Children between 2-5 years of age need to consume nutrition-rich foods. This is because their stomach is still really small at that age. They can only consume so much food at every meal. This means that parents have to be extra careful about every morsel of food that their child eats.
The little bit of food that your child eats needs to be full of nutrients like proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Iron, in particular, is a very important mineral that your child needs in order to stay active, energetic and healthy all day.
Why does your child need iron?
The role of iron in the body is to help produce haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is a compound found in the RBCs (red blood cells) in your body. It helps carry oxygen to all parts of the body. Oxygen is necessary for the organs to function properly. If the body doesn’t receive a sufficient supply of oxygen, it will become weak.
If your child doesn’t consume enough iron in their diet, they will have fewer and smaller red blood cells in their blood. This means your child’s organs and tissues will end up getting less oxygen than they actually need. All of this is what leads to iron deficiency anaemia.
Symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia
If your child has iron deficiency anaemia, you may be able to observe these symptoms:
- Pale skin
- No appetite
- Slow weight gain
- Less activeness
- Poor concentration
- Short attention span
Do consult your doctor if you find these symptoms. If the deficiency is left untreated, it can affect the child’s growth and development. It can even lead to poor performance at school.
How much iron does your child need?
Although this mineral is very important and your child needs to consume it on a daily basis, they don’t really require too much of it. This is their age-wise iron requirement:
- 1-3 years: 9 mg/day
- 4-6 years: 13 mg/day
- 7-9 years: 16 mg/day
- 10-17 years: girls - 26 to 27 mg/day; boys - 21 to 28 mg/day
If your child has an iron deficiency, your doctor may recommend iron supplements or date syrup - depending on the severity of the deficiency. Your child also needs to consume Vitamin C to ensure that their body is able to absorb the iron from their diet.
How can your child obtain this precious mineral?
Yes, spinach is the most popularly known source of iron but your child actually has an ocean of options when it comes to iron-rich foods. Rajma (kidney beans), red meat, liver, etc. are other great sources of iron. Your child can also obtain iron by consuming a yummy iron-fortified cereal topped with some walnuts for that extra dash of iron.
In addition to consuming iron-rich foods, you also need to consume foods that are rich in Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron better. Your child can obtain Vitamin C from citrus fruits like oranges, mangoes, pineapples and papayas.
In conclusion, iron is a very important mineral that helps your child stay active and alert all day long. Although it is easily found in Indian food and children don’t need a lot of it, they still end up with an iron deficiency. Making your child interested in nutrition-rich foods early on will ensure that your child stays healthy.