There's been a lot of talk recently about iron deficiency and breastfeeding toddlers. Does breast milk displace iron nutrient foods? Would an iron supplement help?
While breast milk itself is not a great source of iron it still has many nutrients essential for your toddler's development. Here are some tips to give you peace of mind about your child's iron levels:
TIP One way to ensure that your toddler gets the benefits of both food and breast milk is to encourage your toddler to eat prior to nursing so that the breast milk isn't displacing solid foods
TIP Offer meals high in iron: red meat, green leafy vegetables like spinach, dried apricots, black strap molasses, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, winter squash and brewer's yeast - to name a few.
TIP Combine foods high in iron with a source of vitamin C. Vitamin C has been shown to increase iron absorption. A classic combo is spaghetti with red meat sauce. A big hit with most toddlers and provides a sensory experience at the same time!
TIP Another sneaky tip for those of you with picky eaters is to add your iron source to a tasty smoothie. A handful of spinach leaves or some molasses hide nicely among strong flavors like berries.
Iron supplementation is not ideal and iron fortified products like baby cereals aren't actually the best sources. I'll leave this part to Kellymom, she does a lovely job of sharing the facts.
If you are worried that your child is showing signs of iron deficiency call your pediatrician right away.
I'm a mom first. And an IBCLC, aka a certified Lactation Consultant, next. I have a master's degree in Maternal and Child Nutrition and years of experience as a postpartum doula.