Vitamin D For Baby

Vitamin D is essential for your baby’s development and growth. The Department of Health and Social Care recommends that all babies under 1 year old who are being breastfed are given a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D to ensure they get enough.

Vitamin D is vital for your baby’s health. Vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets, which is a weakening of the bones that can lead to fractures. This condition is most likely to occur in infants and young children and it’s caused by vitamin D deficiency. It can also cause muscle weakness or pain. Babies who are breastfed should take a daily vitamin D supplement from birth until 1 year of age.

The Department of Health and Social Care recommends: Babies from birth to 1 year of age who are being breastfed should be given a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D to make sure they get enough. This is whether or not you’re taking a supplement containing vitamin D yourself.

Your baby’s immune system is still developing, so it needs all the help it can get. If your child doesn’t look yellow at this age, you should still give them vitamin D supplements

Best Vitamin D for Infants

The government recommends all children aged 6 months to 5 years are given vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D every day.

Babies who are having more than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day should not be given vitamin supplements. This is because formula is fortified with vitamins A, C and D and other nutrients.

Babies who are being breastfed should be given a daily vitamin D supplement from birth, whether or not you’re taking a supplement containing vitamin D yourself.

Where you can get baby vitamin drops

Your health visitor can give you advice on vitamin drops and tell you where to get them.

You’re entitled to free vitamin drops if you qualify for Healthy Start.

The Department of Health and Social Care only recommends vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D.

But some supplements you can buy contain other vitamins or ingredients. Talk to a pharmacist about which supplement would be most suitable for your child.

Having too much of some vitamins can be harmful. Keep to the dose recommended on the label, and be careful not to give your child 2 supplements at the same time.

For example, do not give them cod liver oil and vitamin drops because cod liver oil also contains vitamins A and D. One supplement on its own is enough, as long as it contains the recommended dose of vitamin D.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is only found in a few foods, such as oily fish and eggs. It’s also added to some foods, such as fat spreads and breakfast cereals. But it’s difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone.

The main source of vitamin D is summer sunlight on our skin. But it’s important to keep your child’s skin safe in the sun.

Children should not be out in the sun too long in hot weather. Remember to cover up or protect their skin before it turns red or burns.

Young children should still have vitamin drops, even if they get out in the sun.

The Department of Health and Social Care recommends:

  • Babies from birth to 1 year of age who are being breastfed should be given a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D to make sure they get enough. This is whether or not you’re taking a supplement containing vitamin D yourself.
  • Babies fed infant formula should not be given a vitamin D supplement if they’re having more than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day, because infant formula is fortified with vitamin D and other nutrients.
  • Children aged 1 to 4 years old should be given a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is important for babies and young children, and some may not be getting enough.

It’s needed for a healthy immune system, can help their vision in dim light, and keeps skin healthy.

Good sources of vitamin A include:

  • dairy products
  • fortified fat spreads
  • carrots, sweet potatoes, swede and mangoes
  • dark green vegetables, such as spinach, cabbage and broccoli

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is important for your child’s general health and immune system. It can also help their body absorb iron.

Good sources of vitamin C include:

  • oranges
  • kiwi fruit
  • strawberries
  • broccoli
  • tomatoes
  • peppers

A balanced diet for babies and young children

It’s important for children to eat a wide variety of foods to make sure they’re getting all the energy and nutrients they need to grow and develop properly.

Get more advice and information on a balanced diet for babies and young children:

Vitamin D for Babies Benefits

Vitamin D is needed to support healthy bone development and to prevent rickets, a condition that causes weak or deformed bones. Vitamin D deficiency rickets among breastfed infants is rare, but it can occur if an infant does not receive additional vitamin D from foods, a vitamin D supplement, or adequate exposure to sunlight.

Do infants get enough vitamin D from breast milk?

Breast milk alone does not provide infants with an adequate amount of vitamin D. Shortly after birth, most infants will need an additional source of vitamin D.

