If I Am Breastfeeding And I Eat Foods Rich In Vitamin D Do I Still Need To Give My Baby A Supplement
Yes. Although some foods are good sources of vitamin D, they wont provide enough vitamin D to enrich your breast milk to the level your baby needs.
If you are breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about whether a supplement of up to 2000 IU/day is right for you. If it is, this will help your baby maintain a healthy vitamin D level.
Why Do Breastfed Babies Need A Vitamin D Supplement
But breast milk only has small amounts of vitamin D , which may not be enough to meet your babys needs. Babies who are breastfed should receive a daily supplement of vitamin D from birth until they get enough from their diet.
Vitamin D Supplements: What Parents Should Know
Getting enough vitamin D is essential so kids bones can grow strong and their immune systems can ward off illness.
Vitamin D gets into the body through absorption of sunlight and ingestion of food. From April through the end of October, spending just 15 to 30 minutes outside in the middle of the day with hands and face exposed will stimulate the skin to make all the vitamin D your child needs. In fact, on a sunny summer day, a child wearing a bathing suit can generate 10,000 to 20,000 international units of vitamin D after 15 to 30 minutes. In a neat biological trick, a persons body cant overdose on vitamin D created by the sun.
Foods such as salmon, sardines, tuna, cod liver oil, egg yolks and shiitake mushrooms contain a lot of vitamin D. Many kids dont seem to love these vitamin D superfoods, so luckily store-bought milk is often fortified with vitamin D, as are many cereals and even orange juice. Not all dairy products are fortified with vitamin D, however, so make sure to read the labels.
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Avoiding The Sun Or Using Sunscreen
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. One type, known as melanoma, can be fatal.
Most cases of skin cancer are caused by exposure to UV light from the sun. High exposure to sunlight also leads to skin aging.
Vitamin D Intake And Function
The relationship between dietary intake of vitamin D and serum 25D levels has been evaluated both in preterm and full-term infants for many years. There are far fewer data relating 25D levels and bone mineral content or density in preterm infants or even fracture rates in these infants. Some data suggest a possible benefit for higher 25D levels on bone mineralization but need confirmation in larger trials and correlation with clinical events and outcomes . There are no data indicating that doses of vitamin D of 400 IU daily, or serum 25D achieved with those doses, are associated with an increased risk of rickets or fractures in any population of preterm or full-term infants.
Most data in infants, both preterm and full term, do not specifically allow for an understanding of the relationship between body weight and dose-response of vitamin D intake. The IOM report considered these relationships related to age but not specifically for infants . Although cutaneous production of vitamin D exists in infants, this too is generally minimally considered in most research as it is extremely hard to quantify, and the use of sunblock as well as other factors limiting sun exposure make this an unreliable source of vitamin D for infants. Recommendations for vitamin D intake, including those of the IOM , are generally done on the assumption that cutaneous conversion of pro-vitamin D to vitamin D in infants is minimal or nonexistent.
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How Do You Treat Vitamin D Deficiency In Babies
For the treatment of vitamin D deficiency rickets, the AAP recommends an initial 2- to 3-month regimen of high-dose vitamin D therapy of 1000 units daily in neonates, 1000 to 5000 units daily in infants 1 to 12 months old, and 5000 units daily in patients over 12 months old.
How Do You Give Vitamin D Drops To Baby
Infant vitamin D drops are concentrated, so you only need a small amount to get 400 IU. To give it to your baby, you can:
- Place the dose directly in her mouth when shes relaxed, such as during her bath or while holding her. Aim for the inside of her cheek, not the back of her throat.
- Mix the vitamin D drops in with babys formula or expressed breastmilk in a bottle.
- Put the drop directly on your nipple before breastfeeding. This works best if the dose is only one drop.
Always use the dropper that came with the drops and fill it as prescribed. You may not need to fill the entire dropper.
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Babies Need A Vitamin D Boost
Because a typical mothers breast milk does not give her baby enough vitamin D, breastfed babies need vitamin D supplementation. Either the baby can be given drops of 400 IU a day directly or the mother can take 5,000 IU a day , which will fortify her milk with enough vitamin D for the baby. We call this super milk!
Although all standard infant formulas are fortified with vitamin D, vitamin D supplementation is also recommended for formula-fed babies. A baby would need to drink a quart of formula each day to get the recommended amount of vitamin D, Dr. Levine says, and young infants may not take in that much. Consult with your babys pediatrician or healthcare provider to make sure they are getting all the vitamin D they need.
