Learn the facts about iron for your baby
(NC) Parents only want the best for their babies – and when it comes to feeding their little ones, there is no exception. But despite good intentions, some misunderstandings may be leading many parents to miss the mark when it comes to iron in their baby's diet. Experts tell us iron is an essential nutrient and is critical to baby's growth and cognitive development, helping baby remember the new things learned each day. To set the story straight, here are the fables and the facts when it comes to iron for your baby:
Fable: Homemade foods are always better for baby's diet since they're more natural and the ingredients are fresh.
Fact: When first introducing baby to solid foods, many parents choose to prepare homemade foods such as puréed brown rice, or vegetables and fruit like sweet potato and apples.
While homemade baby foods are made with love and they provide healthy nutrition, they can also be lacking as a source of iron, which is an essential nutrient for baby's development. It's important to make sure babies get sufficient amounts of iron by offering puréed meat like beef, chicken or lamb and meat alternatives like pumpkin butter, chick peas or lentils.
Fable: The addition of vitamins and minerals in baby food is “unnatural” or “processed.”
Fact:Most babies are born with enough iron stores to meet their needs until six months of age. At that point, their iron stores start to deplete and breast milk alone can no longer meet all of his or her iron needs. This is important because iron is essential for growth and normal cognitive development. Without enough iron, an infant or child is at increased risk of iron deficiency.
In Canada, the addition of iron-fortified cereals more than 50 years ago helped reduce iron deficiency in infants and children. Better still, some brands like Nestlé Gerber ensure one serving of infant cereal has 100 per cent of your baby's daily iron.
Fable: Iron is constipating.
Fact:Although some parents think iron in food is the cause of baby's constipation, research has shown this is not the case. In fact, the introduction of solid foods can lead to normal changes in the colour, texture and frequency of a baby's bowel movements.
Iron on the other hand, is not a cause of stomach upset or constipation, and it instead has a positive impact on baby's health. It does so by carrying oxygen from the lungs throughout the body and also helps muscles store and use oxygen.
If you suspect your baby has constipation after starting solid foods, it is important to offer extra water (2-4 oz/day), and more vegetables and fruit, which add fibre to your baby's meals.
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Stock photo: Baby being spoon-fed (below
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