Science shows that breastfeeding your baby can provide a variety of benefits. From providing essential nutrition to protecting against common childhood infections, breastfeeding is a wonderful option for those who can do it. But breastmilk is not a magical concoction, and you may still need to supplement your baby’s nutritional needs if they aren’t getting everything from your milk.
Iron is one of the more common nutrient deficiencies experienced by infants and young children. Many mothers think their babies get enough iron from breast milk, but this may not be the case. If your little one shows signs of iron deficiency, you can supplement babies with iron. Here’s what to know about the benefits of iron for breastfed babies.
Does a Mother's Breastmilk Contain Enough Iron
A mother’s breastmilk contains many nutrients. But when it comes to iron in breastmilk, there’s very little of it. Therefore, iron supplementation may be advised if your baby is only consuming breast milk. So, if you were anemic during your pregnancy, you must take special care to ensure your baby gets enough iron in their diet.
Some women wonder, “Can iron deficiency in pregnancy affect baby growth?” The answer to this question is “Yes.” Anemia during pregnancy can also increase your likelihood of delivering a premature baby. To prevent this from happening, it’s essential to watch for symptoms of anemia during pregnancy and treat them as soon as possible. Here are some symptoms you may be anemic:
- Shortness of breath
- Dry, pale skin
- Fast heartbeat
- Sore tongue
- Weakness or dizziness
- Restless leg syndrome
Your doctor may treat your pregnancy anemia with an iron supplement or prenatal vitamin. In cases of severe anemia, a blood transfusion may be required.
Do Babies Need Extra Iron
Babies may need extra iron if they aren’t getting enough from breast milk. Here are a few symptoms your baby may need more iron:
- Poor feeding or getting tired quickly while feeding
- Rapid heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Pale skin
- Low energy
If your baby is experiencing any of these symptoms, seeing your pediatrician is essential. In cases of severe anemia, prompt tests and interventions may be required. But if your baby’s anemia symptoms are mild, you may be able to treat them with iron supplementation. Wellements Organic Iron Drops is a gentle iron supplement safe for infants and toddlers.
How Much Iron Does a Baby Need
Babies need sufficient iron, but you should be careful not to give them too much. Infants aged four months to 12 months should get about 11 mg of iron daily. Once they reach 12 months to 3 years old, they only need about 7 mg daily. Then, between the ages of 4-8, their iron needs jump to about 10 mg per day.
Benefits of Iron for Babies Being Breastfed
Feeding your baby iron-rich foods and providing iron supplementation as needed can benefit their health. Iron can prevent fatigue related to anemia and improve digestion. It can also boost immune function so your little one isn’t so susceptible to the germs that cause illnesses.
Risks of Additional Iron
As crucial as adequate iron is for infant health, it can also be harmful in excessive amounts. Too much iron can lead to constipation and stomach upset. It can also cause inflammation of the stomach lining and reduce zinc absorption. Iron poisoning in children can cause severe injury or even death. If you think your child is experiencing iron poisoning, seek immediate emergency care. Always keep iron supplements and medications out of reach of children.