How Do Dosing Errors Happen
Liquid vitamin D comes in different doses and strengths ranging from 5,000 units per 5 drops to 400 units per drop to 400 units per 1mL. The higher doses are intended for older children and adults the lower doses are for infants and young children. Mistakes can happen if parents accidentally purchase the concentrated, higher doses of the adult vitamin D liquid and give it to their infants.
This mistake happened just a few weeks ago. A mother unknowingly purchased the concentrated adult vitamin D supplement for her infant. The infants doctor had told the mother to give 1 mL of a vitamin D supplement to her child daily. The doctor did not tell the mother which brand of vitamin D drops to buy. He assumed she would purchase a commonly used Enfamil brand supplement, D-Vi Sol, which contains 400 units of vitamin D per 1 mL . The error was noticed several weeks later during a follow-up office visit after the infants mother showed the doctor the vitamin D supplement she was using. The infant had received at least 40,000 units of vitamin D per day because she gave the child a full dropper of the adult supplement! Fortunately, the infant was not harmed although the amount of vitamin D in her blood was very high.
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Food Sources Rich In Vitamin D
The following food items are good sources of vitamin D:
- Vitamin D fortified food: Infant cereal, crackers for toddlers, formula
- Fatty fish: Salmon, tuna, and mackerel
- Egg: Especially the egg yolk
- Vitamin D fortified milk: Cow or buffalo milk with added vitamin D
Foods like fish, egg, and cow/buffalo milk can be introduced only after the age of 12 months . So how can babies less than one year, who are breastfeeding, get vitamin D?
Can You Give Your Baby Too Much Vitamin D
The Food and Drug Administration is warning of the potential risk of overdosing infants with liquid vitamin D. Some liquid vitamin D supplement products on the market come with droppers that could allow parents and caregivers to accidentally give harmful amounts of the vitamin to an infant.
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Supplements For Babies At Risk Of Deficiency
If your baby is at high risk of vitamin D deficiency, talk to a health professional such as your doctor, midwife or dietitian. Your doctor can prescribe a vitamin D supplement that comes in drops.
Drops can either be:
- put on your nipple before your baby latches on
- given directly into your babys mouth using a dropper.
Mommys Bliss Baby Vitamin D Organic Drops
Mommys Bliss sells several infant remedies, including a probiotic, elderberry syrup, and even gripe water and all of their products are USDA organic, including their vitamin D drops.
This supplement comes in a regular glass droplet bottle, but they also sell a squeeze bottle, which may make administering it to your baby much easier. This supplement is made without artificial colors and flavors, sucrose, gluten binders or fillers, or petroleum-based by-products.
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Vitamin D And Your Baby
Vitamin D helps our bodies use calcium to build and maintain strong bones and teeth.
Low levels of vitamin D in babies/children can cause rickets. Rickets can result in weak bones, delayed walking, bowed legs, and swollen wrists or ankles. If untreated, rickets can lead to failure to grow, deformed or broken bones, pneumonia and seizures.
Every year a number of babies/children in New Zealand are diagnosed with rickets.
How Long Do Babies Need Vitamin D Drops
Vitamin D drops are mandatory until the age of 12 months unless the infants are having 32oz of formula per day.
Exclusively breastfed babies surely need supplementation. Once your baby is older than 12 months, they can have vitamin D fortified cow milk, or you may even consider giving vitamin D-fortified formula in case your baby did not have it yet.
If the baby is getting their RDA from vitamin D-fortified food, then you can skip the drops.
You are quite likely to have some other questions about vitamin D for babies, and we address them in the section below.
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How Do I Give Vitamin D Drops To My Breastfed Baby
These drops can be easily dropped into your baby or toddler’s mouth. If you’re breastfeeding and think your baby would prefer to take their vitamin d supplement while feeding, you can pop a drop of the supplement onto your nipple before your baby latches on and begins their feed.
To give you some peace of mind that your baby is getting enough vitamin d, its a good idea to give your baby vitamin d drops. There are many different drops on the market, available to buy online or at your local pharmacy. Weve rounded up some of the best options to help narrow down your choice.
- Provides: 10g or 400IU of daily recommended dosage of Vitamin D3 for kids.
- Suitable for: babies and children up to 5 years
- Provides: Recommended daily 10 µg in just one tasteless drop.
