The need for iron in babies and children

The need for iron in babies and children
The need for iron in babies and children

Children's diets must be varied and as complete as possible in order to provide them with the nutrients they need to grow well. Iron is one of these essential elements.


Why iron?

It is that iron is used to make hemoglobin which in turn is used to transport oxygen in the blood. Iron deficiency causes anemia, i.e. the various organs and muscles do not have enough oxygen to function normally. The constantly developing brains of babies and children therefore suffer directly from an iron deficiency.

Deficiency Symptoms

  • Baby gains little or no weight
  • Her skin is paler than her normal complexion
  • Baby is not hungry, refuses to eat or drink
  • Baby is less active than before
  • Baby whines, cries and is irritable for no apparent reason
  • Older children show fatigue, concentration problems and general weakness.

Iron needs

Breastfed babies: Breast milk is enough to provide the amount of iron he needs until the age of 6 months, provided of course that his mother has a feedbalanced.

Formula-fed babies: It is important to choose an iron-enriched formula to meet their needs for up to 1 year.

Daily iron needs by child's age
7 to 12 months 11mg
12 to 36 months 7mg
4 to 8 years 10mg
9 to 13 years old 8mg
Source: He alth Canada

Iron in the diet

There are two types of iron:

  • heme iron found in meat is more easily absorbed by the body;
  • non-heme iron that comes from legumes, vegetables and grains.

MeatIron is found in all red and white meats (beef, lamb, pork, veal, liver, chicken, turkey) and fish.

Grain ProductsChoose iron-fortified cereals, wholemeal bread, fortified bread, pasta and rice. The nutrient label will tell you.

LegumesChickpeas, lentils, peas and dried beans contain iron.

VegetablesIt is mainly green vegetables that contain iron: spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green peas, beans, etc.

Dried fruitsDried prunes, raisins and figs also contain iron.

To know

  • The need for iron is 1.8 times greaterhigh among vegetarians;
  • Premature babies should receive iron supplements from 8 weeks of age until their first birthday;
  • Taking too much iron can be dangerous. It is important to consult a doctor before giving baby any supplements;
  • Vitamin C promotes the absorption of non-heme iron. It is therefore recommended to combine in a meal foods rich in vitamin C and iron;
  • Children can be temporarily anemic when they carry a virus or suffer from chronic inflammation. The virus slows the body's ability to produce hemoglobin.

See our article Nutrition in Baby's First Year for more information on the subject.

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