My 10-month-old is anemic. Are supplements safe? He doesn’t like to eat; should I force him?
Dr. Greene’s Answer:
The most common cause of anemia in babies is iron deficiency. This usually can be corrected pretty easily with supplemental iron. Supplements are quite safe at that age, at the appropriate dose, which is about 3 to 5 mg of iron per kg of body weight. The iron drops are usually given for about a month and then the blood test is repeated.
If the anemia isn’t much better, it’s time to consider reasons other than iron deficiency for his anemia. Your child’s doctor may decide to do further blood tests to clarify the cause for his anemia. He may just have a normal hemoglobin at that level, for instance, and not need any treatment at all.
If the anemia has improved, kids usually stay on the iron for another two months or so. He should also have a careful physical, if he did not have one recently, to be certain that his development is proceeding on course.
Iron in the diet is great, but forcing kids to eat, pushing them, or even coaxing them with fun airplane noises usually does not improve eating. Offer foods, but if he is happy, growing well, and making plenty of wet diapers, it’s okay not to take much in the way of solids. Kids get most of their nutrition at that age from what they drink, not what they eat. The solids are mostly for the experience.