Baby formula without iron is not appropriate for the vast majority of infants. Although it was originally thought low iron formula was good for younger babies, this has been proven false.
Some caregivers feel switching to a baby formula without iron will lessen constipation, colic and fussiness. There is no research to support this. Healthy babies should all be on an iron fortified formula. Although babies have sufficient iron stores for the first 6 months of life, these stores gradually dwindle, making iron fortified formula necessary. Of course, breast milk is best, and breast milk contains the most absorbable iron of all formulas, but if you cannot breast feed, a baby formula without iron is not a good choice.
If baby formula without iron is so bad, why is it on the market?
This is a great question. The FDA has actually asked the formula companies to discontinue the low iron baby formulas because it’s inappropriate for so many babies; however the companies have refused because there is still a market for it. Since caregivers are willing to purchase it and it currently makes up about 20% of all formula sales in the US, the companies do not want to lose that revenue. That said low iron baby formula is much more difficult to find than formula with iron.
Why does my baby need baby formula with iron?
Iron is very important for babies. It has an important role in the blood and brain, and a lack of iron often results in iron deficiency anemia, which is when not enough oxygen circulates in the bloodstream and gets delivered to the organs of the body.
What are the signs of Iron Deficiency Anemia?
Signs of iron deficiency anemia include tiredness, rapid heartbeat, pale skin, irritability, loss of appetite and a swollen tongue. Of course not every baby will have all of these symptoms. If you are concerned your baby may have iron deficiency anemia take her to the pediatrician. It can be diagnosed by a simple blood test.
What foods can I give my baby that contains iron?
The most common baby food fortified with iron is baby cereal. They all contain a good amount of iron which is why they are often recommended until your baby’s second birthday. If your child doesn’t like baby cereal or you get tired of giving it to her however, lentils, egg yolks and red meat are also excellent sources of iron.
The bottom line is if you have a healthy, full term infant they should NOT be on low iron baby formula. This is especially true if your baby was a preemie or had a low birth weight. If you feel you need to switch formulas from a standard one, you can do that and try to find the best baby formula for your baby, but if you are considering a low iron baby formula please consult with your baby’s pediatrician before switching.