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Should You Give Vitamin D To Babies?

Understanding Vitamin D Dosage

Dr. Edward Lewis Profile Photo

Written by Dr. Edward Lewis on September 15, 2021

Medically reviewed by Camille Freking, MS Pharmacology

Vitamin D is one of the most crucial vitamins when it comes to human health, and it is very important for both babies and adults to get enough vitamin D on a regular basis. Vitamin D carries out many important functions in the body, and without sufficient levels of this vitamin, your baby’s health and development could become severely compromised.

Some of the most key roles that vitamin D fulfills include:

  • Keeping your baby’s bones strong and healthy. When your baby is growing, their bones need ample support in order to become strong and well-developed, and vitamin D can help support bone health and protect your child against certain bone disorders, such as rickets. Insufficient levels of vitamin D could cause your baby’s bones to become weak and soft, making them more prone to fractures and breakage.
  • Absorbing calcium in the body. Vitamin D works alongside calcium in order to support your child’s bones and teeth, and vitamin D helps the body absorb sufficient levels of calcium from the diet. These two vitamins work best together, and having a deficiency of either nutrient could impact the way that the other nutrient functions in the body.
  • Working with the parathyroid glands. The parathyroid glands help balance the levels of calcium in your child’s blood, and they do so by staying in communication with the kidneys, gut, and bones. When blood levels of vitamin D and calcium are sufficient, dietary calcium can be absorbed and used by the body. However, if calcium or vitamin D levels are inadequate, the parathyroid glands will secrete parathyroid hormone, which tells your body to take calcium out of the skeleton and bones to regulate blood calcium levels.

If your baby is being given formula that is fortified with vitamin D, it may not be necessary for your child to take vitamin D supplements.

However, there are specific guidelines regarding which children likely need supplementation, and learning more about these guidelines can help you make the best decision for your child’s health.

How Can I Know If My Child Needs To Be Given Vitamin D Supplements?

The human body makes vitamin D on its own when we spend time in the sun, but because UV rays can be damaging to the skin, it is not recommended that infants and babies spend extended amounts of time in the sunlight.

Because of this, babies automatically get less vitamin D than older children and adults, and it can be more difficult to make sure your child is getting the nutrients they need.

Determining whether or not you should be giving your child some form of vitamin D supplementation may be difficult on your own, but your pediatrician can help you make this decision.

Additionally, there are some guidelines that can help you get a better idea of whether or not your child needs supplementation, and why this might be the case:

  • If your child is being breastfed, it is important to give them a daily vitamin D supplement up until they are weaned onto formula that is fortified with vitamin D. Once your baby begins to drink at least 32 ounces of fortified formula each day, they can stop taking supplements.
  • If your child is drinking formula that is fortified with vitamin D, but they are consuming less than 32 ounces of this formula each day, your baby still needs vitamin D supplements. Once they are drinking at least 32 ounces daily, the supplementation can be stopped.

You should begin giving your baby vitamin D supplementation soon after birth, and this supplementation typically needs to continue for their first few months of life. Most babies do not begin drinking sufficient amounts of fortified formula until several months later.

There is a common misconception that babies can get ample amounts of vitamin D from their mother’s breast milk if the mother is taking vitamin D supplements, but this is not necessarily true and there is limited evidence to support this.

You should always consult your baby’s pediatrician about administering vitamin D supplements since they will help you determine whether or not your infant is getting enough vitamin D from breast milk alone.

It is generally recommended that babies get at least 400 international units of vitamin D everyday, and, depending on the vitamin D product you choose, one dose may contain the proper amount. Other products may have split doses, though, so you should always take care to closely follow the instructions on your vitamin D product.

How To Spot a Vitamin D Deficiency

If you are concerned that your child may have a vitamin D deficiency, there are several signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for.

However, because infants and babies cannot fully communicate what they are feeling, it can be very difficult to recognize that something is wrong. Thus, if you suspect that something is not right with your baby, it is important to consult your child’s pediatrician promptly.

Signs of a vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Tiredness that is more intense than usual
  • Irritability or unusual fussiness
  • Frequent bone fractures
  • Stalled growth
  • Frequent illness

Not all of the symptoms of this deficiency will be present in every case, and it can sometimes take months or years before symptoms show up, it is important to supplement vitamin D well before serious complications can occur.

Vitamin D Drops for Your Baby: What You Should Know

The most common way to supplement vitamin D for babies and newborns is by using liquid vitamin D drops. Vitamin D drops allow you to have full control over how much of the supplement your baby is given at a time, making it very easy to stick to the recommended dose. Vitamin D drops come with a convenient dropper for precision, and this method of administering the liquid helps to lower the risk of your baby choking or gagging on the supplement.

When you are using vitamin D drops, make sure to carefully read the label on the product’s packaging. This label contains plenty of important information, such as how many drops you should give your child per dose, how much vitamin D is included in one dose, what the active and inactive ingredients are, and any other relevant information.

You should always consult your doctor before you give your child vitamin D supplementation, especially if you are not sure whether or not it is necessary. Your doctor will be able to advise you regarding proper usage of the drops as well as any other information that may be pertinent to your child.

Vitamin D drops are generally very safe, and there are no major risks posed to your baby’s health by using this type of product.

However, when it comes to choosing vitamin D drops, there are many different products commercially available, and the options can be overwhelming. It may be helpful to choose products that have very minimal, natural ingredients, and steer clear of products that contain artificial inactive ingredients like synthetic coloring, flavors, or preservatives. These ingredients are unnecessary, and may even carry risks for allergic reactions and adverse effects. Instead, turn towards products with very limited inactive ingredients that are organic and clean.

Clean medicine is a great way to be sure that you are getting effective remedies for your concerns without introducing unnecessary and potentially harmful ingredients into your body or your baby’s body.

If you have any questions or concerns about your baby’s supplementation, you should consult your pediatrician or pharmacist for further clarification so that you can be sure you are using the product appropriately.

The Bottom Line

Vitamin D deficiency can lead to a host of health issues, and it can compromise your child’s overall health, growth, and development.

Vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients for both adults and babies, and while adults get the majority of their vitamin D from sunlight or diet, it is more difficult to make sure that newborns are getting ample amounts of this key vitamin.

If your baby is completely breastfed or is drinking less than 32 ounces of vitamin D-fortified formula each day, you should give them a vitamin D supplement until they begin to drink at least 32 ounces of formula fortified with vitamin D each day.

Vitamin D works to support strong and healthy bones and teeth, and it also plays a key role in helping the body absorb and use calcium, which is a mineral that also plays an important role in the development of healthy bones.