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Starting Solids: Iron for babies

As we all know iron is a very important for babies, but many of us don't know is that babies are born with enough iron stores which can last them till about 6 months of age, beyond which they need some external source of iron.

Breastfed babies get their iron from the mothers milk which has about 70% absorption rate but might need supplementing as solids are introduced and breastfeeds decrease.  So the solid jouney for a exclusively breast fed baby will be slightly different from that of a baby who is exclusively on formula or both.

Exclusively Breast fed

I totally second and recommend exclusively breastfeeding for at least 6 months if possible, beyond which it is important to choose solids which will contain iron. Some options are

1. Silver spoon Raagi- This was recommend by our pediatrician as it is fortified in Iron and I have heard many mothers swear by this but sadly it did not work for us as Baby A developed red rashes on her face.

2.  Iron Fortified Cereals- Rice first. Always start with rice as it is gentle on the young tummies and it might be worthwhile to look for cereals without sugar. We found Gerber cereals great as they do not contain sugar and are easy to mix in vegetable and fruit purees. Some of them can also be served slightly warm.Baby A enjoys cereals mixed in carrot, apple, pear and banana purees.

3. Formula- Some mothers prefer to introduce formula first and then vegetable and fruit purees. Women who belong to this category largely skip ready made cereals and directly go to well cooked and mashed grown up people food.

If you choose for whatever reason to avoid iron fortified formula and cereals then it is important to start with iron rich food and food rich is Vitamin C to increase iron absorption.

Breast, Formula or Both

These babies have little to worry and can easily go to fruit and vegetable purees( rich in Vit C and Iron) first and then cooked and mashed grown up people food.

Personally, I feel until the baby gets used to regular food,  it is easier and safer to rely on Iron fortified cereals or formula. Since baby A is formula free till now we swear by Gerber oats, wheat and Nestum rice. As an added bonus most cereals also contain Vitamin D.

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