Did you know babies’ natural stores of iron start depleting around 4-6 months? Little ones need iron to help support healthy brain development. This is why it’s important when you start solids around this same time to start with an easy one with a good source of Iron like Gerber oatmeal.
At our last well appointment for my baby, they checked her iron level and found it to be low. Our pediatrician recommended focusing on iron rich foods and giving her an iron supplement. After heading home, I did some research and learned that there are a few risk factors for babies with low iron levels.
Risk Factors for Low Iron in Babies
1. Babies born premature.
2. Moms with gestational diabetes.
3. Babies born weighing less than 6 1/2 lbs.
4. Babies fed cow’s milk in the first year of life.
Our little Ivy had two of these. While she was over 6 1/2 lbs at birth, she was born more than a month premature due to my complications, and I had gestational diabetes during her pregnancy.
Tips for Babies with Low Iron
#1 Give an iron supplement.
You can find these online or at stores like Walmart. Liquid iron supplements can taste horrible to babies, so I looked high and low to find a good-tasting one. Ivy loves the berry-flavored iron supplement I found her.
My next stop was Walmart to start reading labels of baby food to find iron-rich foods to feed her.
#2 Single-grain Gerber infant cereal.
I found Gerber infant cereals to be a great source of iron. Just two servings of Gerber infant cereal meet 90% of your baby’s daily iron needs, and it also has Zinc, Calcium, Vitamin C, E and six B Vitamins for healthy development. It’s also non-GMO with no artificial flavors or colors, and if you pick up the one with DHA and Probiotics it’s helpful for brain and eye development and digestive health. Plus, single-grain infant cereals like Gerber oatmeal are perfect for a first solid food.
When we first started solids, I mixed Gerber oatmeal with a little bit of pumped breast milk. But, now that she’s used to solids, I will mix it with some fruit-flavored baby foods like peaches or berries or apples. She just eats it up!
#3 Additional iron rich foods.
Since she’s been on solids for a couple of months, we have moved to more complex foods. I try to give her a mix of as many iron-rich foods as I can. Sometimes I mix them with Gerber cereal like when I make smashed pinto beans or strained sweet potatoes Here are a few she likes:
- winter squash
- sweet potatoes
- pinto beans
#4 Increase iron absorption.
Lastly, I couple certain foods with iron-rich foods to increase the absorption of iron for Ivy. Vitamin C is one that increases iron absorption. When we give her the iron supplement, I usually give it with a squirt of orange juice or pineapple juice. Or, I will cook broccoli or winter squash in a cast iron skillet to increase the iron content. I will also make thinned out instant potatoes without milk and feed those alongside iron-rich foods. I offer fruit juice when she’s eating iron-rich foods to also help with iron absorption.
Gerber cereals are great as a first food and to help with low iron in babies. Don’t forget to get a coupon before you head to the store.
Does your baby have low iron? What did you do to help increase their iron levels?