Is It Safe to Give Polyvisol with Iron on a Breastfed Baby?

Updated on April 11, 2013
S.Z. asks from Seattle, WA
14 answers

hi moms good morning! i recently signed up here in mamapedia to ask moms from your experiences, i desperately need your opinions and advice. is it safe to give polyvisol with iron on a breastfed baby? i am breastfeeding my baby from birth until now that she is 10 months old, from her last wellness check up (9month) she was diagnosed with poor gain weight. i introduced her solid food when she turned 6 months but she rarely eat much, all she wants is my milk, but then lately she's not nursing on the dot unlike before, she's been playful and would just like to play with my inlaws rather than eat. and she also doesn't like formula, we tried similac, enfamil and gerber formula milk to no success. so we decided to give her polyvisol and she's fine, but now i wanted to try her on polyvisol with iron, ive read a lot of articles regarding iron supplements and breastfeeding which made me worried to give it to my daughter. so i would like to know if there's any mom out there who have tried giving their breastfed baby polyvisol with iron and if i should worry giving it to her. and also im still taking prenatal vitamins. i hope you guys can help me. thanks in advance!

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So What Happened?

the doctor made an order to check her blood for iron and lead, and we havent done that test yet, and im planning to get her check first since im also worried with the pros and cons of iron supplement for my baby. i just want to know if there's other moms who has the same dilemma and from there it might help me. i dont like what the doctor said that my milk is not nutritious enough for my daughter that's why he told us to switch her into formula, we already told him that she doesn't like the taste and he said we just gotta keep trying till we find one that she likes. and he also said that she doesn't need multivitamins coz if were going to give her formula she will have those vitamins in it already. but since my daughter doesn't like formula and she doesn't eat much plus the she's not nursing on the dot that's when i decided to give her polyvisol without iron, recently i just thought that maybe polyvisol with iron would be better for her. coz up until now she's not gaining and is still a very picky eater. and im not sure what type of growth chart the doctor used as reference. since her last wellness check up (9months) she was only 26 inches, 16 lbs. 7.7 ounces, im also petite and my husband is not that tall too, but then what made us concern is that her growth chart is going down instead of upward. i just want the best for her. thank you all so much for your insights, they're all very helpful!

Featured Answers



answers from Cleveland on

That is my doc recommended to give while breast feeding. I didn't see any problems. I would give it while they were in the bath because it does not taste great and they tend to spit it out. This way no clothes were ruined and i could was them off right away.

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answers from Miami on

Call your doctor. Don't ever give a chemical or medicine to the baby without checking first!

With both of mine (breasted for 6 months then formula), we added a vitamin after transitioning to whole milk. The vitamin isn't going to increase her caloric intake, but it could give her Iron poisoning if she's already getting enough through the milk.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I'm not sure about the baby vitamin, with or without iron. My breastfed babies didn't get either. I took prenatal vitamins with both until they weaned. Both were very healthy. That said, iron can sometimes cause constipation, so I would say go ahead and give it, but watch and make sure she's still ok filling her diapers.

For the nursing - It is completely normal for your daughter to be very distracted right now, and want to play instead of nurse. One tip is that every 4 hours, take your daughter to a semidarkened room with no distractions. Nurse her there, then take her back to play with your inlaws. She'll probably eat better and longer in that atmosphere.

For the solids, no worries there either. Many babies aren't ready to eat until after 12 months. My first didn't really like solids until 14 months. Totally normal.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Well from your post there doesn't seem to be a need to add iron - is she anemic? If not, then why add iron? One of the issues with introducing artificial iron to a breastfed infant is that it interferes with their ability to absorb the more easily digestable iron in your breastmilk. A baby's intestinal tract is lined with specifically-shaped receptors that are the perfect size and shape for the iron that's in breastmilk. Although there is much less iron in breastmilk than in formula, the baby is able to absorb a much higher percentage of that natural iron. The iron in formula and iron-fortified cereals is not the same size and shape as those receptors, so it takes a lot more iron in the food for the baby to absorb the same amount - so a lot of artificial iron is wasted and those receptors get a bit blocked from the artificial iron.

Anyway...if you've already introduced artificial iron via formula or iron-fortified cereals then it's a bit of a moot point. If you haven't already introduced artificial iron, though, I would avoid adding it in via vitamin supplements because she should still be getting enough via breastmilk. It is very constipating as well.

