Iron Needs for Babies
Meeting the needs of iron for babies is very important to support their health and development. Until now, iron deficiency in infants is still one of the most common nutritional problems in the world. Without enough iron, babies can experience anemia and impaired growth and development.
Iron plays an important role in the formation of hemoglobin, which is a component of red blood cells that function to carry oxygen throughout the body. Without enough iron, the body cannot form hemoglobin. As a result, the body’s tissues and organs can experience lack of oxygen.
There are several factors that can increase your risk of an iron deficiency baby, namely:
Born to anemic mothers during pregnancy.
Born prematurely or having a low birth weight.
Babies get breast milk from mothers who are iron deficient.
Absorption of iron is disrupted.
Babies drink iron-fortified formula milk (enriched).
Iron deficiency in infants and children can cause anemia, a condition in which the body lacks red blood cells. If not treated immediately, this condition can cause various health problems and disrupt the growth and development of children.
Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency in Infants
Not only in the formation of hemoglobin and red blood cells, iron also has an important role to support the growth and function of the baby’s nerves and brain.
Therefore, iron deficiency in infants can cause them to experience developmental disorders and learning and language difficulties.
In addition, there are several other signs and symptoms that can be experienced by a baby if he is deficient in iron, namely:
Weight does not increase or it is difficult to rise.
Weak and lethargic.
Looks less active or rarely want to play.
Swollen or swollen tongue.
Having a weak immune system or frequent infections.
Iron Needs in Infants
At birth, babies have a reserve of iron derived from maternal blood. Therefore, mother’s food and nutritional intake during pregnancy are important for the adequacy of the baby’s iron.
In the first six months of life, babies will get iron from breast milk. After six months, breast milk alone is not enough to meet the baby’s nutrition. Therefore, at this age babies need extra iron from solid foods (MPASI).
The following are iron requirements for babies according to their age:
Ages 0-6 months need 0.3 mg of iron per day (fulfilled through exclusive breastfeeding).
Ages 7-11 months need 7-11 mg of iron per day.
Ages 1-3 years (toddlers) need 7 mg of iron per day.
To meet the needs of iron, mothers can provide food from foods that are rich in iron, such as:
Beef, goat, chicken or fish.
Chicken liver or beef liver.
Vegetables, like spinach, keciwis, broccoli.
Beans, such as kidney beans and soybeans.
Tofu and tempeh.
Iron fortified cereals.
The best iron comes from animal food sources because it is more easily absorbed by the body. But if you can’t give animals iron, green leafy vegetables that contain lots of iron can also be an option.
Tips for Meeting Your Iron Needs in Babies
To meet the needs of iron in infants, the following are things that need attention:
Give foods that contain vitamin C
Foods that are rich in vitamin C, such as tomatoes, papaya, guava, and oranges, are good to be given along with solids containing iron. This is because vitamin C can increase the absorption of iron by the body.
Limit milk supply as a source of iron intake
Milk does contain nutrients, but is not a good source of iron. Don’t give cow’s milk before Little One is 1 year old because it will be difficult to digest. If given after 1 year of age, the portion also needs to be limited, which is no more than 700 ml per day, and try to choose iron-fortified milk.
Avoid giving MPASI containing iron with milk
Providing foods containing iron should not be accompanied by drinking milk or cow tea. High calcium content in milk can inhibit the absorption of iron from MPASI. While tea contains tannin which can also inhibit iron absorption. The solution, give cow’s milk or tea outside the main meal time.
Give iron supplements
If it is lacking, iron for babies can be obtained through supplements. Iron supplements are also recommended to be given to babies born prematurely or born to mothers who suffer from anemia during pregnancy.
However, iron supplements for babies must be based on a prescription from a pediatrician.
Because iron for babies is one of the essential nutrients for health and growth and development, mothers need to ensure adequate iron intake. If your child is at risk of experiencing iron deficiency, for example due to difficulty eating (food chooser), try consulting with a pediatrician.