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exclusively bf'ed toddler is anemic

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hi there,
Got to keep this short, but I need advice, mamas!! My 15 month old DS is still exclusively breastfed -- very little interest in solids (will finally bit off pieces of things but rarely swallows). His weight is fine. Ped is not worried about delay, neither are we (hesitant child in general Problem: DS is really anemic (hemoglobin was 6.4 two weeks ago) due to delay in solids and fact that his mama is a vegetarian who hasn't been getting enough iron herself . Now I am taking prenatal every day as well as a blood builder supplement, so a total of 50 mgs of supplemental iron. Also taking Vit C, consuming calcium at different times, eating raisins and spinach daily.

For him: Ferrous sulfate (what Ped gave) is nasty stuff, but I am still giving it to him until I can figure out what is better. I know about chlorophyll, molasses, ferrous gluconate (like Floridix). But are any of these as good? He is SO HARD to give anything to. We literally have to restrain him and force his mouth open, so I want to keep this as simple as possible.

Please help!!
post #2 of 19
So he doesn't eat but maybe he would drink smoothies? You could put all sorts of iron rich stuff in a smoothie. Make it fun with a special straw or something too?
post #3 of 19
Floradix is great! The taste is not bad and the iron is supposedly absorded very well. I took it when I was pregnant. I would sometimes mix it with juice.
post #4 of 19
No interest in solids yet -- have you considered the possibility that you are offering vegetarian foods that are unappealing to your child? No judgement here, I have been a vegetarian for over 30 years, so don't worry, I am not suggesting meat.

I am optimistic you can find something your child will show interests in that will conceal teeny amounts of iron at a time throughout the day, even if it is something that was not even in the realm of possibility a few weeks ago. I'll give you some more of my secrets for getting kids with food aversions to take vitamins. BTW --if all else fails, try homemade chocolate buttercream frosting or chocolate ice cream... start with just the frosting and then add teeny weeny amounts of iron -- work your way up to a full dose.

post #5 of 19
Ok I'm back. I highly recommend the following book: http://www.amazon.com/Just-Take-Bite.../dp/1932565124

Edited out original comments.
post #6 of 19
Originally Posted by pbjmama View Post
So he doesn't eat but maybe he would drink smoothies? You could put all sorts of iron rich stuff in a smoothie. Make it fun with a special straw or something too?
I was going to suggest smoothies. A blender can cover a multitude of nutrition.
post #7 of 19
Lookig for issues in a 15 month old who doesn't eat many solids is overkill imo. So is offering junk food as a way to introduce solids. It doesn't seem from the original post that there's an issue - no one is concerned. My own DD has plenty days at 18 months where she'd not want anythinng but BM. If I had any supply at this point, she'd probably still have days like that at 28 months.

Here's some info on vitamins and iron in babies (and I would consider a bf 15 month old to mostly fall into this category):
and specifically on iron:
Please note the info on iron in breast milk and its absorption.

Mama you know why your kiddo is anemic. You're taking care of yourself and this will be passed onto him. Make sure you also have some good sources of B vitamins in your diet and supplements because that can affect iron absorption. There are many threads all over MDC about iron and you can find info on what to take along with it to help the absorption. My tired brain is only remembering that vitamin c helps and mg/ca/zn hinder absorption. Floradix gets mentioned quite a bit as a good supplement. My MW recommends it for those who need it.

post #8 of 19
Serena, it's not a way to introduce solids -- it's a last resort for children who don't swallow solids. I'm going to guess solids were "introduced" a long time ago. I am not diagnosing this mom's child, just sharing my own experiences with our daughter. It may truly be overkill -- but it may not. I thought the post was about getting iron into the baby without having to force the situation Since he is already not enjoying swallowing, I thought, based on my own experiences with our daughter -- that making food as pleasant as possible would be better in the long run than creating unpleasant associations. Our daughter who had eating aversions would not drink smoothies, but it is a great suggestion for a lot of kids.

The links above are really interesting -- thank you for sharing them. Kellymom is such an amazing resource. And, after reading them, it may be that 15 months is really not a problem in terms of not eating solids. Therefore, I went back and edited my original comments. However, my comments were considering some of OP's earlier history with her son. OP can PM me if she wants more info.
post #9 of 19
My DS had low iron at 15 months also, and he eats meat! Sometimes it is just because of a growth spurt. He still nurses on demand but he likes his meat so it may not be diet alone (I am also low in iron and have been eating meat since I was in my 2nd trimester). We give him a poly-vi-sol supplement with iron. At first he had to be restrained also and would clench his teeth. But after a while he got used to it. Now I have to chase him down but once cornered he opens his mouth and swallows it like a real trooper. So hopefully your LO will get better at taking it . I also wanted to use florad ix but couldn't find any dosage recommendation from the seller for under 4 years old and am too scared to try guessing. Good luck, I'm sure the iron will resolve itself eventually .
post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice, mamas!!
Unfortunately Curran won't take anything mushy, including smoothies. He is a self-feeding, crunchy texture kind of a guy . I guess I need to focus on my nutrition, and perhaps try some ferrous gluconate to see if it is gentler on his stomach. I would of course prefer that he get it in food, but would hide a supplement in damn near anything if he'd eat it!! Ugggh, the catch-22 of aversion to solids and anemia . . . . maybe we will check out an OT, too.

