Baby needs your blood

Or, at least, your iron enriched supplement.

I got a call last Thursday afternoon from our pediatrician’s office. The finger-prick blood test they had done at his nine-month check up came back positive for anemia. They prescribed an iron supplement, to be given at double the dosage, and told me to bring him back in the following week for a re-check.

Sounds easy enough right? Just give him 1mL of supplement, twice a day, no biggie. The thing is, have you ever tasted one of those supplements? The original one I had straight up tastes like blood. Back when the dumpling was six months old, I bought a multi-vitamin supplement for him because I knew infants’ iron reserves start dropping around then. I shopped around and bought one of those all-natural, no artificial-blah-blah-blah ones – in grape! – and figured it would be a simple matter of getting the dumpling to take it. After all, it was grape flavored. HAHAHA. Yeah no. I tried for a week and then gave up on the whole business. It tasted like blood, it smelled like blood, it stained his clothes, it took two of us to wrangle him. So yeah, I put it in the medicine cabinet and never looked back.*

*Cue mom guilt of epic proportions when I realized that MAH BABY IS ANEMIC and I NEGLECTED to give him an iron supplement from the start because it was icky and hard to do and, I dunno, I had other things to do.

So the good news is that the prescribed supplement, which is actually still apparently OTC although harder to find as evidenced by the fact that our pharmacy didn’t have it in stock, is slightly better tasting. It’s clear at least and doesn’t really taste like blood (or smell like blood for that matter). It does still have a metallic twang to it, which makes hiding it in food a little bit of a challenge. Luffy thinks I’m being ridiculous, but let me outline my issues for you, if I may:

  • Issue #1: Calcium hinders the absorption of iron. Therefore, the supplement shouldn’t be given alongside dairy. They do recognize that this is more of a challenge for infants and still suggest to put it in bottles of formula (although not cow’s milk), but it means his morning yogurt is out as a vehicle for iron.
  • Issue #2: We’re in the midst of our transition from breastmilk to formula. Today, in fact, is his first day with bottles that are more formula than breastmilk – woot woot! But, I don’t want to jeopardize this transition by throwing the supplement in there, especially as my supply has seriously tanked in the past couple of days (is it my period? night weaning? am I pregnant? WHO KNOWS!). So bottles are out.
  • Issue #3: We’re supposed to give this supplement for at least 30 days. So twice a day for 30 days – I want this to be as painless as possible. Therefore, straight up squirting it into his mouth via a syringe is out as the dumpling LOATHES this method. LOATHES IT GOOD SIR. I SAID GOOD-DAY TO YOU.
  • Issue #4: I had really hoped that he would drink it mixed with a little orange juice (I know! juice is terrible for them! it’s just water and sugar! if it means the dumpling happily drinks his own supplement you can bite me). Alas, he is onto me and wants nothing to do with that either, thankyouverymuch.
  • Issue #5: I thought about putting the OJ/iron mixture into a cup because the dumpling loves cups. The only problem is that he’s still not that great with them and he’d probably only get 1/4 of it down. I’m keeping this as a last resort on the days that we have problems giving his other doses to him.
  • Issue #6: Recall that we’re giving this for 30 days, twice a day. I really hate to put it into all of his food because then everything he eats would have a metallic taste and that just makes me sad. He’s supposed to be discovering flavors right now and it bums me out that everything would have that icky aftertaste.
  • Issue #7: Re: Issue #6 – and further, even if I did mix it in with all of his food, I’d have to ensure that he eats most of that food each time. It’s required baby. Prescribed food, now open up.
  • Issue #8: (And this is where Luffy thinks I am being the most ridiculous) We have successfully hidden it in his oatmeal on several occasions, but I just can’t bring myself to do it all of the time because ….  it turns his oatmeal gray. Gray oatmeal you guys. On the one hand, it looks completely unappetizing. The dumpling doesn’t care, but I do. Small confession though – he does look hilarious when he eats the gray oatmeal. It gets on and around his lips and he looks like he’s got black lipstick on like some tiny goth baby. Emo infants around the world will likely request gray oatmeal now to fulfill their tiny emo-baby dreams.
  • Issue #9: So again with the 30 days, twice a day thing. I’d really like to find something that’s a one-and-done sort of thing, like the OJ/iron thing would have been. Something that I can just have prepared and grab, mix with the supplement and feed to the dumpling. I really don’t want to have to be doing mental math each day to think ok, so he’s having yogurt this morning, which means that I can’t mix it into that, which means that I need to add it somewhere else, but I want to give him sandwiches today, so scratch that, maybe a veggie puree in the afternoon and then we’ll just see when he gets home  and then tomorrow will be totally different. I’m sorry, but I already have a million and one things to do/remember/attend to, I would like to have one set way to administer this thing for the next month.
  • Issue #10: [There isn’t another issue, but I can’t leave this list here without rounding it out to a nice even ten. So let’s just chat about other things real quick – how’s the weather there? We’ve got rainy and a high of 85 degrees in freaking August! Someone pinch me! Also, I could have used this last year, but whatever.]
  • Issue #11: Wait! I thought of another issue! The supplement is best absorbed on an empty stomach, but could cause stomach upset. Adults are supposed to take it with food, but only if it causes upset. Obviously an infant can’t tell you if his stomach is upset by what you just gave him, so they suggest administering it immediately following a meal. BUT. Infants don’t eat unless they’re hungry. So you see the catch-22 right? He needs to eat it after a meal to avoid upset stomach but infants don’t eat unless they’re hungry which means he’s not gonna eat it after a meal. Wah wah.
  • Issue #12: Re: Issue #10 – well crap, now what I have done? Let’s just leave it here and pretend this is like #15 or something.

So, that’s a lot of issues. You see my dilemma, yes? Today, we’re trying a new method. Another mom suggested a smoothie of sorts. I blended mango, banana, carrots, orange juice, and apple juice together to make a sweet puree. We never give the dumpling fruit purees, so I’m hoping he’ll be excited by this enough to eat it each day. I’m also hoping the sweet combats the metallic and that the small size (I’m keeping each serving at an ounce) means that he finishes it all. I was able to prepare about 24 portions, which means we’d have at least 12 days covered already. Plus, they’re already prepared and in the fridge which means it’s just grab, mix, and go. Basically, all of my hopes and dreams are resting on this! Don’t fail me smoothie! You’re my last hope!


So yeah, wish us luck! Between that and the formula (iron-fortified) and the oatmeal (iron-fortified), I really hope to pull his numbers up soon.