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Toddlers, Iron, and Vitamins

Expert Q&A


Updated February 05, 2006

Q. I have a son that is over a year old. His pediatrician gave him iron drops cause he was no longer taking formula.

He had a reaction to the iron drops and they didn't prescribe him anything else for his iron. I do know that newborns and toddlers need sufficient iron intake for brain development. Matt, PA

A. In general, toddlers don't need to take a vitamin with iron. Even though they aren't drinking an iron fortified infant formula anymore, they should be able to get enough iron from all of the other things that they are eating.

Foods that are usually considered to be good sources of iron include:

  • red meats, fish, and poultry
  • iron fortified cereal
  • oatmeal
  • beans (black, kidney, lima, navy, pinto, soy beans)
  • tofu
  • greens (collard, kale, mustard, spinach, turnip green)
  • iron fortified breads
  • egg yolks
  • dried fruits (raisins, apricots)
You should also look for foods that say that they are iron fortified, like cereals and breads, or that say they have 'more iron.'

Does your toddler not eat many of these iron rich foods? If not, then he may very well need some extra iron. In this case, while a vitamin can be helpful, you might also consider giving him a toddler formula instead of whole cow's milk. These toddler formulas include:

  • Enfamil Next Step Lipil
  • Similac 2

Multivitamins With Iron

If you did need to give him a multivitamin with iron, good choices at this age might include: Keep in mind that most chewable vitamins aren't suitable for toddlers under age 2 years of age.

Iron Deficiency Anemia

If your child was tested and already has iron deficiency anemia, then in addition to eating more foods with iron, he will likely need an iron supplement. These iron supplements, like Feosol, Niferex, and Icar, have much more iron than a simple multivitamin.

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