I welcome any more thoughts!!
post #11 of 19
Iron intake by the mother is not passed into a baby or toddler in this case. I have a babe who is "anemic" according to the medical world (although I don't allow the testing to be done) but i don't give that much basis. I know the signs for low iron and I WAS supplementing with Floradix which is fabulous and can be mixed in his juice cup and he will never know it....But I stopped because too much iron can also be dangerous. BF babies tend to test anemic but have no real trouble. I think most people are anemic and don't realize it...As for foods to supplement, you can try to give him or hide in food that are high in iron but at this age, it's something pretty difficult to do. So, if you are worried about it, supplement. I wouldn't use the stuff you can buy at Walmart or other dept stores as it tend to have more additives and bad stuff than good....Hope this helps some from a BTDT mama!!!
post #12 of 19
we had to supplement with iron too (poly-vi-sol with iron). when i tried to just hold her down to squirt the dropper in her mouth i got a fight, squirming, twisting, pushing my hand away, spitting it out once i finally squirted it in her mouth -- it got all over and that stuff stains!!

but when i mix it into an ounce of orange juice, she drinks it no problem. plus then she gets some vitamin c to help absorb.
post #13 of 19
FWIW My son absolutely loves floradix and throws a fit if he sees me taking it because he HAS to have some too.
I don't share his enthusiasm lol!
post #14 of 19
Originally Posted by fancyoats View Post
we had to supplement with iron too (poly-vi-sol with iron). when i tried to just hold her down to squirt the dropper in her mouth i got a fight, squirming, twisting, pushing my hand away, spitting it out once i finally squirted it in her mouth -- it got all over and that stuff stains!!

but when i mix it into an ounce of orange juice, she drinks it no problem. plus then she gets some vitamin c to help absorb.
Been there. It doesn't work at all to hold them down, which is fine by me. We are also having to supplement with iron for my guys (genetic anemia AND low iron count.. yay.), and they also hate hate hate it. I tried mixing it with grape juice and all sorts of other things, but the only way they tolerate it is mixed with things that have a high vitamin C content, like orange juice or applesauce with berries. I don't know if your LO will drink juice, but orange juice makes it a lot more tolerable. I think that tanginess covers up the awful metallic taste, and the vitamin C also makes it easier for your body to absorb all that iron.

Hope that helps. Good luck; this stuff is no fun. I love how the hematologist was just like, "okay, give this to them every day", like it's no big deal. I can't believe what it takes to get a supplement into these kids sometimes!
post #15 of 19
Couple things:

Please do not restrain him to force feed him iron supplement. We had to do this with our child and it broke the trust level we had established with solids. She stopped trying any new foods and even now still is extremely resistant to trying new foods. Up until I gave her the nasty iron supplement the ped bullied us into, she was fine with trying new foods. Know that if your LO is already resistant to new foods, adding something that is entirely unpalatable (and likely upsets his stomach too) will NOT help with the smooth transition to solids later on.

The key is get something that is palatable for him. If Floradix is, then great. We found Tri-Iron, by Trilight Herbs, and it was WONDERFUL (thanks to a mama here on MDC, who recommended it to us). It's herb-based iron and given in drops -- literally. Like we gave 16 drops a day (8 drops 2x a day as I recall). It has a sweet taste and is very easy to mix in with orange juice or other liquid if need be.

You adding more iron to your diet will NOT bring his levels up. That would help maintain his healthy levels, but if he's anemic and his levels are already below where they need to be, you have to supplement somehow to restore iron stores, then you can rely on the minimal amounts that come through BM to help maintain if he's still not on solids.

But it pains me to read about so many mamas who had to force-feed their child iron. It was a truly awful experience for us and has had huge ramifications in terms of her willingness to try new foods, and that has proven extremely frustrating in terms of maintaining a healthy diet for her.

I just want to hopefully prevent others from going through the same issues.


Once he's on solids more readily, you can cook with cast iron, you can add iron-fortified foods (like oatmeal) to things like pancakes, muffins, etc. Always make sure that iron is taken with vitamin C (helps absorption, as PP pointed out) and NOT calcium -- calcium inhibits iron absorption.

ETA: This pregnancy I've been incredibly proactive and am taking iron daily to ensure *I* do not get anemic in pregnancy. I am convinced that the reason Guinevere got anemic was because I was anemic in pregnancy and it took a while to get it under control. Her iron stores ran out prematurely and I didn't know to continue taking iron while EBFing.
post #16 of 19
Have you tried "Nutrios" - cheerios for toddlers (I think it's a Heinz product)? Not the greatest ingredients - has corn. But they are fortified with iron and crunchy. Mt dd (who won't touch meat) loves them.
post #17 of 19
We are dealing with this same dilemma. 15 months old, very few solids (and what he does eat is NOT the best thing for iron absorbation...yogurt), anemic. My understanding of the literature is that increasing the mother's iron supply does NOT affect the iron levels in a breastfeeding babe (unfortunately). We tried the regular iron drops but DS hated them with a passion, developed horrible constipation (but with more frequent pooping? It was a pretty awful combo) and the worst diaper rash he has ever had. We discontinued the iron and will wait for the diaper rash to completely heal before reintroducing. Once we do reintroduce we will start at a MUCH smaller dose and work our way up (ped wants us to give 30mg/day!)...maybe start off with 5 mg/day and see how it goes. We have had our best success administering iron when we mix it with OJ and then give it in a syringe.
post #18 of 19
I am almost positive that the last time I had a well baby visit, my ds's dr mentioned that the latest, most up to date literature says that the mother's iron intake actually DOES help increase it in a bf'd child.

please don't quote me or take what i said to 100% true, but really i'm almost positive because i remember her saying something about how for the longest time it has been stated as NOT making a difference, but new findings are saying something else....

maybe something to question your lo's peds about it...
post #19 of 19
The ped told us that the most recent research indicates that increasing iron supplementation in mother's diet does in fact, boost the iron levels present in breastmilk, but only minimally so. Which means it's great for maintaining iron levels in a non-anemic child, but will not be effective in restoring iron levels once the child is anemic. So definitely do up your own iron supplementation, but don't rely on that to correct the baby's anemia. :/
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