Iron is required for producing red blood cells. This pigment stores oxygen in the muscles and also helps in developing brain. Deficiency of iron or anemia is one of the most common pediatric disorders in children.
What Is Anemia?
Anemia is caused due to nutritional deficiency, blood loss or toxin. Another case includes chronic inherited disease like cancer or autoimmune problems. If your toddler is suffering from anemia, then he or she may have to face problems in his or her cognitive development. Ignoring anemia can be life threatening.
- Many a times parents think that if their children eat well, they will never suffer from anemia. The body only absorbs about 5% to 10% of all the iron ingested, so your toddler’s diet must contain food which has a good amount of iron in it.
- Now, you may think if your toddler need more iron; and what are the causes and symptoms of anemia? If you are looking out for the answers to these queries, then this article can guide you for sure.
[ Read: Healthy Snacks For Toddlers ]
Causes Of Anemia In Toddlers:
Anemia is caused due to low iron level. Certain foods contain iron, which is necessary for your child’s development. The body also reuses iron from old blood cell.
- The consumption of cow’s milk by your toddler before one year old may lead to anemia. Cow’s milk does not contain that much iron, which an infant needs for growth.
- If your baby is born prematurely, you may have to put extra attention to your little ones as premature birth can cause less absorption of nutrients from the mother’s body. Iron supplement might be necessary.
- Blood loss through injury, gastrointestinal blood loss or urinary tract bleeding can lead to anemia. Gastrointestinal blood loss prevents iron absorption and can cause bleeding.
[ Read: Nutritional Requirements For Toddlers ]
Signs And Symptoms Of Anemia In Toddlers:
There are several signs of iron deficiency in toddlers, but the most common symptoms are:
- Paleness of the skin
- Nail beds turn white from pinkish
- Excessively less amount of RBC can lead to jaundice.
- Behavioral disturbance
- Decrease in motor activity.
How Much Iron Your Toddler Need Per Day?
If you aren’t sure about the daily iron intake, the below information can be helpful:
- From 1 to 3 years – 7 milligrams per day
- 4 to 8 years – 10 milligrams per day.
If your family follows a strict vegetarian diet, try to make your toddler take iron twice the normal amount. Iron from non-animal source is harder for the body to absorb.
As said earlier toddlers from age group of one to three need 7 milligrams of iron per day. Therefore, it is important that you choose the right dose daily.
- The most easily absorbed iron is known as heme iron. This iron is found in meat.
- The other form is known as non-heme iron, which comes from plant sources. Non-heme iron is not much easy for the intestine to absorb, but you can give both the source to your toddler.
Try and put some of the following mentioned food in your toddler’s diet.
[ Read: Meal Plan For Toddlers ]
a. Heme Iron Rich Foods:
Below mentioned are some of heme iron rich foods:
- Eggs (the yolk contains non heme iron)
- Dark meat
b. Non-Heme Iron Rich Foods:
Here are some of non-heme iron rich foods:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Soya beans
- Orange juice (Increase in vitamin C can help with iron absorption for toddlers, whose iron intake is through plant source. Pairing iron rich food with vitamin C rich food can be very much helpful. For example a bowl of cereal with orange juice)
Iron supplements can be effective if your child does not take much iron rich food. Call up your pediatrician to know what is best.
- Your pediatrician may ask for a simple blood test to check the count.
- Another way to make your child get iron into his diet is, by cooking in iron pans or pots. Some iron will surely end up in the plate.
Children with anemia tend to get tired easily. Make sure your toddler’s caregiver or teacher is aware about the problem. Do follow doctor’s direction and give your toddler proper iron rich diet and supplement.
Feel free to share your views on iron deficiency in toddlers by commenting below.
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