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Anemic Baby - Doctor Recommends Meat???

832 Views 15 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  wombat
I don't know if this is the right place to post this. After looking all over MDC, I settled here.

My friend's baby will be 10 months old in a few days.
He was breastfed exclusively for about 5 months, then added cereal.
More foods and formula added until about 8-9 months she weaned off the breast completely.

He was a 39 week scheduled c-section and was only 5 pounds (no one knew he was so small) and had blood sugar problems which led to a couple of seizures. He was also anemic and spent a week in the NICU. Mama breastfed him exclusively in the NICU I believe. Also, I don't believe they felt the dates were wrong as nothing about him but his size was preemie.

She doesn't remember him testing anemic while she was breastfeeding, but in this month's check up he was anemic again. The doctor recommends meats. I just don't understand how he could be anemic, but I don't know everything.

Initially on breastmilk he went from a skinny 5 pounds to a really gorgeous plumper baby quickly. But for several months he hasn't gained any weight. Her other child (though he had a different father) is a BIG boy, so you would expect this second one to be as big. But at 10 months he's wearing 9 month clothes (which my kids were wearing at 3 months or so). I know some babies are smaller, but I wonder if something's up. Oh, and he is a ferberized(?) baby that now sleeps on his own about 10 hours a night and he has a chronic runny nose. I mean VERY runny.

We've encouraged her to make him green veggies and push those versus the meats. I would think they would digest better. Did we give the right advice and what else can she do?

The doc didn't mention vitamins. She is NOT going to re-lactate and BF again, so that's out of the question. Baby's on formula, Gerber foods and cereal and SOME fresh foods like banana.
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there are high iron foods that can be given to babe that are not meat.

beans, chickpeas, tofu are all great sounces to iron, some of these things have as much if not more iron than meat sources do, surprisingly enough.

it sounds to me that he is not getting the nutrition that he needs.
between the ferberizing, scheduled feeds to the chronic runny nose which may indicate low immune system function, he really needs to be getting more calories with HIGH QUALITY foods.

it is also possible that he's allergic to his formula. is it soy or dairy based?
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I think he's anemic for a number of reasons (early solids, probably too many solids, bad iron, probably evicted early etc)

But now he is. It actually think in this kind of case meat is an excellent choice if the family is not opposed. The iron in meat is more easily absorbed than in most other things.

You could also cook whatever baby eats in a cast iron skillet. Just a thought.

Originally Posted by alegna View Post
I think he's anemic for a number of reasons (early solids, probably too many solids, bad iron, probably evicted early etc)

But now he is. It actually think in this kind of case meat is an excellent choice if the family is not opposed. The iron in meat is more easily absorbed than in most other things.

i would have to agree. if they are opposed to meat, advise them to give the veg sources of iron with foods that are rich in vit C. iron from meat is heme iron which is readily absorbed. iron from veg sources is nonheme iron and is harder to absorb, but consuming it with vit C makes it easier.
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If they aren't opposed to feeding meat (ie vegetarians) then it should be fine. My girls were eating meat by 10 months and no issues.
I see nothing wrong with giving meat to a 10 month old as long as they're not vegetarian. LLL actually recommends that meat be early on a baby's introduction to solids, so does Dr. Sears IIRC. and if this counts for anything, DH is African, raised on basic, traditional foods, and his mom and everyone around them let infants suck on meat as one of the first things they got. (I follow quite a bit, but not all, of DH's ideas from what he remembers from home, much of it actually seems to make a lot of sense and jives with things I've read here.)

I remember giving DS small diced well cooked soft chicken at that age, also some things with ground beef cut up very small--he had either 4 or 6 teeth by then and was able to chew it. And DD has sucked on a piece of lamb a couple times. (yeah, she may seem young, but she launches herself toward what we have and cries if she doesn't get it--and I *do* offer nursing, she wants whatever WE have! She'd also be sitting up perfectly fine if she'd quit reaching for her toes while trying to do it LOL. and it's something she's had a couple times when she's seemed really interested, solids aren't even a daily experience for her yet.)

so I say go for it if they're not veg. also I second the beans--ds liked beans a lot at that age, I gave him black beans, I think he was a bit older before I gave him non-spicy chili though because of the tomatoes. Spinach is obvious too, in things or plain, though I won't eat it cooked plain LOL.
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Why not eggs as well?
They might also want to consider eliminating gluten and dairy from his diet for a while...not growing well can be a sign of gluten intolerance and a chronic runny nose can be a sign of dairy intolerance. I believe food intolerances can contribute to anemia as well.
I've heard not to give babies cereal with milk that the iron binds and doesn't get digested. I would give the baby some salmon and mashed turkey. I don't think there is anything wrong with giving a baby that age (especially if they aren't bfing) some meat.
The iron in cereal is poorly absorbed because of the grain (and because of the type of iron they fortify with). Cow milk-based formula won't help with that either. (Also I agree with caedmyn about gluten and dairy intolerances.)

The suggestion of a cast-iron skillet is a good one, and if they aren't vegetarians I really do believe meat is a good early food, nutrient-dense and actually better digested than vegetables. Bison meat is really high in iron.

It does sound, based on all the different issues (weight, anemia, runny nose) that there is a larger issue at work here -- whether it's food intolerances or something else.
THANKS for all the advice!

She's not crunchy at all and while I have high hopes for getting her to prepare and freeze veggies, meats are a different story. Bison, organic, grass fed... just not on the menu.

She bought jars of Gerber meats. What goes into those? I don't even know. Do they use organic meats? Steroids and antibiotic free meats? And what part of the actual animal is ground up in there? Just fats or is it actual meat?

Anyone? anyone?
EnviroKid was mildly anemic at his 12-month checkup. We focused just a bit more on iron-rich foods, and a year later his iron level was fine. These are some iron-rich foods he liked at 12 months:
whole-wheat pasta spirals with tomato sauce (cooked in cast iron)
cashew butter
steamed broccoli
Brussels sprouts, steamed and cut in 1/4 and sprinkled with salt
oatmeal with raisins (until he got molars, I ground them up in the food grinder) and sorghum syrup
tofu cooked in soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and orange juice

The iron in spinach is poorly absorbed because of something else in it (oxalic acid? something like that) so a better choice is kale, which is sold in most supermarket produce depts at a reasonable price. Chop into tiny bits and cook into tomato sauce, soups, etc.--it just kind of disappears. It freezes well, so you can buy a whole lot, chop it up, and pack it in sandwich bags to freeze; because it's in small bits, it's easy to add to something you're cooking even if you forget to thaw it in advance!
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If she is not averse to feeding them meat, let her start with lamb, which apparently has a lot more iron in it per bite than chicken. That was my naturopath's recommedation (I think he also discussed liver..)
Good ideas, thanks!
Those Gerber meats taste horrible. I did lamb, beef and turkey in the crockpot (separately), and I'd puree them and add them to other foods. I think I started giving meats about 8-9 mo. I'd use the stock to puree them with and it was really tasty. I was giving the meat stock earlier though - at about 7 mo. If you cook the meat on the bone in the crockpot, add a tbs of vinegar, it'll leach calcium out of the bones and give you a mineral rich stock. Good for babies to drink.

Because I was using such small portions of meat, I'd splurge and buy organic or free range meats from Whole Foods. The rest of us ate the cheap stuff.

Lamb is least likely to cause any allergic reaction. Pork is the most likely to cause a reaction so probably best to avoid that til later.
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