As like many other parents, I can't help but wonder if I've been doing my job well enough. The best judge would be the baby, but the baby can't speak! So, many a times, I've caught myself googling and searching to see if there are signs that point towards things like dehydration, lack of nutrition, lack of exercise, lack of this and that.
"Is my baby growing normally? She's not putting on enough weight. Her growth seems to have stopped." - Things that run through my mind every now and then.
I know, I know, I sound like one of those paranoid, kancheong spider type of moms, and here's the disclaimer: I really am not. Certain situations, however, do set me out of kilter, and nutrition is one of them. Simply because it's a basic need. We all have to eat right? And if the baby if rejecting food, or refusing to eat properly, that's where that tiny voice in my head turns into a chao ah lian, scolding and cussing any and everyone who gets in the way of me doing my duty as a mother.
Now. In a country like ours, people generally take it for granted that all foods are clean, and that children won't get nutritional deficiencies because everything is so easily accessible, etc. NOT TRUE. I won't talk about hygiene because that is generally up to the parents (I allow the 3 second rule on certain occasions), BUT nutritional deficiencies? Studies have shown that up to 12% of the children in Singapore suffer from Iron Deficiencies.
When I heard this, trust me, I was SHOCKED. That's an alarming number. Lack of iron can result in pretty dire circumstances you know.
Based on the talk that I attended by Nestle Cerelac, and some further research online, here is a short explanation on why Iron is so important, especially for babies:
Iron is an important dietary mineral that is involved in various bodily functions, including the transport of oxygen in the blood. It plays an important role in muscle function, energy creation, brain development and is essential in providing energy for daily life. As a result, a child with iron deficiency may have learning and behavioral problems.
Babies, toddlers, preschoolers and teenagers are at higher risk of iron deficiency, mainly due to increased iron needs during rapid growth periods. Without intervention, a child whose diet does not provide them with enough iron will eventually develop iron deficiency anaemia.
Sounds scary? Yes. Do I sound crazy? Maybe yes, too. But between sounding crazy, and ensuring that my child gets the nutrition she needs, I choose the former. Because it's better to be safe than sorry.
So now that it's placed out there and we all know why Iron is a crucial ingredient in our children's diets, how and where do we ensure they are getting what they need?
According to Betterhealth Channel, a baby’s iron stores run low in the second half of their first year. (6-12 months old) Iron deficiency can result if their diet doesn’t include enough iron-rich solid food. At around six months, two servings a day of plain, iron-fortified infant cereal mixed with breastmilk or infant formula can start to be given. Plain pureed meats can soon be offered with other solids, once your baby is used to the cereal. Late introduction of solids into the baby’s diet is a common cause of iron deficiency in this age group.
Thankfully, Dr Prathiba, the pediatrician we've been seeing since Day One, ensured that I was well-informed about starting My Sweet Kambing on Cerelac at the right age. With so many different brands of cereal on the market, at that point of time, I did wonder, "why Cerelac?"
It was only after the talk that I realized it's because Cerelac is made with higher Iron content, Vitamins A & C and BIFIDUS BL probiotics. And this is where I ask: How much of the iron is actually able to be absorbed by our bodies?
This is the same question with Calcium. A lot of people think that as long as one has a lot of calcium, it is sufficient, but it is not true. One must have Vitamin D as well, because that is the mineral that helps the body ABSORB the calcium!
So, in the case of Iron, how much is actually absorb-able Iron from the cereal? Quite a large percentage, actually. A study was done and the results show that each bowl of Cerelac meets more than 50% of baby’s daily iron intake.
So, make the right choice for your children. If eating just 2 bowls of Cerelac a day can ensure that they get the Iron that they need, then why not?
I'm off to feed My Sweet Kambing now!
If you're still unsure about whether or not your bub is getting the Iron he/she needs, you can use the Nestle Iron Calculator to help you figure it out!