Do babies need vitamins or supplements?
3 Essential nutrients for infants-
Is a pediatric gastroenterologist at the Children’s Center for Digestive Health Care / GI Care for Kids, whose books on nutrition for parents led him to start Nutrition4Kids with his co-founders.
Infants receive most of their nutrients from breast milk or formula. Yet additional supplements may be needed in a baby's diet because of their rapid growth.
Iron is important for making red blood cells for a baby's growing body. Breast milk contains enough iron for babies during their first 6 months. Introductions of solid food should start with iron-rich foods to make sure babies are getting enough iron to supply their red blood cells and brains.
Iron is added to commercial infant formulas to make sure a baby gets enough in her or his diet. The formulas actually have extra because only a small amount is absorbed. And then by 6 months, they too benefit from adding iron-rich foods.
Just about everyone in North America needs extra Vitamin D, including babies. Even if a breastfeeding mom gets enough vitamin D in her diet, very little of it winds up in breast milk. As a result, the American Academy of the Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition suggests 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin D be given to breastfeeding infants. We agree, unless the mother is supplementing with 2000 IU daily, which has been shown to provide about 400 IU for the baby.
Most infant formulas contain 400 IU vitamin D if the baby is drinking 32 ounces. If the baby is taking less, supplementation may be needed.
There's some interesting research that supplementing a little more vitamin D may provide additional health benefits to your baby. In Japan, babies receiving 2000 IU had less risk of developing diabetes for 30 years. And while more testing is needed to prove that, the research reminds us that Vitamin D does a lot more than just strengthen our bones.
Fluoride supplementation is not recommended for babies under 6 months old. Babies older than 6 months only require supplementation if they live in an area where the drinking water contains less than 0.3 parts per million of fluoride. Check online with your city water system to see if your local water is fluoridated.
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