Vitamin D for breastfeeding babies
Babies and toddlers who are breastfed or receive breastmilk should continue to have a daily vitamin D supplement of 10 ug (400 IU) until two years of age.
Why is vitamin D important for babies?
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient to help build and maintain strong bones and teeth. A daily vitamin D supplement will help prevent against vitamin D deficiency rickets (a condition where the bones are soft and weak), which can lead to:
- skeletal deformities (e.g. bowed legs)
- increased risk of fractures
- dental problems
When should I start giving my baby a vitamin D supplement?
A vitamin D supplement of 10 ug (400 IU) should be given to your baby within the first few days after birth.
What should I look for when buying a vitamin D supplement?
A single vitamin D3 supplement (without other vitamins) is recommended.
Some liquid supplements require you to place a drop of vitamin D on the breast and others need you to fill use a dropper filled to 400 IU. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and only use the dropper that comes with the vitamin D supplement purchased.
For older children, chewable vitamin D tablets are available.
Does my baby get enough vitamin D from sunlight?
Although sunshine (ultraviolet light) allows skin cells to convert vitamin D into an active state, there are several reasons this alone is not sufficient for babies:
- Halton Region is in the northern part of the world, so we don’t get enough sunshine throughout the year for babies to make the vitamin D they need through their skin.
- Clothing acts as a sun barrier.
- We keep babies out of direct sunlight because of their sensitive skin and to prevent skin cancer.
When can I stop giving my baby a vitamin D supplement?
After two years of age, a vitamin D supplement is no longer recommended. Your child’s eating patterns should follow Canada’s Food Guide (external link).
What foods contain vitamin D?
Some foods naturally offer vitamin D, including:
- eggs (yolk)
- fatty fish (tuna, salmon, trout, halibut, mackerel, sardines and herring)
- cod liver oil
In Canada, vitamin D is added to:
- cow’s milk, tofu and margarine
- some orange and apple juices
- some soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, goat’s milk and yogurt
Read food labels to see how much vitamin D a product provides.