Iron is a mineral that babies and children need for good health and development.
Iron is a nutrient that's essential to your child's growth and development, but some kids don't have enough. Find out what causes iron deficiency in children, how to recognize it and how to prevent it.
Iron helps move oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body and helps muscles store and use oxygen. If your child's diet lacks iron, he or she might develop a condition called iron deficiency.
Too little iron can impair your child's ability to function well. However, most signs and symptoms of iron deficiency in children don't appear until iron deficiency anemia occurs. If your child has risk factors for iron deficiency, talk to his or her doctor.
Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency anemia might include:
· Pale skin
· Cold hands and feet
· Slowed growth and development
· Poor appetite
· Abnormally rapid breathing
· Behavioral problems
· Frequent infections
· Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt, paint or starch
Hereby below the best recommendations to avoid iron deficiency for kids:
- Full-term infants. Start giving your baby an iron supplement at age 4 months. Continue giving your baby the supplement until he or she is eating two or more servings a day of iron-rich foods, such as iron-fortified cereal or pureed meat. If you breast-feed and give your baby iron-fortified formula and the majority of your baby's feedings are from formula, stop giving your baby the supplement.
- Premature infants. Start giving your baby an iron supplement at age 2 weeks. Continue giving your baby the supplement until age 1. If you breast-feed and give your baby fortified formula and the majority of your baby's feedings are from formula, stop giving your baby the supplement.
- Other steps you can take to prevent iron deficiency include:
- Serve iron-rich foods. When you begin serving your baby solids — typically between ages 4 months and 6 months — provide foods with added iron, such as iron-fortified baby cereal, pureed meats and pureed beans. For older children, good sources of iron include red meat, chicken, fish, beans and spinach.
- Don't overdo milk. Between ages 1 and 5, don't allow your child to drink more than 24 ounces (710 milliliters) of milk a day.
- Enhancing absorption. Vitamin C helps promote the absorption of dietary iron. You can help your child absorb iron by offering foods rich in vitamin C — such as citrus fruits, cantaloupe, strawberries, bell pepper, tomatoes and dark green vegetables.