According to the World Health Organization, 1.62 billion people are affected by anemia, which is characterized by below normal healthy red blood cells that prevent your body from carrying enough oxygen to your tissues. As a result, you always feel tired and weak. Anyone can develop this condition, although children are more prone to this especially during the rapid growth period. Then is there a way on how to prevent this? Read on to find out.
How to Prevent Anemia in Baby and Toddlers
Breastfeed as much as you can.
They say breastfeeding is best for your baby. That’s true. In fact, breastfed babies have higher hemoglobin, a component needed to prevent anemia. Consequently, breastfed babies have more iron storage in their body.
Go for iron-fortified milk formula.
Don’t pressure yourself if you can’t breastfeed. That’s fine. You can turn to iron-fortified milk formula to increase iron levels of your baby. Use this for at least a year until your baby is able to consume other dietary sources of iron.
Delay cow milk, especially for infants.
There is a reason why many health experts frown upon cow’s milk: it is not intended for humans. In fact, it is low in iron and could irritate your child’s intestinal lining. Excessive consumption of cow milk is also among the reasons for iron deficiency in toddlers.
Therefore, wait until your child is one year old before cow milk is given. Keep it to up to 24 ounces or 710 millimeters a day as well.
Always serve foods rich in iron.
Apart from milk, one of the best ways on how to prevent anemia is to serve foods rich in iron. Start feeding your little one as early as four to six months with iron-fortified foods like baby cereals, pureed beans, and pureed meat. Once your child gets older, make sure to serve them with fish, dark leafy greens, chicken, and beans. Egg yolks, iron-fortified rice and bread, and legumes can also boost your child’s iron levels and prevent anemia.
Add prune juice in your child’s daily drink.
You may not like the smell, but did you know that prune juice is rich in iron? This is because the process of making prune juice keeps important nutrients intact, and when concerning about iron, it's more nutritious than other fruit juices.
Consider iron supplement.
Yes, you read that right. To prevent the development of anemia, ask your doctor about the possibility of iron supplements. 11 milligrams per day is recommended once your baby turns four months until she is able to eat foods rich in iron.
Combine vitamin C and iron.
Vitamin C is one of the best antioxidants. Combine this with iron-rich foods and you have the perfect formula to minimize your child’s risk of developing anemia. How to prevent anemia on kids? Try out the following great food combinations:
Fresh fruits like orange slices and strawberries plus raisins
Spaghetti with meatballs
Iron-fortified cereals with fresh fruits and raisins
Hamburger with coleslaw
Cook food in iron pots.
It is significant to cook in iron pots. The acid from foods pulls the iron out of the cast-iron pots. By simmering acidic foods, the iron pot helps increase the iron content of your food, thereby increasing iron content on the final meal. If you want to make the most out of your iron pots, simmer lemon, lime juice, vinegar, or red wine.
Is Your Baby at Risk for Anemia?
Here is something you need to know about babies and anemia: between 9 and 24 months, all of them are at a higher risk. Nonetheless, the following conditions will put your baby at a higher risk of developing this condition:
Babies with low birth weight
Babies drinking cow’s milk before one year old since it interferes the absorption of iron
Full-term and formula-fed babies who did not get enough iron-fortified formula
Breastfed babies who did not get enough iron-fortified foods after turning four months
Don’t fret. These conditions may put your baby at risk, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that your baby will develop it. That is why it is important to know various ways on how to prevent anemia on kids through the steps mentioned above.
When to See a Doctor
You have done something to prevent anemia on your child. Nonetheless, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that babies must be screened for anemia by the time he or she turns one year old, or earlier if born prematurely.
Still, don’t wait for your child to turn one year old before getting screened. Below are signs of mild anemia that already requires medical intervention:
Eats less food
Shortness of breath
Craving unusual foods
Feeling tired or weak all the time
Headache or dizziness
Typically, mild anemia doesn’t or may not have symptoms. Nonetheless, if these conditions last longer, you need to see a doctor immediately. Otherwise, this could lead to severe anemia and your child might experience the following symptoms:
Pale skin color
Blue-tinged or pale white eyes
Once your child showed any of the symptoms, your doctor will order a blood test to measure the level of hemoglobin. The blood test will also check hematocrit or the percentage of red blood cells in your child’s blood.
Anemia may be a common condition, but this doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. Remember the tips mentioned above and more importantly, pay attention to your child closely. This way, you can easily get treatment on the onset and prevent this condition from getting worse.