Breastfeeding A to Z

Iron Reserves

Iron reserves present at birth for a normal full-term baby will usually last for 6-9 months if the baby is exclusively breastfed.  The iron in breastmilk, called lactoferrin, is in a form that is easily absorbed by your baby’s intestinal tract.  Since other sources of iron, ex: formula, may interfere with the absorption of lactoferrin, the pros/cons of giving supplements to a health breastfed baby need to be weighed carefully. (2)  Lactoferrin has been shown to inhibit E coli from adhering to baby’s intestinal tract and helping to prevent diarrhea, also, allergy. (2)

At about 6 months, food sources of iron are encouraged to be added to your baby’s diet.  Iron-fortified baby cereal and/or meats are good sources of iron.

Premature or low birth weight baby’s have smaller iron stores and most likely will need some iron supplementation by two months of age.  They are not able to take solid foods at this time, so the iron needs to be from a supplement, usually liquid drops. (1)

  1. Mannel, R, Marten, PJ, Walker, M, Core Curriculum for Lactation Consultant Practice, 3rd edition, Burlington, MA, Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2013, pp 343-44.
  2. Wambach, R, Riordan, J, Breastfeeding and Human Lactation, 5th edition, Jones & Bartlett Learning, Burlington, MA, 2016, pp 150-51.