This question came up in my Babies at Play class and I realized that if these mamas have this question, I bet you might as well! Nutritional deficiencies are more common than we might think in the western world. In fact, nutritional imbalances or vitamin and mineral deficiencies are often missing pieces of the puzzle when it comes to our baby’s health.
How Does Iron Imbalance Affect Our Babies?
These imbalances can cause sleep disturbances and restlessness, result in frequent wakings, impact mood and behavior, and influence gut health and reflux. Many of us have heard that babies can experience low iron around the 6-month mark from our doctors.
How can we determine if our little one needs more iron? One way to approach this is to consider your own levels. If your levels are low and you are breastfeeding – it is likely that your baby has low iron levels as well.
Does Pregnancy and Childbirth Depletes Iron?
In your case low iron might present as exhaustion, lowered milk production, and increased frequency in urinary tract infections. Our iron can be depleted through pregnancy and childbirth. At six months, your baby’s iron needs increase which is why you will see the big push to address iron intake around this age.
How Can I Increase My Iron?
You can increase your iron intake by consuming more red meat, poultry, fish, legumes, and nuts.
In terms of increasing your baby’s iron intake, I don’t recommend iron-fortified cereals. The iron they provide tends to be more difficult for our little ones to absorb.
If you are concerned that you might need to supplement with iron, I recommend you consult with a naturopath to have your levels checked first. If you need to add iron to your diet, I personally love supplementing by using the Lucky Iron Fish. It is literally a piece of iron shaped like a fish that you boil it in water with a little citrus. You then use that water to cook, and you can drink it as well. How easy is that?
Ideal Diet For Your Baby
Whether you’re exclusively bottle-feeding or doing a combination of breastfeeding and bottle-feeding, know that there is no shame in any of it. In either case, your baby’s iron needs increase around the 6-9 month mark, so I highly recommend introducing iron-rich foods as your baby’s first foods when starting solid. Wonderful first foods to consider are those that contain fat, cholesterol, protein, and lots of absorbable iron and zinc. Here are some iron-rich food ideas for your babies:
- Pureed or softened meats – liver meat will have a boat load of iron (and your baby doesn’t have the “ick” factor associated with liver yet…. Hehehe, in case you were thinking that!)
- Bone broth
- Eggs from pasture-raised organic animals
- Coconut oil, high-quality olive oil, and cod oil
- Organic bananas, avocados, and other fruits
Low iron levels can cause difficulty falling asleep, difficulty calming to sleep and restless sleep. If these are the result of low iron, they can be easily addressed. Don’t stress yourself, simply turn to iron rich foods and try the Lucky Iron Fish if you feel you need more support.
I address what iron is and why babies need it in this short video. You can join a group of other Mamas just like you in my free group Sleep Deprived Mama’s Holistic + Heart Centered Support here and see how we are all navigating this together!