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Thread: confused about iron

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    291

    Default confused about iron

    I have heard over and over here and other places that before one year, solids are for fun, for learning how to chew, understand textures and flavors, etc. But then I keep reading (eg here: http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyon...mins/iron.html) that after 6 months, baby's iron stores start to be depleted and that breast milk is relatively low in iron so the need to start taking it in in solids in the form of iron fortified cereal or meat.

    We started solids at 6 months as recommended and my baby is 7.5 months now. We've introduced iron-fortified oatmeal, winter squash, sweet potato, applesauce, pears, bananas, avocado, green beans, broccoli and mango. My husband and I eat mostly vegetarian diets and to be honest, I am just squeamish about cooking and pureeing meat. (As for the pureeing issue, I've read a lot about baby-led solids and we do offer her whole, non-pureed foods for some items, but with meat I think I would worry about her choking. Also, I have read that the iron in pureed meat is better absorbed than when it's in chunks.)

    I'm happy to offer her meat but I feel totally lost. Should I be doing this now? Can anyone out there hold my hand a little bit and explain in a lot of detail how they feed meat to an infant? Or is the oatmeal enough for now?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    20,782

    Default Re: confused about iron

    The advice on iron is one of those things the just drives. me. nuts. because it is so lacking in nuance. Yes, iron stores from birth generally do run out around 6 months. Yes, breastmilk does not contain an overabundance of iron, the way formula does. Nevertheless, most breastfed babies do not become anemic even if they don't get supplemental vitamins or lots of iron-rich solids. This is because breastmilk generally contains enough iron to meet a baby's needs, and the iron it has is in a form which is easily assimilated into the baby's body.

    That being said, some breastfed babies run a higher risk of becoming anemic if they don't get vitamins or iron-rich solids. These are the babies who were born premature, since iron stores are not complete until term, the ones with an innate predisposition towards anemia, and the ones whose mothers are themselves anemic and are therefore producing milk which has lower than average iron content. Moms who are vegetarian or vegan, of course, are somewhat more likely to be anemic than those who eat meat- which is not to say that vegetarians/vegans are always anemic, just that it's very easy to get enough iron when you're an omnivore and not quite as easy when you're not.

    Meats are really easy to make for babies. You don't need to purée them- meat purée sounds gross to me, too! Just roast or boil them until they are soft enough to shred, and then put the shredded bits in front of your baby. Shredded meats- like the chicken from a soup- make great starter foods. Very easy for baby to pick up, gum, and swallow. And who cares is puréed meats have iron which is easier to assimilate than whole pieces? For the average, non-anemic baby, you're only looking to offer a little supplemental iron, not to correct a problem with low iron.

    ETA: Meats are just one way to get iron into a baby. Leafy green veggies- spinach, kale, Swiss chard- beans, blackstrap molasses, and dried fruit are also great sources of iron.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Default Re: confused about iron

    Thank you mommal, this makes a lot of sense to me. I can see how she might not chew up and fully digest bits of finely shredded meat but it's not going to be a choking hazard like chunks would be. I will definitely be trying that before I puree any meat. And I think we'll stick with the oatmeal for now too since she loves it and it's easy to mix up and offer her with a fruit or veg.

    My baby was born at 38 weeks so she wasn't premature and her pediatrician doesn't treat her like she was, but between that and the fact that my iron levels do tend to run on the low side, I do worry a little that she's getting shortchanged in that department so I just want to make an effort to get some iron into her as we start solids.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    20,782

    Default Re: confused about iron

    You could always do a dropper of baby vitamins, if you're worried. That's what I did with baby #2- I was more concerned about her iron status because she had bloody poops from about 3 months onwards. I think you're right to be a little bit proactive, since your iron runs low and because your baby was "early term" instead of "term" or "late term".
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Cleveland, OH
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    486

    Default Re: confused about iron

    Baby doesn't even need to swallow the meat to get some iron. If you are comfortable with a BLS approach then you could offer a long strip of steak and let her suck on it. The first food DS went after with some real interest was a piece of flank steak, cut about 3-4 inches long. He sucked and sucked on that thing until it was dry and loved it.

    FWIW, DS had low iron at 6 months (born at 36 weeks) and we successfully increased his iron counts by adding blackstrap molasses to his diet. We mixed it in yogurt and apple sauce mostly.
    My little man was born 12/17/2010.

    Baby girl was born 4/30/2014.

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