FWIW, every doctor's definition of poor weight gain is different. Some doctors still don't recognize that breastfed babies gain weight differently from formula-fed babies (they tend to fatten up very quickly in the beginning and taper off later in the first year) and use old growth charts. How much does your baby weigh? Is she otherwise thriving? Why do you think she needs iron at all? My youngest son was (and is) very thin and small but my doctor was never concerned. He's just a thin, small person. My sister's daugther was about the same size as him and her pediatrician diagnosed her as failure to thrive and had her on pediasure and come in for weight checks. So every doctor is different and one opinion about slowed weight gain once isn't really the end of the world if she's otherwise healthy. is a wonderful source for good information on breastfeeding. Of course I don't know you or your daugther or how much she weighs, but it's totally normal and developmentally appropriate for her to still be getting most of her food from the breast (food at this age is for exploring flavors and textures, not for nutrition) and for her to be more active and less interested in nursing at the same time. As long as your supply is fine and she's not dehydrated or appearing ill or self-weaning, then I wouldn't bother trying to change to formula or anything, nor would I needlessly add in synthetic vitamins or artificial iron unless she was actually deficient in either.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Talk to your pediatrician. I believe trivisol with iron is what we gave DD for a while, but I admit I wasn't consistent and it smelled and stained everything. I gave her food with iron in it when she got into solids after 6mo. Honestly, breastfed babies gain weight differently than formula fed ones so make sure your child is measured on the breastfed baby chart. And since breastmilk should be primary til 1 year (at least), you should nurse her first and then offer solids.

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answers from Honolulu on

For the 1st year of life... breastmilk or Formula is a baby's PRIMARY source of nutrition.
Solids... is NOT as nutritionally dense... as breastmilk or solids.
And you should nurse on demand. Still.
Not replacing nursing with solids.
Solids is, again, not as nutritionally dense, as breastmilk.

I nursed my kids, and did not give them the Polyvisol w/iron.
They grew like weeds and were very healthy.

You REALLY should be talking to your Pediatrician about this.
We are not Doctors.

Then, babies do get distracted when nursing. So, when you are nursing do NOT do it, where your In-Laws are. That is counterproductive.
Go to a room to nurse, where it is just you and your baby, and where it is quiet.
And make sure your breastmilk supply is adequate.
Because, she has poor weight gain.
And at that age, a baby does NOT have to "eat" 3 meals of solids a day.
Breastmilk or Formula, should be the priority.
AND, ALWAYS... nurse BEFORE giving any solids. Otherwise, baby will be too full to nurse, after solids.
That is what our Pediatrician, said.

As a baby gets older, they do not always nurse on the dot. They do not nurse according to a 'schedule.' They need to nurse, on demand.
Before any solids is given.
My kids were on solids by that age, but they nursed, a lot still. And often. 24/7 day and night. And especially during growth spurts.

For the 1st year old life.... "solids" is ONLY an INTRODUCTION, to "eating." It is NOT a baby's primary meal.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

That is the exact type of supplement my doctor TOLD me to give my breastfed baby :)

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answers from Washington DC on


Welcome to mamapedia!!

I would check with my pediatrician and see if he/she agrees for your child. You can even check with a pharmacist.

As to her eating. She won't starve herself. I would make a routine for eating. Meals at certain times and ask that your in-laws either help with it so she can grow and stay healthy or you will ask them to leave the room.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Your doctor is the one to ask. You do not want to overload her with iron.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

A baby's natural stores of iron are depleted after around 6 months, and breastmilk typically does not provide much iron. Many pediatricians, therefore, recommend giving an iron supplement to breastfed babies older than 6 months, until other foods (iron-fortified cereals) or formula is added to their diet.



answers from Los Angeles on

I gave polyvisol with iron to both of my kids. Breastfed babies tend to deplete the natural iron supply by about six months, so giving them a supplement is good.

If she doesn't like baby foods, try giving her really soft table foods like avocado and banana, cheerios, etc. Yogurt is great too.


answers from Chicago on

My pediatrician told me to give Polyvisol with iron to my son when I was exclusively breastfeeding him. There is not enough iron in breastmilk. They need iron for brain development.



answers from Nashville on

My pediatrician recommended polyvisol while I breastfed. I believe it is necessary to use to supplement


answers from San Francisco on

You do NOT need to give formula!!! Your milk is nutritious enough for your baby unless you have a severe deficiency in your diet. Even moms in drought-prone and starving nations breastfeed their babies, and while the babies aren't as well-fed as here in the States (I don't think ANY are), the body pulls everything it needs from the M.'s body. It's the M. that will suffer, not the baby. Iron stores do decrease, but it's still better for your daughter because it's bioavailability is far superior to any artificial iron.

I can understand the pediatrician's concern if her growth is going down, but what growth chart are they using?

It really bugs me when doctors don't factor in things like parents' culture, stature, and things like that. Baby isn't going to be extraordinarily tall if both parents are 5'3". Very rarely do you hear of a doctor who tells a M. that their baby is growing too fast or is gaining too much weight.

Babies will level off when they get active. I actually just got out both baby books to see where they were at 9 months. From 9-13 months, my son gained just over a pound and grew half an inch. On the other hand, my daughter gained almost 2 pounds and grew over an inch. And they have the same M. and dad! So, if there's much variability for 2 kids with the same genes, I don't understand how they can hold all babies to the same standard across the board.

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