Iron for a healthy baby
Grow, and grow, and GROW. That’s what babies do. And to do this, they need iron.
Your baby uses the iron it gets from you to make red blood cells first. If there is not enough iron then other parts of the body, such as the heart, muscles and brain could potentially be compromised. 1 In fact, iron is so important for the development of a healthy brain that children whose mothers had low iron can have a lower IQ.2 The baby’s immune system (which helps them fight infections once they are born) can also be affected.2
It is not just for growth in the womb that your baby needs iron – iron is also crucial for growth after it has been born.2 Because breast milk doesn’t have much iron in it, 3 your baby uses iron it stored during the last trimester of your pregnancy. A healthy, full-term baby will have enough iron to keep it growing normally until it is 4-6 months old. 3 After this they begin to get iron from the solid food they eat, or perhaps from formula. To learn more about iron and your baby after birth see our section on “iron and your baby”.
Unnecessary iron supplementation is not healthy for you or your baby, so always speak to your doctor before adding a supplement to your diet, especially if you have no signs of iron deficiency.
- 1. Breymann C.Iron deficiency anemia in pregnancy. Expert Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2013;8(6):587-596. doi:10.1586/17474108.2013.842683.
- 2. a. b. c. d. Rao R, Georgieff MK.Iron in fetal and neonatal nutrition. Semin Fetal Neonatal Med. 2007;12(1):54-63. doi:10.1016/j.siny.2006.10.007.
- 3. a. b. Ziegler EE, Nelson SE, Jeter JM.Iron supplementation of breastfed infants. Nutr Rev. 2011;69 Suppl 1:S71-7. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00438.x.