How to prevent and cure Iron deficiency in Babies and Toddlers? 

Iron deficiency in babies is a cause of major concern for mothers because Iron is a very important mineral for baby’s proper growth especially brain development.
The role of iron is also to carry oxygen in our body.

Anemia is very common among babies though and can be treated easily with iron syrups but in this article we will look into preventive methods as well as home remedies.

Cause of Iron deficiency in babies:

Babies start beginning to lose their iron reserves from the age of 6 months. This is when parents need to start giving them iron-rich food as their daily requirement becomes 11 mg per day and babies can not get it alone from breast milk. But what happens is most babies are picky eaters, they do not eat well or parents fail to give them nutritious diet which leads to anemia. Too much cow milk can also cause anemia in kids. (Breast milk doesn’t interfere with tje absorption of iron.)

Important things about iron:

1. Iron is best absorbed on an empty stomach. Give iron rich meal first thing in the morning.

2. Iron is of two types: heme and non heme.

Heme-iron is iron present in plant based sources. For eg. : Cashews.

Non heme iron is iron from animal sources. For eg. : liver

Our body absorbs non heme iron much easily than heme iron.

3. Vitamin C aids in absorption of Iron. So, always give any Vitamin C(orange, kiwi etc) rich food along with iron foods for optimum absorption.

4. Calcium hinders iron absorption. That means if you give your baby a cup of milk with dates, your baby’s body will not be able to absorb the iron from dates. This is very important point and must be remembered by all parents. Give a gap of atleast 2 hours between iron and calcium foods and supplements.

Symptoms of Iron deficiency in babies :

1. Good doctors would order a blood test around 9 months to check for anemia by looking at the symptoms.

2. Parents should also look out for these signs:

1. Pale skin. Check their face, lips, eyes, palms to see how red or yellow they are. The redder, the better. It is the easiest way to check if babies iron levels are normal or not.

2. Fatigue. Shortness of breath. Getting tired easily.

3. Crankiness.

4. Headaches.

5. Inability to focus or concentrate.

6. Drowsiness or too much sleeping.

Cure:

1. Syrups are available and are prescribed by doctors. And please remember that Iron supplements should be given to kids only with doctor’s prescription in correct dosage as TOO MUCH IRON CAN BE DANGEROUS FOR BABIES.

2. Try different methods if baby refuses to take the medicine. Syringe, dropper, cup, spoon or mixed in his food.

Prevention of Anemia in babies:

Regular consumption of iron rich foods will prevent occurence of anemia in kids.

Iron rich food sources:

1. Liver (Chicken liver being the richest)
2. Red meat. Beef and mutton.
3. Eggs

4. Dried figs
5. Dried Apricot
6. Prunes
7. Raisins
8. Dates
(The above dried fruits can be soaked in water for few hours or overnight and must be consumed first thing in the morning for optimum absorption of iron.)

Note: The darker the dates and raisins are the richer they are in iron. Black dates/raisins have more iron than the brown ones.

9. Cashews
(Soak them for 10 mins. Grind them. It makes a very tasty paste and toddlers love eating it.)
10. Pistachios

10. Finger Millet(Ragi)
12. Oats
( Above two make for great breakfast).

13. Lentils
14. Horse gram (kulthi)

15. Spinach
16. Beetroot

17. Pumpkin seeds
18. Sunflower seeds
19. Sesame seeds
20. Jaggery (Add Jaggery to Ragi or any other meal)

Note: All whole grains are good sources of iron. (Eg. : Brown rice)

Vitamic C foods:

Orange
Kiwi
Mango
Lemon

Our body can absorb only a little amount of iron at a time. Thats why it’s important to give toddlers 2-3 iron rich snacks everyday.

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