the liquid from canned beans and peas instead.
  • Sprinkle dried fruits in your kids cereal. 
  • You can add raising to hot cereals and desserts.
  • Using whole wheat flour or bran while baking.
  • Adding beef to pasta or tomato sauce.
  • Serving oatmeal to the snack. 

However, if your child refuses to eat iron-rich foods, you can always supplement his diet with the iron supplements for babies that are also recommended by health experts. 

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