- Suitable from: birth to one year
Why Is Vitamin D Important For Babies
Vitamin D is crucial for the health of your babys bones and teeth. Severe vitamin D deficiency can lead to a brittle bone disease called rickets, says Dr. Liermann. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and utilize it to form and strengthen bones. Without vitamin D, a child is more prone to fractures and growth problems.
The body also needs vitamin D for brain development and immune system health. Vitamin D is necessary for so many functions, and its hard to get enough without a supplement, says Dr. Liermann.
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Vitamin D For Babies 0 To 12 Months
Give your baby 5 micrograms of vitamin D3 as a supplement every day from birth to 12 months if they are:
- taking less than 300mls or 10 fluid oz of infant formula a day
All babies who are being breastfed should continue to get a vitamin D supplement after birth, even if you took vitamin D during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
You do not need to give your baby a vitamin D supplement if they are fed more than 300mls or 10 fluid oz of infant formula a day. This is because there has been an increase in the amount of vitamin D added to infant formula. This is due to a change in EU law as of February 2020.
There are many suitable infant vitamin D3 supplements available to buy in Ireland. Use a supplement that contains vitamin D only.
Biological Behavioural And Contextual Rationale
Hope Alberta WeilerMcGill UniversityJuly 2017
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that exists in two forms, vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol which is the mammalian form and vitamin D2 or ergocalciferol which is the fungal form . From a nutritional perspective both forms are metabolized similarly . At birth, human infants have a limited amount of vitamin D stores that primarily reflect transfer from the mother during pregnancy . After birth, vitamin D can be obtained by the infant through mothers milk , and through supplements . Vitamin D can also be made in the infants skin when exposed to ultraviolet beta solar radiation . However, at latitudes greater than 37 degrees north or south the beta radiation is too low to enable vitamin D production during the late fall to early spring months. In addition, melanin pigmentation of the skin absorbs beta radiation and thus it limits the ability to make vitamin D for those with darker skin . Parents are advised to limit their infants exposure to ultraviolet solar radiation by use of hats, swaddling in blankets and avoidance of direct exposure to sunlight . This means that even though vitamin D can be made in the skin in some regions and seasons, the limited exposure of infants to sunshine renders this source to be minimal. Therefore, the main sources of vitamin D for the infant include vitamin D obtained from the mother during pregnancy and after birth from diet and supplements.
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How Much Vitamin D Does My Baby Need
According to the NHS, this is how much vitamin d we should be getting at each stage of our lives.
Children from the age of 1 year and adults need 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day. This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people at risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Babies up to the age of 1 year need 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day.
Although our daily dose of vitamin d can normally be absorbed when being exposed to the sun on those brighter days, there are other ways we can top up our vitamin d levels when the sun isnt shining.
The government also recommends that all children aged 6 months to 5 years are given vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D every day too.
Dietary Sources Of Vitamin D And Timing Of Introduction
Because neonatal vitamin D status is reflective of maternal status, it has been suggested that it is best to start supplementation as early as is possible . As such, whereas earlier recommendations in full-term infants suggested waiting until up to 6 weeks to allow lactation to become well-established, more recently, it is recommended that vitamin D be started within the first few weeks if not the first days of life.
One important reason for this is that it is easier and more reliably performed to teach families to properly give the drops to their breastfed infant while still in the hospital as it is less likely to be missed if begun in the hospital. In some hospitals, the first bottle of the drops may be sent home with the family. The opportunity to rapidly increase very low 25D levels in infants born to mothers with very low levels is also a reason to consider this. However, it should not be expected that there will be specific clinical benefits to beginning vitamin D in the first weeks of life, and if some families wish to delay giving drops for 46 weeks until lactation is well-established that should be considered as reasonable.
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Do A Mother’s Prenatal Vitamins Have Enough Vitamin D For Babies
Nursing moms should keep taking their prenatal vitamin while breastfeeding, but the supplement doesn’t contain enough vitamin D to meet your babys needs. Thats why breastfed babies need vitamin D drops until theyre able to get enough through their own diets. The typical prenatal vitamin only contains 600 IUs, which isnt nearly enough to cover both Mom and baby.
That said, moms who supplement with 4,000 IUs of vitamin D daily have breast milk that will typically contain 400 IUs per liter or 32 ounces. But since newborn babies are unlikely to take a full feeding of breast milk, you’ll need to give them a vitamin D supplement at least at first to ensure that your baby is getting enough until she takes a full feeding.
Though that’s not a practice new moms generally follow, most experts say it’s safe. But always check with your pediatrician and OB/GYN to make sure what you’re doing is enough for your child.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.