Parents are usually worried if their newborn is getting proper nutrition and not facing any kind of deficiency. We all know that a healthy diet helps to develop a strong immune system and encourage proper growth, but it is okay to give supplements if the need for certain nutrition is not being fulfilled. But the question arises when should a parent start giving vitamins to their baby? Here you will find everything that you need to do.
After birth, healthy and full-term babies get everything they need in their diet through breastmilk. According to experts, breastmilk is full of nutrition for babies till 6 months. However, the only major vitamin that is missing is Vitamin D. Formula milk is a good alternative to breastmilk. However, it is quite confusing whether you should give your baby vitamin supplements and its appropriate dosage.
Should I give Vitamin Supplements to My Baby?
Babies are either breastfed or given formula milk, but at times their body needs are not fulfilled. Either because babies are born with a particular deficiency or the mother’s diet lacks essential nutrients. It is necessary to give appropriate supplements for healthy bones, teeth, and overall growth in such a case.
For babies who are born early, before 37 weeks, or babies who weigh less than 3.3 pounds, they need to take additional vitamins for their healthy growth. Similarly, it is necessary to give Vitamin D supplements from birth to breastfed babies and babies who intake less than 32 ounces of formula milk. After 4 to 6 months, you must start giving iron supplements to your child.
Start giving solid food to your child after 6 months. Once your baby starts eating solid food, provide them with various fruits, vegetables, wholegrain, and food rich in protein. However, if your child is a picky eater, you have no option but to give them multivitamin supplements.
Should I give supplements if I am Breastfeeding my Baby?
Babies have a high demand for Vitamin D and iron. However, breastmilk is full of essential nutrients and antibodies needed for the healthy growth of the baby. The only thing that is missing in breastmilk is vitamin D.
Similarly, the amount of iron in breastmilk is not sufficient enough to fulfill the baby’s requirements. Hence, doctors usually prescribe vitamin D and iron supplements according to their age and requirement level. The drops can be given directly through a dropper or mixed in the expressed breastmilk in a bottle.
Experts advise continuing iron supplements even after introducing solid food rich in iron because the need for iron in a baby is very high.
It is important to provide the right amount of vitamin D to the baby as Vitamin D helps absorb calcium to bones, making the bones strong. The deficiency of Vitamin D can lead to rickets.
What if I am giving Formula Milk?
Suppose your baby is exclusively on formula milk or on the combination but takes more than 32 ounces of formula milk. In that case, you have nothing to worry about as most of the formula milk in the market is fortified with Vitamin D and Iron.
As your baby starts eating solids and stops taking formula milk, then it is time to start giving them supplements as per their body needs.
How to know if my baby is having Vitamin D deficiency?
Take your child to a reputable pediatrician for a proper checkup after birth. Your baby’s doctor probably will recommend that you supplement your baby with 400 IU/day of vitamin D, as per the AAP 2008 recommendation.
The doctor will assess your baby’s Vitamin D level with a blood test measuring 25-hydroxy Vitamin D (25-OH-D). Make sure to select a multivitamin designed for your child’s age group and doesn’t provide more than 100 percent of the daily value of vitamins and minerals.
- Vitamin A: It is essential to develop a strong immune system, improve their vision at night time, and for healthy glowing skin. You can find Vitamin A in dairy products, carrots, sweet potato, mango, and dark green vegetables like spinach and broccoli.
- Vitamin B1: Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, is needed to help the body turn the food consumed into energy to perform daily tasks and body movement.
- Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 fight against anemia and supports neurological functions. It helps keep the nerve and blood cells healthy and makes DNA, the genetic material in every cell. Vitamin B12 can be found in animal products like eggs, milk, yogurt, meat, fish, etc. If you are exclusively breastfeeding your baby, you must consume an adequate amount of food rich in Vitamin B12.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is needed to fight against germs and infections. It helps to develop strong bones and muscles. Also, it helps to heal the wound. Vitamin C also may help to absorb iron. Some best sources of Vitamin C are oranges, strawberries, broccoli, and tomato.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus into the bones. It is very important for building strong bones and teeth. A deficiency in Vitamin D can lead to rickets. It is essential to give Vitamin D supplements to breastfed babies and babies taking less than 32 ounces of formula milk. The best source of Vitamin D is sunlight, but excess exposure to sunlight can damage your child’s skin. Therefore try giving fish, eggs, fat spreads, and cereals to your baby who has started eating solids, as these foods are full of Vitamin D.
- Iron: it is essential to provide the right quantity of iron to the baby for proper growth and brain development. Iron is a vital part of the pigment in red blood cells called hemoglobin that transmits oxygen and prevents iron deficiency. Iron can be found in chicken, beef, turkey, and lamb meat. This form of iron can be easily absorbed. On the other hand, non-meat sources of iron like eggs, dried fruits, and dark green leafy vegetables can not be easily absorbed. Formula feed and fortified cereals are also the best sources of iron for infants.
- Omega-3: For the development of the eyes and brain, it is important to reach the optimal level of omega 3. Omega 3 can be found in oily fish like salmon, trout, or sardines. From 7 months onwards, you should add two 1oz portions of oily fish every week.
- Fluoride: Usually, the body requires fluoride after the appearance of the first tooth. The fluoride supplements can strain your teeth; thus, fluoridated water is an ideal alternative.
Do’s and Don’ts while giving vitamin supplements to babies:
- Keep vitamin supplements away from your child so that they do not eat them like candy or take them in excess quantity.
- Give Chewable Vitamin to your kids after a meal instead of giving them a dessert as fat-soluble vitamins can be absorbed with food.
- If your child is taking some additional medication, then consult your pediatrician to ask about any drug interaction with vitamin supplements that you are giving to your child.
- You can try giving vitamin in liquid, chewable, and capsule form to see in which form your baby like to take supplements.
My baby is a picky eater. What should I do?
If your baby is not a food lover and it is impossible to feed him, especially solids that are a rich source of vitamins and iron. Then, first of all, you must take him to his pediatrician to perform a blood test that will help in identifying if his body requirements are fulfilled or not. Then according to his reports, the doctor will prescribe you supplements and their accurate dosage.
Why are infants at risk of Vitamin D deficiency?
Breastfed infants are at higher risk of Vitamin D deficiency as there is no vitamin D in breastmilk. Similarly, babies who intake less than 32 ounces of formula milk have a higher chance of facing Vitamin D deficiency.
How much dosage of Vitamin D is recommended?
Supplement your baby with 400 IU/day of vitamin D, as per the AAP 2008 recommendation. Make sure to select a multivitamin designed for your child’s age group and doesn’t provide more than 100 percent of the daily value of vitamins and minerals.
You must always consult a pediatrician before giving any supplements to your baby as every baby has different requirements. Especially babies who start eating solids, not all of them need supplements. However, when you begin to introduce solids to your baby, make sure to give various foods to develop his or her palate and meet nutritional needs