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First Year

Last Reviewed September 11, 2014 Breastfeeding

Nutrition

Vitamin D and Your Baby

A daily vitamin D supplement is recommended for exclusively and partially breastfed babies, from birth to one year of age. All exclusively breastfed babies need 400 IU of liquid vitamin D once a day until one year of age. The amount of Vitamin D partially breastfed babies need depends on how much breast milk substitute (formula) they are drinking (see chart below).

Why is vitamin D important for babies?
When do I start giving my baby a vitamin D supplement?
What should I look for when buying a vitamin D supplement?
What foods contain vitamin D?
Does my baby get enough vitamin D from sunlight?
When can I stop giving my baby a vitamin D supplement?
What if I supplement my breastfeeding and sometimes give a breast milk substitute (formula)?

Why is vitamin D important for babies?

Vitamin D is important for proper development of bones. Vitamin D protects against ‘rickets’, a condition in which leg bones become soft and bowlegged.

When do I start giving my baby a vitamin D supplement?

A vitamin D supplement of 400 IU should be given to your baby within the first few days after he’s born. Continue to give your baby a vitamin D supplement until he’s one year of age or until his diet includes at least 400 IU of vitamin D from food.

What should I look for when buying a vitamin D supplement?

A single vitamin D3 supplement (without other vitamins) in a liquid (drop) format is recommended. Some supplements require you to place a drop of vitamin D on the breast and others need you to fill a dropper to 400 IU and place it in your baby’s mouth. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and only use the dropper that comes with the vitamin D supplement purchased.

What foods contain vitamin D?

Some of the foods that have vitamin D in them naturally are:

  • Eggs
  • Liver
  • Fatty fish (tuna, salmon and halibut)

In Canada, vitamin D is also added to cow’s milk, tofu, some yogurts and cereals. It’s important to read the food labels to see what’s been added.

Does my baby get enough vitamin D from sunlight?

Skin uses sunshine (Ultra Violet light) to make vitamin D and that’s why it’s often called the ‘sunshine’ vitamin. The Region of Peel 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. We also use clothes and keep babies out of direct sunlight because of their sensitive skin and to prevent skin cancer.

Remember that sunscreen shouldn’t be used on babies under six months of age.

When can I stop giving my baby a vitamin D supplement?

Once your baby is one year of age and is eating a variety of foods and drinking 2 cups (500 mL) of homogenized milk, she will be getting enough vitamin D. At this time you can stop giving her a vitamin D supplement.

What if I supplement my breastfeeding and sometimes give a breast milk substitute (formula)?

For babies partially breastfed, the recommended amount of vitamin D supplement depends on how much breast milk substitute (formula) your baby is getting. Formula is fortified with vitamin D, so the amount your baby receives will determine if your baby needs a vitamin D supplement.

Everyday your baby drinks: Amount of vitamin D to give each day:
Only breast milk 400 IU
Less than 500 mL of formula 400 IU
Between 500-1000 mL of formula 200 IU *
1000 mL or more of formula No additional vitamin D is needed
* Or you can give baby 400 IU every other day

Visit BreastfeedingInPeel.ca for helpful tips and instructional videos about breastfeeding.

For more information:

Call Region of Peel Public Health at: 905-799-7700
Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Caledon residents call free of charge at: 905-584-2216
To speak with a Public Health Nurse


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Revised: Thursday October 02 2014

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