Earlier this year after one of GBaby’s well-visits we were told that she had a minor iron deficiency. “No big deal-LOTS of kids have iron deficiencies” the doctor said. She continued “There’s a supplement you can give her, its brown and gooey and really nasty.” Yeah! Sign us up for that! I did some really quick thinking and asked my doctor if we could try for one month to adjust Gbaby’s diet and see if we could get the count up. She said “Sure-I know you’ll be proactive about it” (this is why I love our doctor). She calculated out how many milligrams of iron I needed to be getting into GBaby (about 30mg a day) and I was on my way to the internet.
First I found that the 30mg of iron prescribed by my doctor area actually over 150% of the daily RDA outlined on the nifty nutrition labels on food. When I saw that I called the doctor back. Sure enough, she said GBaby needed that much to replenish her iron stores and get the iron back in her system.
Then I studied up and learned about the different types of iron and how different foods interact with iron absorption (no high calcium foods with plant based iron sources, and vitamin C helps the body absorb iron). Finally, I started looking at how much iron was in foods and how much I had to stuff into GBaby and decided that the iron fortified foods were our best bet and to treat them like a “supplement” trying to get the bulk of the iron needed through the fortified foods and then whatever was in extra meals was icing in the cake.
I realized that after GBaby started eating anything off of our dinner plates, we had not been giving her the whole grain infant cereal as often. Since the cereal we use packs in about 8mg of iron per serving (or 45% RDA), we became much more disciplined about getting her a dose of cereal with fruit or veggie mixed in at least once a day – and often twice. I also found some great recipes to use the cereal in baked goods that any kid would love! I’ll be sharing those in the next few days.
We also switched to the whole grain version of the national brand –o cereal which has about18mg iron serving per cup: considerably more than the standard option. Getting GBaby to gobble down a bunch of “O’s” is never a problem! We also added scrambled eggs to the menu a lot more often. “O’s” or “gooey brown stuff”. Said a prayer that the O’s would work and let GBaby eat as many as she wanted!
We ran into trouble with many other foods high in iron, like meats, beans and broccoli. Either she didn’t care for them, or they didn’t care for her. So we didn’t press the issue.
After a month, we checked her iron again with the doctor and it was up! We were told to “keep doing what you’re doing”. So we are.
Please note: I am not a dietician and this is just our experience with managing our child’s iron deficiency. Please consult with your family physician for the best course of action for your child.