Whether you’re settling into newborn life—or you’re at the end of your pregnancy—let’s chat about why your breastfed baby needs vitamin D. Just like adults, babies require certain nutrients to thrive. That said, it’s pretty easy to provide those nutrients! Particularly, once you learn what they are. In the beginning, babies get all the nutrients they need from breast milk and / or formula. And, these liquids will continue to be your baby’s main source of nutrition through the first 12 months. Gradually, you’ll serve more and more nutrients in the form of solids. When the time comes, here are signs your baby is ready for solids!
why do babies need vitamin d?
Babies need vitamin D for healthy growth and development. It helps them build strong bones and teeth. They also need vitamin D to absorb minerals, like calcium and phosphorus. Too little vitamin D can cause rickets, a softening and weakening of bones. These are reasons why your breastfed baby needs vitamin D! Keep in mind that sun exposure—an important source of vitamin D—isn’t recommended for babies, supplements are the best way to prevent vitamin D deficiency.
Do babies get enough vitamin D from breast milk?
Short answer, no. Breast milk alone does not provide infants with an adequate amount of vitamin D. This is not a defect of breast milk, but rather the result of modern women being significantly deficient themselves! Shortly after birth, most infants will need an additional source of vitamin D. To avoid developing a vitamin D deficiency, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfed and partially breastfed infants be supplemented with 400 IU per day of vitamin D. This should begin in the first few days of life.
Families who do not wish to provide a supplement directly to their infant should discuss with a healthcare provider the risks and benefits of maternal high dose supplementation options.
does your baby need a vitamin d supplement?
Ultimately, it depends on whether you’re breastfeeding or offering vitamin D-fortified formula to your baby.
If a breastfeeding mother is supplementing with 2000 IU per day or less, it is recommended that she also supplement her infant with 400, or possibly up to 1000 IU per day for those at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency.
This post is centered on why your breastfed baby needs vitamin D—the requirements are usually met through formula enriched with vitamin D3!
Once weaned, all babies should be supplemented with a minimum of 400 IU of vitamin D3, unless strict consideration is made to ensure they consume dietary sources of this nutrient.
how much vitamin d to give your baby
The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine recommends the following:
“The breastfeeding infant should receive vitamin D supplementation for a year, beginning shortly after birth in doses of 10–20 lg/day (400–800 IU/day) (LOE IB).”
For daily supplementing, this is my favorite liquid vitamin D. Continue giving your baby vitamin D until he or she is 12 months. At 12 months, a breastfed baby can switch to cow’s milk. However, cow’s milk is not required. Toddlers need the nutrients in milk—calcium, vitamin D, healthy fats, probiotics, and protein—but these nutrients are also available from other sources. For example, food sources of vitamin D for your baby include cod liver oil, salmon, mackerel, herring, egg yolks, and beef liver.
When giving your baby liquid vitamin D, make sure you don’t exceed the recommended amount. Carefully read the instructions that come with the supplement and use only the dropper that’s provided.
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