You might not have heard the advice that you should load your baby cart with Vitamin D as well, but we are here to tell you why. Next to carts full of diapers and baby wipes, vitamin D supplements will be just as necessary.
There are prescribed vitamin D doses your baby should be receiving on a daily basis, and we are here to help you understand why and how exactly you should start implementing this.
Vitamin D is important for babies
As in adults, vitamin D is needed for your baby’s bones, muscles, and teeth development. A lack of Vitamin D will lead to brittle bones, or “rickets”. Rickets is a disease that softens the bones and for babies, it can cause soft skulls, bowed legs, and delays in walking and crawling.
This is why it is important to ensure enough Vitamin D intake for your baby.
Another thing it does, is it helps the body absorb calcium, and we all know how important calcium is for strong bones! Vitamin D is needed for other functions, such as the health of the immune system and even brain development.
Feeding methods and Vitamin D
The first question that usually pops up is, what does that mean for babies that are breasted? Indeed, many doctors will confirm that breastfeeding is the best choice for newborns.
Unfortunately, breast milk is not a complete food, which means it does not contain enough of all the vitamins your child needs and one of them is Vitamin D.
Usually, all formula-fed babies will be receiving enough Vitamin D, considering they are fortified with it. However, even that is not enough. These babies also need a supplement, until they reach the point when they are taking 32 ounces of the formula daily.
The time this will take is different for each baby, but it should be within the first few months.
How to supplement Vitamin D?
Let’s put the theory into practice. The easiest way to introduce Vitamin D into your baby’s diet is through Vitamin D drops, in the first few months of their life. After this period ends, you can switch your children to being fed by formulas, or fortified milk.
However, milk is not the healthiest option, nor is it vegan. So, once your child reaches the appropriate age (3 years old), they can be taking solid Vitamin D supplements.
How much Vitamin D do babies need?
The Paediatric Academy of America recommends 400 IU of Vitamin D on a daily basis for babies. Depending on the brand of drops you buy, the doses will be different. Make sure you read the labels to ensure the drops have enough amount in one dose.
Also, watch out for the information that the drops are suitable for infants. These drops can be easily purchased at pharmacies or grocery stores.
The appropriate dosage should be followed carefully, and the best advice will be given by your paediatrician.
Informing yourself about the different cases when Vitamin D can be useful will be helpful when coming to them for advice.
Once your child switches to formula feeding, the required amount should be met easier, but supplements will remain useful.
Other ways to get Vitamin D
It’s not only supplements that will increase the absorption of Vitamin D. Studies have shown that breastfeeding moms who take Vitamin D will also increase it for their babies.
A mom can safely intake around 6400 IU daily, and the breast milk will also affect the child’s levels of Vitamin D. This should also be discussed with your paediatrician, to ensure how much still needs to be supplemented.
There is a reason Vitamin D is nicknamed “the sunshine vitamin”. Spending that time outside soaking in the sunrays will help your body absorb the needed amounts of Vitamin D. In those sunny months of the year, you might be tempted to take your baby out and absorb it this way.
Doctors strongly advise against this, since you can’t even use sunscreen on babies until they are six months old.
The UV will be damaging to our skin at any age, and babies should be covered with clothing, a hat on and kept in the shade when going outside. Even after you get the green light to use sunscreen on them, the sun exposure shouldn’t be overbearing.
Tips: how to give your baby Vitamin D drops
Lastly, let’s take a look into the safe way to give your baby the drops. The Vitamin D drops for infants are usually pretty concentrated, so in order to reach the 400 IU you will need only a small amount.
Depending on how you feed your baby on how old they are, you could add the Vitamin D drops into the formula or the bottled breastmilk. If your baby still isn’t old enough for that, you can place the drops directly in their mouth.
This is best done when they are relaxed, and make sure you put the drop on the inside of their cheek.
Use the dropper that comes in the package and use it only as prescribed. Remember, you may not need the whole dropper.
Vitamin D is the key vitamin when building strong bones, muscles, immune system health and brain development, for adults but also for babies. The main reason supplements should be used is to avoid soft bones and rickets.
Whether your baby is breastfed or formula-fed, Vitamin D is still not being absorbed in the required amounts. In the first few months of the baby’s life, Vitamin D drops are the solution. These should usually contain about 400 IU for the daily intake.
Moms could also increase the intake of Vitamin D which will directly help the baby, but it is not enough.
Even sunshine can not be helpful, since babies need to avoid sunscreen and along with that the harmful UV rays. Once the baby is more than 3 years old, they can start taking Vitamin D in solid forms such as chewy gummies, pills, or anything that works best for them.