Iron is necessary to make hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in red blood cells to all parts of the body. Iron also supports proper neurological development during infancy and early childhood.
Do infants get enough iron from breast milk?
Most newborns have sufficient iron stored in their bodies for about the first 6 months of life depending on gestational age, maternal iron status, and timing of umbilical cord clamping. By age 6 months, however, infants require an external source of iron apart from breast milk. Breast milk contains little iron; therefore, parents of infants receiving only breast milk should talk to their infant’s health care provider about whether their infant needs iron supplements before 6 months of age.
If an infant is receiving only iron-fortified infant formula (during the time before complementary foods are given), then additional iron supplementation is not necessary.
At about 6 months of age, an infant’s iron needs can be met through the introduction of iron-rich foods, iron-fortified cereals, or iron supplement drops. Learn more about iron-rich foods that support an infant’s healthy development.
- Clinical Report: Diagnosis and prevention of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia in infants and young children. – American Academy of Pediatrics
- Iron Fact Sheet for Health Professionals – National Institutes of Health
- Iron Fact Sheet for Consumers – National Institutes of Health