Iron Deficiency In Toddlers | Causes & How To Spot Iron Deficiency In Kids

October 20, 2018

Iron Deficiency In Toddlers | Causes & How To Spot Iron Deficiency In Kids

Toddlers suffering from iron deficiency are at higher risk for infection. Babies, toddlers, preschoolers and teenagers are at risk of developing iron deficiency, mainly because their increased needs for iron may not be met if their diets are inadequate.


Learn About Iron Deficiency In Toddlers


Iron deficiency


Iron is essential for your child’s development, and an iron deficiency can affect your child’s health and growth — and can even lead to anemia.

Iron is an important nutrient that’s used by the body to produce hemoglobin.

Hemoglobin is an iron-containing protein in the red blood cells (RBCs) that helps your blood carry oxygen and deliver it to all your other cells. Without hemoglobin, the body will stop producing healthy RBCs and your baby’s muscles, tissues, and cells might not get the oxygen they need.

Breast-fed babies usually get enough iron from their mother’s milk, while infants fed with formula should receive iron-fortified formula. When your toddler switches to eating regular foods, they might not be eating enough iron-rich foods. This can put them at risk for iron deficiency, which is the most common cause of anemia.

Iron deficiency can hamper your child’s growth and may also cause:

  • learning and behavioral issues
  • social withdrawal
  • delayed motor skills
  • muscle weakness

Iron is also important for the immune system. Not getting enough iron can mean more infections, more colds, and more bouts of the flu.

How Much Iron Does My Toddler Need?

Ever wonder why so many cereals are fortified with iron? Iron is a very important nutrient for a rapidly growing toddler. It might be difficult for a picky toddler to obtain enough from solid foods. The recommended daily requirements for iron vary by age.

  • Ages 1 to 3 years: 7 milligrams per day
  • Ages 4 to 8 years: 10 milligrams per day
  • Low-birth-weight and premature infants usually require more iron than normal-weight babies

Iron Intake For Toddlers


Iron deficiency in toddlers kids


Dietary iron has two main forms: heme and nonheme. Plants contain nonheme iron. Meats and seafood contain both heme and nonheme iron. Nonheme iron isn’t as easily absorbed by the body as heme iron.

This is true for both toddlers and adults. If your child eats a vegetarian or mostly vegetarian diet, aim for twice as much iron as the recommended amount.

The body absorbs iron better when the iron is ingested along with a source of vitamin C. To increase the amount of iron absorbed by the body, serve iron-rich foods alongside foods rich in vitamin C.

Examples of foods high in vitamin C include:

  • orange juice
  • oranges
  • grapefruit
  • broccoli
  • tomatoes
  • strawberries
  • bell peppers
  • papaya
  • cantaloupe
  • sweet potatoes

Suggestions For Parents Do With Iron Deficiency Toddlers 

Some suggestions to prevent iron deficiency in babies less than 12 months of age include:

  • Have an iron-rich diet during pregnancy – Meat especially; the red meat is the best source of iron.
  • Tests to check for anaemia should be conducted during pregnancy. If your doctor prescribes iron supplements, take them only according to instructions.
  • Breastfeed your baby or choose iron-fortified infant formulas.
    Don’t give your baby cow’s milk or other fluids that may displace iron-rich solid foods before 12 months of age.
  • Don’t delay the introduction of solid foods. Start giving your baby pureed foods when they are around six months of age.
  • Fortified baby cereal made with iron-fortified infant formula or breastmilk is generally the first food to offer. This is because of its iron content, but also because its texture is easy to change. Introduce soft lumpy foods or mashed foods at around seven months.

Bottom Line

Babies, toddlers and preschoolers are at risk of developing iron deficiency, mainly because their increased needs for iron may not be met if their diets are inadequate. If you are following a vegetarian or vegan diet, extra care needs to be taken to ensure you are getting enough iron in your diet.  Keep iron supplements away from children – overdoses can be fatal in young children and infants.

Liked what you read? Wish to know more about child nutrition, health and fitness. Learn from the expert tips, suggestions from renowned pediatrics of Pune and implement those so that your kids can have a happy, fit and healthy childhood.

Register For  “Health, Nutrition And Fitness For Kids” Event 

Stay tuned for FitaCon’s next event which focuses on health, nutrition, and fitness for kids.

FitaCon upcoming event focuses on ” Health, Nutrition and Fitness For Kids” hence it will be the best of amalgamation of doctors and certified professionals from respective arena offering various tips, guidance and suggestions on health, nutrition and fitness for kids. 




October 20, 2018

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