Having a baby is a big responsibility and you spend months preparing for the big event. Once the baby arrives, you find out you have even more to learn than you could have known beforehand. You may be wondering if you should give multivitamins to your infants, especially if you are already breastfeeding. If the answer is yes, which vitamins, and in what dosages?
Vitamins for Breastfed Infants
You may be thinking that breast milk is the most nutritious source of nutrients possible for a baby, and it certainly is. However, even the most health-conscious mothers cannot always include every vitamin and nutrient in their daily diets that is needed to help their little one be the healthiest they can be. In the earliest days, months, and years of a human’s life, they have the highest capacity for the development of their bodies and minds. They need this period for a strong foundation in bone structure, skin health, cell development, and full use of all segments of their brains. Vitamin drops are the most effective way to administer multivitamins to infants. The most valuable to prioritize are Vitamin D, Iron, and Vitamin B12.
When baby formula was introduced in the 1950s, people believed it to be the end-all, be-all for baby nutrition. They administered the formula without question and it became much more popular than breastfeeding. In the past two decades, many women have gone back to breastfeeding, because they believe in the strength of the connection between mothers and babies.
They believe mothers can, through a healthy, balanced diet, provide their offspring with the truest nutrients they need. This is often the case; however, baby formula has been significantly improved since the 1950s and it is fortified with Vitamin D. Infants who consume 17 ounces per day of baby formula do not need to take a Vitamin D drops, while the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now recommends infants to have a daily dose of Vitamin D drops by the time they reach 2 months of age.
Why Do Infants Need Vitamin D Drops?
Vitamin D is key to the maintenance of bone strength. It goes hand-in-hand with calcium, because, when combined with calcium, it optimizes the body for absorption of both nutrients. If your child has a Vitamin D deficiency, they can be at risk for suffering from rickets, which is a skeletal disorder, caused by malnutrition. The bone structure of children with rickets is altered and can even be distorted. This often results in soft bones, stunted growth, and even scoliosis. Children who are no longer breastfeeding, but are eating solid foods are not at risk for rickets because all cereals, breads, and grains have Vitamin D added to them.
Another option to make sure your baby is getting the necessary Vitamin D is through sunshine’s natural resource. You must be sure to monitor the amount of direct contact with sunlight your baby receives, however. Since bright sunlight is a leading cause of skin cancer, it is recommended to protect infants with sunscreen, especially those with light skin, who are at risk for sunburns. For this reason, it may be a safer option to regularly use sunscreen and to make up for the lack of sunlight with some vitamin drops. So, if your infant is breastfeeding, you should speak with your child’s pediatrician about what kind of Vitamin D dosage to be giving them.
Both breast milk and baby formula are rich in iron, so your newborn baby will not need an iron supplement, but after the first 6 months (or when you stop breastfeeding your baby), they should be receiving iron vitamin drops for infants. It is imperative that infants receive regular doses of iron because the effects of iron deficiency are great.
First, iron deficiency anemia can be quite serious. This condition means the individual has a low red blood cell count and results in a lack of oxygen to the body’s tissues. Symptoms include weakness and fatigue, moodiness (if your infant is particularly fussy and has a hard time sleeping through the night, you may want to look into this as a potential cause), and a poor appetite. If a child suffers from iron deficiency, they can be at risk for problems later in life, like learning disorders, behavioral issues, or developmental delays.
Awareness for this supplement is one of the most important because deficiencies can develop early, but the symptoms will not be visible until it is already too late to undo the damage. Lack of Vitamin B12 can cause vomiting, lethargy, and low muscle tone, which results in developmental delays or even regressions.
Positive results brought by an adequate intake of infant Vitamin B12 drops are strengthened neurological abilities. With the right dosage, your child can have plenty of energy and a strong metabolism.
Folic acid is derived from the natural mineral, folate, which aids in the production of the DNA in red blood cells. It strengthens your child’s brain and spinal cord, so it is vital that your baby gets adequate folic acid. It is recommended that you begin taking folic acid supplements early on in your pregnancy to be sure the baby gets access to it from the beginning.
You should be taking 400 mcg in your first three months of pregnancy, 600 mcg in the later months of your pregnancy, and then 500 mcg during your infant's first 6 months of life (or for the duration of breastfeeding). Throughout your pregnancy and your child’s first year, you should be sure to eat plenty of fortified cereals and grains, and dark green, leafy vegetables for added amounts of the beneficial minerals.
There are risks involved if your infant does not receive adequate amounts of folic acids. During the developmental stages, the neural tube may not close correctly, resulting in spina bifida, which means the vertebrae are not fully formed. Anencephaly is another condition caused by folate deficiency, which means major parts of the brain are not fully developed. Administering folic acid vitamin drops for infants could save your baby from low birth weight, cleft lip and palate, and heart disease.
In order to ensure a well-rounded, adequate vitamin intake that your baby needs, you must be sure to provide your infant with the fatty acids it can get from Omega 3, which contains the essential fats, EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid). Both types of fat are important, but DHA is essential during pregnancy and during a baby’s first months of life. DHA is most commonly found in oily fish like salmon or anchovies, but your body is only able to absorb a small amount directly from food, so a supplement can be a good option, especially when you have breastfed babies.
