Iron deficiency in infants can be a cause for anemia. It can also affect your child’s healthy growth and development. Iron is a nutrient that is crucial for your child’s growth and development. Iron transports oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body while simultaneously helping the muscles to store and use oxygen. If your child’s diet does not contain iron, there are chances for him to develop a condition called iron deficiency or anemia.
In children, iron deficiency can occur at different levels – from depleted iron stores to anemia. Anemia is a condition wherein the blood lacks sufficient healthy red blood cells. As a matter of fact, iron deficiency in children can lead to physical and mental delays.
Causes of Iron Deficiency in Infants
Iron is crucial for many processes in the human body. It is the most important carrier of oxygen. Most of the iron in our body is found in hemoglobin. A developing fetus receives all iron from its mother during pregnancy. Most of the iron stores are provided to the fetus during the third trimester.
A full-term infant born from a healthy mother will have sufficient iron to support healthy growth and developmenttill the age of 4-6 months. After that, iron requires to be absorbed through the diet in the form of breast milk, solid foods, iron-fortified formula, or vitamin supplements. Most commonly, iron deficiency is caused by insufficient iron supply through diet.
Iron deficiency is usually characterized by symptoms like pale skin, lips, or hands, sleepiness or fatigue, fast heart rate, not wanting to eat, PICA (eating non-food items like paper, ice, dirt, or couch cushions).
Generally, special risk factors for iron deficiency among infants include preterm infants born before the third semester, exclusive breastfeeding beyond 4-6 months, infants born to mothers with severe anemia or diabetes, early introduction of cow’s milk or excessive cow’s milk. Cow milk is low in iron and can actually prevent iron from being absorbed from the diet. At the age of 4-6 months, the infant outgrows his/her stored iron. Since breast milk doesn’t contain iron, it is not sufficient to keep up with the fast growth of an infant. Another cause of infant iron deficiency is continued use of bottle feeding after 12 months of age.
Iron Deficiency in Infants: Home Remedies
If your child is diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia, it is wise to start iron replacement. As children can absorb only a small quantity of iron consumed through diet, it becomes crucial to give them at least 8-10mg of iron daily.
You can begin with iron-rich pureed fruits, meats, and vegetables. Furthermore, add iron-fortified baby cereal mixed with breast milk or formula once your child is above 6 months of age. Besides, there are also some home remedies that can help treat iron deficiency in your infant. Read on.
Apple-Beetroot Juice : Apple is loaded with iron along with various other health friendly components. Also, Beetroot is enriched with folic acid along with high quantities of potassium and fiber. The most nutrient rich part lies just beneath the peel. Prepare some juice with apples and beet with some honey added for extra flavor and to boost iron absorption by the body. Give this juice to your infant at least twice a day – just a few teaspoons.
Spinach : Just half a cup of spinach everyday can cure iron deficiency in adults. For infants, the quantity reduces to 2-3 tsp. This dark green leafy vegetable is loaded with vitamins A, C, E and B9, iron, fiber, beta carotene, and calcium. Include spinach in your infant’s daily diet. You can give it to your child in the form of soup, stew or spinach juice. However, make sure to boil spinach before any recipe. This is because it contains oxalic acid that interferes with absorption of iron by the body and boiling reduces the effect of oxalic acid. Read more on Health Benefits of Spinach for Babies.
Tomatoes : To cure an iron deficiency, it is not sufficient to have more iron. It is also important for your baby to absorb it also. For this, tomatoes are the best. You can give your infant tomatoes in the form of juice or also add them to stews and soups. Read more on Health Benefits of Tomatoes for Babies.
Pomegranate : Pomegranate is known as a super food for containing numerous beneficial components within it. It is loaded with carbohydrate, protein, fiber, fat, and sugar. Most importantly, it is an excellent source of calcium and iron along with minerals like copper and potassium. It notably increases the count of hemoglobin while supporting healthy blood flow. For infants, give pomegranate juice prepared from one-fourth pomegranate every morning in empty stomach. Read more on Health Benefits of Pomegranate for Babies.
Parsley : Also known as rock celery, parsley is one of the most popular culinary herbs used around the world. In addition to the various other nutrients, parsley is also loaded with iron and folic acid. It provides 5.5 mg of iron per 100 grams parsley. While adults can have it as is in salads and sandwiches, you can serve it to your infant in the form of soup, gravies, sauces, and stews. Read more on Health Benefits of Parsley for Babies.
Bottle Gourd Soup : Iron deficiency usually occurs as a result of nutritional deficiency. There are certain fruits and vegetables that help to boost the amount of iron and folic acid in the blood. After apples and beetroots bottle gourd soup is highly useful to treat iron deficiency. Daily consumption of this soup can help cure iron deficiency at a good pace. Read more on Health Benefits of Bottle Gourd for Babies.
Wrapping up, anemia is not a disease. It is good news instead. However, anemia can be an indicator of some serious illness which can be bad news. Therefore, it becomes important to check with the doctor and make sure that your infant suffers from a serious form of anemia, like sickle cell anemia, hemolytic anemia, or sideroblastic anemia. These anemia types occur because of malfunctioning of the body and can be treated only through medical interventions.
With above mentioned home remedies and dietary changes, it would become easier for you to treat your infant of iron deficiency thus providing healthy growth and development.