Vitamin D for breastfed babies

Vitamin D for breastfed babies

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Does my breastfed baby need vitamin D drops?

Yes. Although breast milk generally provides excellent nutrition for your baby, it doesn't contain the amount of vitamin D needed for healthy bones and growth. So if you breastfeed your baby, your pediatrician will likely suggest giving your baby vitamin D drops starting shortly after birth.

Why do breastfed babies need vitamin D supplements?

Our bodies produce vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight, but sun exposure can damage skin and increases the risk of skin cancer. So the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends keeping infants out of direct sunlight and protecting their skin with clothing and hats. As a result, many babies aren't producing vitamin D on their own and therefore need supplements.

Why is vitamin D important for my baby?

Vitamin D helps your baby use the calcium he gets from breast milk or formula to grow strong teeth and bones. Babies who don't get enough vitamin D may have more cavities and other dental problems later. Vitamin D deficiency can also cause rickets, a disease that leads to weak or poorly formed bones. Before vitamin D was routinely added to foods such as dairy products and formula, rickets was more common than it is today.

How much vitamin D does my baby need?

The AAP recommends that breastfed and partially breastfed babies get 400 international units (IU) of supplemental vitamin D daily. Formula provides vitamin D, but babies would need to drink at least 32 ounces of formula a day to get 400 IU. The AAP recommends supplementing with vitamin D starting soon after birth and continuing until a baby's first birthday, when she can start drinking vitamin D-fortified whole milk.

Can I take a supplement to increase the vitamin D in my breastmilk instead?

While one study found that babies' vitamin D levels rose when their mothers took high-dose vitamin D supplements, there's not enough evidence for the AAP to change its recommendation to give breastfed babies a 400 IU vitamin D supplement.

How to give your baby vitamin D drops

Some babies don't mind being given vitamins in a dropper, while others may protest. But don't give up! Here are some mom-tested tips for getting your baby to take liquid vitamins:

  • After your baby has been fed and is at her most content, move quickly but gently to put the dropper into her mouth. Sometimes surprise is your best tactic.
  • Aim the tip of the dropper at the inside of his cheek so he's less likely to purse his lips and spit it out.
  • Some moms find dripping a little at a time works best, while others swear by a quick application of the full dose at once.
  • Add the drops to a bottle of pumped breast milk. To be sure your baby gets the full dose, mix it with a small amount of milk and feed it to him when he's hungry so he's sure to finish it. Then give him the rest of the milk separately.
  • Once your baby is eating solid foods, try mixing the liquid vitamin into mashed fruits or vegetables, or into infant cereal.

The taste of supplements varies, so you may want to experiment with different brands if your baby continually protests and spits the liquid out.

Learn more:

Watch the video: 15 Foods High in Vitamin D (November 2022).

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