Anemia in Infants

Anemia is condition of low red blood cells. The most common cause of anemia is an iron deficiency.  Anemia in infants can lead to problems with growth and development.

Infants are at increased risk for developing anemia if:

  • Born premature (prior to 37 weeks gestation)
  • Receiving cow’s milk prior to one year of age
  • Consuming a diet low in iron rich foods

The early stages of anemia often have no symptoms. It is crucial that all infants continue to see their healthcare provider for routine bloodwork and consume an iron rich diet. Some late signs of advanced anemia can include:

  • Pale or blue tinged skin or whites of eyes
  • Brittle nails
  • Irritability

In addition, if your child has iron deficiency anemia, they are more at risk for lead poisoning. If you notice any of the above symptoms in your infant, contact their health care provider right away for assessment.

There are many things you can do to lessen your infant’s likelihood of developing anemia:

  • Do not give your infant cow’s milk until one year of age
  • Introduce a diet high in iron rich foods starting at 6 months of age. Infant appropriate foods that are good sources of iron include:
    • Iron-fortified infant cereals
    • Egg yolks
    • Pureed, finely ground, or chopped red meats
    • Pureed or well-cooked greens such as spinach or kale
  • Serve a diet that is also rich in Vitamin C. Infant appropriate foods that are also a good source of vitamin C include:
    • Pureed or mashed potatoes
    • Tomatoes – well cooked or cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Serve foods that a are good source of iron and vitamin C, such as:
    • Apricots, pureed or cut into small, bite-sized pieces
    • Ground meat cooked in tomato sauce