Warning about cow’s milk
Babies who are fed cow’s milk before the age of 9 months can become anemic because
- Cow’s milk can cause blood loss in the delicate intestines of infants.
- Cow’s milk reduces absorption of iron from other foods.
- Cow’s milk in your baby’s diet reduces intake of other foods rich in iron.
Once your baby is over 9 months and is eating a variety of foods, she can drink cow’s milk without the risk of developing anemia. However, she should not drink more than 750 ml (25 oz) of cow’s milk per day.
Iron deficiency anemia is a fairly common problem among babies between the ages of 6 and 24 months. It must be treated as it can harm your baby’s health and development.
To prevent anemia, make sure your child’s diet includes iron-rich foods at each meal. Iron supplements are not necessary, except in the case of premature babies.
Symptoms of iron deficiency in children include lack of energy, poor appetite, irritability, difficulty concentrating, slow weight gain and recurrent infections. However, these symptoms can also indicate other health problems. When in doubt, consult a doctor.
Your baby’s daily diet should contain foods rich in iron. The following foods are the best sources of iron:
- Iron-enriched baby cereal
- Meat and poultry
Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron from foods. It’s a good idea to serve foods that are rich in vitamin C at every meal. The following fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamin C:
- Citrus fruits (orange, grapefruit, clementine, tangerine, mandarin orange)
- Strawberries, cantaloupe, melon, mango, kiwi, pineapple
- Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, pepper (green, red or yellow)
If your child refuses to eat baby cereal, try different kinds or add fruit.
If she accepts different textures, you can also try giving her cereal O’s for children.
You can also add baby cereal to recipes for pancakes, muffins, cookies and other baked goods by replacing half of the flour with iron-enriched dry cereal, like in the recipe below.
Baby-cereal cookies (for ages 1 and over)
- 125 ml (½ cup) butter, margarine or oil
- 125 ml (½ cup) sugar or fruit purée (e.g., apple, date, banana)
- 10 ml (2 tsp.) vanilla
- 1 egg, beaten
- 150 ml (2/3 cup) white or whole wheat flour
- 150 ml (2/3 cup) iron-enriched baby cereal
- 5 ml (1 tsp.) baking powder
- 1 pinch of salt
- 30 ml (2 tbsp.) cocoa powder (optional)
Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F). Grease two cookie sheets. Cream butter with sugar or fruit purée. Gradually add vanilla and beaten egg. In another bowl, mix remaining ingredients. Carefully add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients. Shape into 24 balls and place on cookie sheets. Flatten with a fork.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Anemia: Condition that can lead to severe fatigue, often caused by a lack of iron in the blood.