To avoid developing a vitamin D deficiency, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend breastfed and partially breastfed infants be supplemented with 400 IU per day of vitamin D beginning in the first few days of life. Families who do not wish to provide a supplement directly to their infant should discuss with a healthcare provider the risks and benefits of maternal high dose supplementation options.

Once a child has started eating solid foods, parents can make sure their child is getting enough vitamin D from foods or supplements.

Why are infants at risk for vitamin D deficiency?

The risk for vitamin D deficiency is increased when there is limited exposure to sunlight or when an infant is not consuming an adequate amount of vitamin D. Although reducing sun exposure is important for preventing cancer, it also decreases the amount of vitamin D that a person can make from sunlight.

Give your baby 5 micrograms of vitamin D3 as a supplement every day from birth to 12 months if they are:

  • breastfed
  • taking less than 300mls or 10 fluid oz (ounces) of infant formula a day

All babies who are being breastfed should continue to get a vitamin D supplement after birth, even if you took vitamin D during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

You do not need to give your baby a vitamin D supplement if they are fed more than 300mls or 10 fluid oz (ounces) of infant formula a day. This is because there has been an increase in the amount of vitamin D added to infant formula. This is due to a change in EU law as of February 2020.

There are many suitable infant vitamin D3 supplements available to buy in Ireland. Use a supplement that contains vitamin D only.

Why babies need vitamin D

Vitamin D helps us to build and maintain strong bones and teeth.

Our bodies can make vitamin D from the sun. But babies cannot safely get the vitamin D they need from the sun.

Your baby needs vitamin D because:

  • their skin is very sensitive to the sun and should not be in direct sunlight
  • their food (breastmilk or solid foods) may not have enough vitamin D in it
  • between 0 to 12 months babies grow very quickly and have a greater need for vitamin D to form strong bones

Research shows that vitamin D plays an important role in helping the immune system. It may help prevent diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, MS (multiple sclerosis) and some forms of cancer.

African, Afro-Caribbean, Middle-Eastern or Indian parents are more likely to have babies with low levels of vitamin D.

Risks of low vitamin D levels

In severe cases, low-levels of vitamin D can cause rickets or osteomalacia in children.

Rickets is a condition that leads to soft bones. It can cause severe bone deformities such as bowed legs and spine curves.

Rickets in adults is known as osteomalacia or soft bones. This can cause frequent bone fractures, muscle weakness and bone pain.

Buying vitamin D3 supplements

You can buy vitamin D3 supplements for babies in pharmacies and some supermarkets. It is important that you buy supplements that are suitable for babies, and contain vitamin D3 only.

Important

It is important that you buy supplements that are suitable for babies, and contain vitamin D3 only.

You don’t need a prescription to buy vitamin D. The cost will vary depending on the supplement.

Vitamin D supplements for babies and children are not available on the medical card or any other government drug scheme.

Ask your pharmacist how many doses you will get from a supplement and how long it will last once open.

Depending on the supplement, you may need to buy more than one bottle in the year.

Giving your baby vitamin D

Check the label on your vitamin D3 supplement for the number of drops or amount of liquid you need to give your baby.

Read the instructions each time. You may need to give your baby the supplement in a different way with each new brand.

Give your baby the correct dose directly into their mouth.

One dose: 5 micrograms

The correct amount is 5 micrograms. The number of drops can vary, depending on the supplement you are using. If the dose is correct, there are no risks to babies.

Only give your baby one dose per day. Very large doses of vitamin D3 may make your baby ill.

Important

Ask your pharmacist, GP or public health nurse if you’re not sure what to do.

Vitamin D for children aged 1 to 4

Your child will need to take a vitamin D supplement after their first birthday. They should take it between Halloween (October 31st) and St Patrick’s Day (March 17th).

Read about vitamin D supplements for children aged 1 to 4 years

Other vitamins

If your baby was premature or is getting on-going medical care, they might need extra vitamins or a higher dose of vitamin D3.

If your baby is taking other vitamins, ask your pharmacist, GP or public health nurse for advice.

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