For babies and kids healthy Hemoglobin (HGB) level is 12 to 16 unit. In one-year-old babies, milk alone (Whether mother’s milk or cow milk) is not sufficient to maintain this level and if you will not start giving your babies other foods besides milk, your baby can develop deficiency of Iron and other nutrient. This deficiency can cause several problems like- improper growth of child, irritation , lack of attention and tiredness etc.
When it comes to how much iron children need, it is different at every age.
- When an infant is breastfeeding, he or she will get their iron from their mom. When they are around 4 to 6 months old they should begin consuming iron fortified cereal. If the infant is not being breastfed they should be on a formula that is iron fortified.
- From 7 to 12 months of age, infants need 11 milligrams each day of iron.
- Children up to 4 years of age need 7 milligrams of iron every day and kids from 4 to 8 years of age need 10 milligrams. When kids get closer to the teen years, from 9 to 13, they need around 8 milligrams every day.
- Boys older than 13 will need to have about 11 milligrams of iron every day and girls will need 15 because of their menstrual cycle.
- If your young teen is involved in intense sports or exercise on a regular basis, they may need more iron.
For non vegetarian families, meat and chicken are good source of Iron that can be absorbed easily by our body. If HGB is too low (6-7 Unit) Iron supplement with the recommendation of Doctor to be given to child.
Start giving balanced diet to your babies as old as one year to avoid any type of deficiency. Instead of giving more milk try to give your baby fruits, vegetables, meat, pulses, nuts etc. 700 ml milk is adequate for babies eating other food too.
Your child may become anemic if his or her body:
- Does not produce enough red blood cells. This can happen if she does not have enough iron or other nutrients in her diet (e.g. iron-deficiency anemia).
2. Destroys too many red blood cells. This type of anaemia usually happens when a child has an underlying illness or has inherited a red blood cell disorder (e.g. sickle-cell anemia).
3. Loses red blood cells through bleeding. This can either be obvious blood loss, such as heavy menstrual bleeding, or long-term low-grade blood loss, perhaps in the stool.
What are the common signs and symptoms of anemia?
Pale, gray, or “ashy” skin (also, the lining of the eyelids and the nail beds may look less pink than normal)
Children experiencing red blood cell destruction may become jaundiced (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
Children with severe anemia may have additional signs and symptoms:
Shortness of breath
Rapid heart rate
Swollen hands and feet
Children with anemia caused by very low levels of iron in their blood may also eat strange things such as ice, dirt, clay, and cornstarch. This behavior is called “pica” (pronounced pie-kuh). It is not harmful unless your child eats something toxic, such as lead paint chips. Usually the pica stops after the anemia is treated and as the child grows older.
If your child shows any of these signs or symptoms, please see your pediatrician. Even a low-level of anemia can affect your child’s energy, focus, and ability to learn. Chronic iron deficiency anemia can result in long-term, permanent impairment of development. In most cases, a simple blood count can diagnose anemia.
One more important information about Iron deficiency is that don’t give more calcium as it blocks iron absorption in our body. Give citrus fruits like Oranges which helps in increasing iron absorption by our body.
So please don’t live in fool’s paradise thinking milk alone is sufficient for growing babies! No, it’s not! Develop their habit to eat with you, even if you have to force them initially.
Disclaimer: The above article is only for information to help parents understand importance of iron in food of babies. Only Doctors are qualified to diagnose and treat. I am not a Doctor. Information I collected based on my personal experience and various medical websites for spreading awareness.