DHA has many benefits, some of which are the reduction of heart disease risk and the prevention of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD). Studies have been done to test the levels of DHA in children who have been diagnosed with ADHD. Those who were given higher doses showed signs of improvement from the disorder. If your child has adequate amounts of vitamin supplements of DHA from Omega 3, their chance of developing ADHD or heart disease at a later age is significantly reduced.
EPA provides many benefits to children as well. It can strengthen the cellular formation and later on can keep inflammation at bay, protecting the body from injuries.
Vitamins for Premature Infants
Premature infants need even higher immune support than other infants because they are more prone to illnesses or developmental delays. The most important thing is not to worry, but rather to focus on making sure the infant has adequate supplies of Vitamin C to fight against infection and Vitamin E to prevent hemorrhaging. You must carry out doses of Vitamin E with caution. Studies have shown that too much Vitamin E can increase the risk of sepsis, which can be a life-threatening infection. Some signs that indicate sepsis are low temperature and a grayish color in the baby’s skin. These symptoms are not exclusive to sepsis, so do not panic if you see them in your child. However, if you recognize these signs and notice that your child seems more ill or weak than usual, you should contact a health professional.
Vitamins for Vegan Breastfed Infants
If you are passionate about eating only plant-based foods and are wondering how that will fit into your new life as a parent, there’s no need to worry. Of course, you will have to be intentional about eating a well-rounded diet. When you are pregnant and breastfeeding, you will need to make sure you consume enough calories. Try to incorporate beans and nuts into every meal, along with protein-rich fruits like bananas and green vegetables, which are packed with natural vitamin sources. Every parent should follow this advice, not just vegan parents!
When raising a vegan baby, take extra care to give your child Vitamin D and iron supplements. Combining Vitamin C with iron will increase the potency of the iron and give your child an extra boost of energy, ability to focus, and a regular body temperature.
If you are vegan but do not breastfeed your baby, there is a non-dairy alternative to classic baby formula you can give them. It is a soy-based formula, so it is a good idea to discuss this option with your healthcare professional, since there is some research linking infants’ consumption of soy to Kawasaki Disease. This is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation of the arteries, and can cause health problems with the heart.
Vitamins for Formula-Fed Babies
There is an exorbitant amount of information and opinions in regards to childcare, how to feed babies, and especially, controversy about whether parents should feed their babies with baby formula or breast milk. In some groups, differently opinionated people take sides and in some cases shame the other parents for choosing a different method. This is unfortunate since both methods of giving nutrients to infants are very healthy options. Formula is a healthy alternative to breast milk. In fact, it combines all the necessary amounts of Vitamin D that breast milk lacks. So, if you are feeding your baby with formula, you must not give them additional Vitamin D supplements.
Incorporating Multivitamins Into Solid Foods
The standard recommended age to begin giving your baby solid foods is 6 months. However, you as a parent can use your instincts, as well as some monumental points in the child’s life that indicate they are ready to begin moving on from a pure liquid diet. They will be able to hold up their heads on their own and hold themselves in a sitting position without a lot of help. If you try to spoon a little baby food or applesauce into their mouths and they are able to coordinate themselves to swallow the food rather than spitting it out, they may be ready for something more solid. Sometimes you will see a child chewing their fists, and they will want and need more milk than usual, which means their bodies are craving something solid.
At first, your child will still gain all the most important nutrients and vitamins from breast milk or formula. Eating solid food is purely for learning right at the beginning. Eventually, when they grow accustomed to swallowing and tasting regular food, you will start to decrease the amount of breast milk and replace it with soft, appropriate vegetables and fruits, such as squash, sweet potatoes, and bananas. Remember to keep the food plain; do not add any salt or sugar. Sugar especially is detrimental to babies and young children because it can form early addictions to sugar that are difficult to do away with at a later age. As their teeth are coming, sugar can also cause tooth decay.
As for incorporating vitamins into a baby’s new diet, Vitamin A is necessary for young children because it gives them clear vision, especially in low light. It is not recommended for infants who are breastfeeding since breast milk and baby formula contain a sufficient supply. However, once you stop breastfeeding, you should begin implementing Vitamin A drops for the benefit of healthy skin.
Vitamins for Young Children
As your children grow older and learn to develop habits of their own, you should instruct them on the importance of taking daily multivitamins. It’s never too early to learn healthy habits, and to know what foods provide specific benefits to avoid health problems. This is a good time to begin implementing multivitamin gummies for children. They enjoy taking them because they taste like candy come in various fun shapes and sizes. Adding healthy life habits in a fun and exciting way is the perfect method to introduce a positive lifestyle.
When your toddlers start forming opinions of their own and develop their own likes and dislikes, feeding them healthy foods can often be a challenge. They may decide they dislike vegetables, and it can be a stressful time to try to convince them to eat these foods they do not like. Some parents would say you must be firm and make them eat it, but that can result in tears and unpleasant situations. By giving your young children a daily dose of multivitamins, you can often avoid these times of fighting or crying over what foods to eat, and just enjoy the time you have with your child.
How to Choose Which Vitamins are Right for Your Baby
It can be overwhelming and time-consuming to perform all the research about what vitamins to give to your baby when they are newborns, then once they reach 6 months of age, then again when they begin to eat solid foods. The work is worth the effort since proper vitamins are necessary for a thriving, happy, and healthy childhood. It is a good option to administer a daily multivitamin for infants since they are already measured out according the recommended dosages. The crucial vitamins are included in all our multivitamins. You should also contact a healthcare professional to discuss the personal vitamin combinations for you and your family.