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How Much Liquid Vitamin D Should I Give My Baby?
When you’re shopping for your baby, there are essential items that every parent knows to buy - things like diapers, wipes, and lotion. But did you know that you should be thinking about purchasing liquid vitamin D for your baby, too?
There are many reasons as to why it’s important for babies to get a daily dose of vitamin D. In this article, we’ll go over why vitamin D for babies is so essential and how you can incorporate this supplement into your baby’s diet.
Why Is Vitamin D Important?
Vitamin D is essential for your baby’s growing bones and teeth (1). In extreme cases of a severe deficiency, a baby might even develop a brittle bone disease called rickets. Vitamin D aids in absorbing calcium and using it to form and strengthen bones - without a good amount of vitamin D, your baby may be more prone to fractures and problems with their general growth. Vitamin D is also essential for brain development and health of the immune system. Clearly, it fulfills many important and vital functions within a baby’s system - but it’s difficult for a baby to get enough of it without a supplement.
Over the last few years, the recommended amount of vitamin D for babies has actually increased (2) because of evidence of lifelong benefits.
Do Breastfed Babies Need Vitamin D?
You often hear that babies get all the nutrients they need from breast milk, but in the case of vitamin D, that is not always true (1). The first few days of their lives are when most infants should receive vitamin D drops - and this is especially important for breast fed babies because they get a very small amount of vitamin D from breast milk.
While it’s true that infant formula contains vitamin D, it’s not enough for very young babies. Until babies are drinking 32 oz of formula per day, they could benefit from a vitamin D supplement. Newborns are not consuming enough formula to get the recommended amount of vitamin D from it.
How Much Vitamin D Do Babies Need?
For babies, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 400 IU per day of vitamin D. Most infant vitamin D supplements contain this amount in a single dosage, but this could differ depending on the type or brand that you buy. With whatever brand you decide to go with, make sure to read the directions. If you’re not sure what kind to use, consult your child’s doctor.
How We Get Vitamin D
There are a few ways that we can get vitamin D (3). The first method is through sunlight, but since protection from the sun often takes priority with babies (with sunscreen and protective clothing), this is not always the most effective strategy. It’s also better to choose a supplement and avoid any damage that the sun might do to a baby’s sensitive skin. Only when they are 6 months old is it safe to start using sunscreen - before then, cover them with the stroller cover, hats, or other protective shading (1).
We can also get vitamin D from food - it is added to cow’s milk and margarine, and it is present in salmon, tuna, trout, whitefish, and egg yolks, but those are all substances that babies do not yet consume.
This is why a vitamin D supplement is the best choice for babies who need more vitamin D in their diets.
How To Give Vitamin D Drops To Your Baby
You only need to give your baby a small amount of vitamin D drops. Since a baby dosage is very concentrated, they get the full recommended 400 IU in one dosage (1). If you’re wondering: is liquid vitamin D better than pills? When it comes to a baby, a thousand times yes. Obviously, babies cannot chew or swallow pills, so liquid vitamin D is the only option for them.
To administer vitamin D to your baby, place the dose directly in their mouth during a time when they are relaxed, like during bath time or while you are holding them. Aim for the inside of their cheek instead of the back of the throat.
If this method doesn’t appeal to you, you can always add the dosage into their breast milk in a bottle, or place it onto your nipple before breastfeeding. The latter is a good method if the dosage is only one drop.
Always use the dropper that comes with the supplement, and fill it as the directions prescribe.
- "Do Babies Really Need Vitamin D Supplements?" Health Essentials, health.clevelandclinic.org/do-babies-really-need-vitamin-d-supplements/.
- "Vitamin D: On the Double." HealthyChildren.org, www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Vitamin-D-On-the-Double.aspx.
- "Vitamin D." CaringForKids.cps.ca, July 2021, caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/pregnancy-and-babies/vitamin_d.