My baby is anemic.

20130507-101653.jpgAt Reese’s 9 month appointment last week our pediatrician sent us downstairs to the lab with an order for blood work to test forĀ anemia. I thought it was odd mostly because I don’t remember doing it when Rylee was a baby. Reese was great during the draw…she let out an angry little squak just after they pricked her finger then was silent, giving the phlebotomist the death glare the entire time she squeezed drops of blood out of her tiny little finger. They got what they needed and sent us on our way telling us we’d get a call with the results in a couple of days. I didn’t think much of it because a) it seemed like standard procedure and b) upon telling us about the blood draw, the pediatrician said she wasn’t worried because of the great things Reese eats like black beans and broccoli.

When I got the call, I was at work and on a conference call so I let it go to voicemail. You know it’s not the results your were looking for when they leave you a message saying you need to call them back to discuss the results. I knew right then the answer was that Reese was anemic.

What is anemia: The easy answer is, Anemia is a fairly common blood disorder that occurs when the red blood cell count is low. {lots more info here.}

Side effects of anemia in babies: Though Reese wasn’t really showing any of the “symptoms” of anemia, from what I’ve found common symptoms/side effects in little ones can be…

  • Tired
  • Weak
  • More fussy than normal
  • Pale skin

The Cause: After speaking with the nurse and researching it more, there’s a few different factors that I think are contributing to Reese’s anemia.

  • Her age. By 7-9 ish months, babies have used up their iron stores that were built up while in the womb.
  • Growth spurts. According to the CDC on of the reasons anemia is so common in babies & children is because of their constant growth spurts….
  • Being exclusively breastfed. Obviously there is tons of research as to why “breast is best” but in the case of iron content, from the research I’ve done I have to somewhat disagree. Breastmilk has a far lower iron content than formula…especially iron fortified formula.
  • Diet. In order for iron to be properly absorbed, it takes vitamin c. Reese’s feeding schedule had consisted of a lunch and a dinner. Typically if she got veggies for lunch, I’d give her fruit for dinner instead of a combo of both at each meal. In my mind I was doing a good thing when in reality, feeding her this way has likely been doing her a disservice by not giving her a properly balanced meal at each sitting.

Plan of action:

  • Food: give her a more balanced meal at each mealtime. Offer more iron rich foods, but pair them with foods high in vitamin C. Since she likes finger foods, start introducing meat into her diet.
  • Supplements: Our pediatrician prescribed an iron supplement to be give once a day with a meal.
  • Re-check: Redraw blood and retest in 6 weeks.

After doing more research and speaking with the nurse, this wasn’t as daunting as I had originally thought. We’ve already started Reese on a more complete diet and the supplement. She’s loving the food, no surprise. But she hates the supplement…I see that being a battle as the days go on. I’ll make sure to update after our 6 week recheck!

Did you have a baby diagnosed with anemia? How did you treat it? Did it eventually go away?

***Disclaimer: Obviously, I’m no expert on this subject matter. If your child is anemic, or you suspect your child is anemic, you should consult your child’s doctor for testing and to develop a plan of action.***

7 thoughts on “My baby is anemic.

  1. Higgy

    ::anemic fistbumps to Reese::
    There are grown adults I know (cough, cough) that can't stand the taste of the supplement in it's liquid form, but it's the greatest way to get it in & absorbing quickly/ efficiently. And yeah, the Vit C is a big factor for that too. Sucks, but as long as she's on an eating plan for it, anemia is a pretty livable thing- and is hopefully temporary for Miss Rice.

  2. Melissa

    My oldest was anemic and too hated the supplement. (Heck I hated when taking with both pregnancies.) We actually mixed her drops in her bottle. She was formula fed so I dropped it in the water bottles that i sent to daycare. She may not have absorbed it as quickly but it must have done the trick because we stopped giving to her after about one year of age. I don't recall much about her diet…that was over 4 years and another kid ago! HA! Good luck to baby Reese and to mommy.

  3. deerpassion

    I just found out about 6 months ago that I was anemic… I feel better than I have since my daughter was born (almost 3 years ago)! It's amazing how different you feel when your body gets what it needs. Reese is adorable and she has wonderful parents, so I'm sure she'll do fine although it will be an adjustment for you. Good luck with everything!

  4. karey

    We found out at Fischer's 9 month appointment (yay! we actually did a well-baby check up!) that he's anemic as well. We've been doing the same things as you (we opted to not do the supplement for now – if he's not better by his 1-year well baby then we'll revisit that option). We've added in lots more higher-iron foods to his diet, too. We'll get a re-check in a couple weeks and see where we're at! :)

  5. Erin

    Stella was anemic at the same time and same reasons. Though lucky Reese, we had to deal with a full on blood draw for Stella. Within 6-8 it resolved itself with more/different foods etc. like Reese, Stella had none if the symptoms. I felt terrible, like I had done something terrible and was a little maniacal about “fixing” her, so please don’t do the same thing. I think it’s pretty normal with the 6 month iron stores depleted etc, they’re just much more vigilant about everything these days. Good luck to you both!

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  7. suzi

    It is an enormously inspiring post . This article has very nice discus abut anemic. This article is very helpful. Thank so much for share with us your baby story.


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