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You are here: Home > Toddlers > Toddler Health

Q&A: Eating Ice - Is it a sign?

by Dr. Christine Wood, M.D | 6 Comments

Q: My 5 year old son constantly eats ice. I have heard that this is a sign of a Iron deficiency. Is this true?

A: Eating of non-nutritive substances like dirt, hair and ice may be associated with iron deficiency anemia or even obsessive-compulsive disorder. According to the psychiatric classification of PICA which is the eating of non-nutritive substances, this condition includes: Persistent eating of nonnutritive substances Eating habits persist for 1 month or more No associated food aversion

However, this could just be a child who likes to eat ice and there are children and adults I know who do this. Iron-containing foods include: meats (animal foods are the best absorbed iron foods); dry beans, peas and lentils; leafy vegetables (like spinach, kale, collard greens); iron-fortified cereals and grains; dried fruits (like apricots and prunes); fish and black strap molasses.

If you are concerned about iron-deficiency anemia, ask your child's doctor to perform a blood test for anemia.

Christine Wood, MD
KidsEatGreat, Inc

Dr. Christine Wood is a practicing pediatrician in Southern California. She attended the University of Detroit for her undergraduate degree in chemistry and received her medical degree from the University of Michigan. She completed her pediatric residency at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. She was Chief Resident there and then worked in the emergency room at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. After three years doing pediatric emergency room medicine she went into private practice. She received her lactation educator certification from the University of California, San Diego.

She is the author of "How to Get Kids to Eat Great and Love It," a book that addresses the issues of why and how to feed kids healthy. The book also covers information about environmental threats and the role of nutritional supplementation for children. She lives in Southern California with her husband and son.

Christine is also the cofounder of Call Your a website designed to give concerned parents with non-emergency medical questions, solid, no-nonsense information that can give them information in deciding when to call the doctor and some home treatment advice. You can visit her website at

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Showing 1 - 6 out of 6 Comments
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susan Aug 17, 2013 11:20:49 AM ET

My 3 yr old step daughter ask for ice wen we go to a friends house never wen were at home only over there her mother eats ice none stop and nothin else i believe she does it cuz she seen her mom do it her mom says its cuz low iron but she eats all the stuff that includes iron she will eat a whole can of spinach by herself i just need a second opinion i can not take her to dr for test cuz her insurance is only for ohio and ur moms an idiot so im sure she will not take her either and just assume she knows all...but remember its only wen we go to one persons house that she ask for it never anywea else

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monica Jan 24, 2013 04:04:18 PM ET

My little boy is 1yrs old n he eats ice as well he loves it he likes carrots too... i did notice that when he sleeps he sweats alot like his hair would be very wet dr's have ran test on him but they said he's fine but i think i'm just going to take him back to double check:)

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Minerva Jan 10, 2012 10:19:24 AM ET

I have a 9 year old son who has been diagnosed with adhd and he was taken off of adderall and put on vyvanse and now he has started eating ice, could it be caused by the change in medicine or could he be anemic?

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ASHLEY Sep 1, 2011 06:03:45 PM ET

I have a 3 yr old son he eats ice nd lovesss it i think its cuz i constantly ate ice throughout my pregnancy

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Mitzi Aug 23, 2011 06:26:38 PM ET

Try freezing sliced fruit such as grapes or strawberries. my little girl will be 2 in nov and she is also doing the ice thing. she likes the coldness.

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Jessica Mar 21, 2011 12:20:44 PM ET

I have a little girl that is almost two, she is only eating ice, what can i do to get her to eat food?

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