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Can I Give My Baby Vitamin C Drops?
Becoming a parent is equal parts exciting and stressful. It is also a very challenging experience, as many parents wonder if their child is getting the right amount of nutrients.
One of the most important nutrients is vitamin C, which is essential for many aspects of health across the entire life cycle (1). It’s not uncommon for new parents to wonder if their infants are receiving enough vitamin C - and many will even consider a supplement for their baby.
We will go over the basics of vitamin C for babies including what this nutrient is, how much a baby needs, and how to make sure they’re getting enough.
Vitamin C - What Is It?
Vitamin C is a water soluble nutrient that plays a role in many of the body’s critical functions. It helps maintain a healthy immune system, it can aid iron absorption, and it produces collagen - which is the most abundant protein in the human body. It also functions as an antioxidant that helps protect the cells from damage caused by free radicals.
Since vitamin C is an essential nutrient, a baby’s body can’t produce it on its own. Instead, they receive it from the foods they eat each day. Vitamin C can be found in breast milk, infant formula, and many fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin C For Infants
Even though vitamin C is necessary for humans of all ages, infants need a smaller amount of it than adults do. Babies 0-6 months should receive 40 mg per day, and babies 6-12 months should receive 50 mg per day.
The requirements of vitamin C for women who are breastfeeding will increase, because they are supplying their baby with vitamin C through their breast milk. If you are breastfeeding, you should consume about 120 mg of vitamin C per day in order to get the amount that both you and your baby need.
If your baby is formula-fed, they will meet the daily requirements of vitamin C intake, as infant formula contains the correct amount of vitamin C.
Babies And Vitamin C Supplements
In the case of most babies, infant formula, breast milk, and food should be the only source of vitamin C that they consume. Most of the time, it’s not necessary to supplement your baby’s diet with vitamin C liquid drops, as this could increase their risk of developing symptoms that are linked to vitamin C toxicity. These symptoms include kidney stones, nausea, and diarrhea. It’s recommended that vitamins and supplements should only be given once your baby is over 6 months old.
There are certain instances where supplementation may be necessary for babies over 6 months. If they are not breastfeeding and consume less than 16 oz of formula per day, a vitamin C supplement may benefit them. This should always be determined by their healthcare provider, as your baby’s doctor knows your child’s nutrient levels best.
When To Supplement
Vitamin C deficiencies are rare in babies that live in developed countries. But if it does occur, taking a supplement may be necessary. Vitamin C deficiencies may occur in babies that have neurodevelopmental disorders, digestive dysfunction, or those who are at a higher risk of developing such conditions. Severe vitamin C deficiency causes a serious medical condition called scurvy that includes symptoms like bleeding gums, bruising, fatigue, loss of appetite, and irritability. If scurvy is not treated, it can be fatal.
Foods That Contain Vitamin C
Instead of jumping directly to a supplement, many professionals advise parents to focus on foods that are heavily concentrated in vitamin C. It’s recommended that parents start introducing solid foods when babies are about 6 months old, and this is the perfect time to expose your baby to vitamin C rich foods. This will help them continue to meet optimal nutrient levels as they grow. When a baby is 6 months old, they can get the recommended amount of vitamin C per day through breast milk and food, or formula and food.
Here are some baby-safe foods that are rich in vitamin C: red bell peppers, strawberries, kiwi, tangerines, cooked broccoli, and papaya.
Every baby develops differently, meaning that not every child is willing to try all of these foods - especially not all at once! As you introduce them to new flavors and textures, be patient and go at their pace, and soon you’ll find that they’re just as excited about trying new foods as you are.
Until their diet expands, rest assured that they are getting the vitamin C that their body needs through breast milk or formula.
- Hill, Ansley. "Vitamin C for Babies: Safety, Efficacy, and Dosage." Healthline, 16 Apr. 2020, www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-c-for-babies.