It’s standard operating procedure for babies who are born prematurely to go home from the NICU taking an iron supplement. But, what about those babies who are born just a few weeks early and weigh between 4.5-5.5 pounds? New research suggests that they benefit from an iron supplement from six weeks of age until six months of age. With the increase in late preterm births (babies born between 34-36 6/7 weeks), there are more of these little newborns around. In fact, about 3-5% of babies fall into this category.
Don’t babies get iron from breast milk or formula? Yes... And, babies who start solid food from 4-6 months might get a little iron from their baby cereal. For full-term babies, that’s probably all they need to get their iron needs met. But smaller babies need a supplement because they are at greater risk of iron-deficiency anemia than their larger friends.
Bottom line: Babies need iron for brain and nervous system development, so it’s wise for little babies to get a daily dose of iron to help out!