FAQs on Breastfeeding: Does a Breastfed baby need extra calcium and iron?
Breast milk has enough calcium to meet the normal requirements of the baby. Even if your baby is teething, you need not give her calcium. Your milk also has one of the best forms of iron that is absorbed into the baby's system remarkably well. Till the child triples her birth weight, all her iron requirements are met by your milk alone.
In one study reported in the Journal of Pediatrics, none of the infants receiving human milk as the only milk in the first 12 months of life, without other foods containing iron, were anemic at 7 months, compared with 43% of those breastfed for a shorter period. Good iron levels (haemoglobin) were found at 12 and 24 months of age. However, it is recommended that other foods be introduced into the baby's diet after 6 months. These foods provide her extra iron. Iron- deficiency (anaemia) can occur in breastfed children if introduction of other foods is delayed beyond 6 months. Such children can become irritable and develop loss of appetite and may need more breast milk. Their diet will then have to include foods containing iron and, at time, iron in medicinal form will have to be given as well.
No extra calcium is needed in breastfed children born at the expected time. Caries of teeth are common in bottle-fed children. Breastfed children can also get caries, but this is extremely rare. It is generally seen in children who have an inherent tendency to get caries and who, even after they have started teething, have a tendency to go to sleep on the breast after feeding. Don't stop breastfeeding if a dentist tells you that prolonged breastfeeding causes caries of teeth; follow his advice regarding ways of preventing caries.
It is important to note that breastfed children can also get diseases seen in bottle-fed babies. But it must be appreciated that the incidence of these diseases is much higher in artificially fed children.
Source: Book - Guide to Child Care by Dr R K Anand
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