Is It Necessary to Give Vitamins to Babies?

Breast milk's a very complete food from a nutritional point of view. However, there are situations in which it may be necessary to give vitamins to babies. Learn more!
Is It Necessary to Give Vitamins to Babies?

Last update: 07 September, 2021

Many mothers wonder if it’s necessary to give vitamins to babies to complement their diet. During the early stages of life, feeding usually takes place exclusively in the form of breastfeeding, so some women may find it insufficient in terms of micronutrients.

However, you should keep in mind that breast milk is the most complete food for infants. It contains all the nutrients necessary for proper growth. Except in cases of problems with lactation, such as low milk production, the energy and substances it provides are sufficient.

Vitamin content of breast milk

As a general rule, breast milk contains all the vitamins a child needs for proper growth. According to experts, it’s the most complete and adequate food, according to a study published in the journal Current Opinion in Pediatrics. Not only does it contain nutrients, but also bioactive substances that promote the proper functioning of the immune system.

A mother breastfeeding her newborn.

However, it’s true that there’s one vitamin that’s not present in this food, or at least not in the amounts necessary for your baby. This is vitamin D, a nutrient that also has hormonal functions.

The best way to get the right dose of vitamin D is to promote sun exposure, which is why it’s essential to take babies outdoors on a regular basis. Ultraviolet radiation stimulates the endogenous synthesis of vitamin D, thus meeting requirements without problems.

However, it’s not possible in all countries to ensure frequent exposure to sunlight for infants, especially due to climatic conditions. This can lead to a deficit of this element. To avoid this, experts have suggested the alternative of vitamin supplementation.

Vitamin supplementation in infants

According to a study that appeared in the journal Nutrients, vitamin D supplementation in infants can be positive if they’re deficient in the nutrient. This nutritional strategy helps to prevent immune and hormonal imbalances, thus reducing the incidence of certain complex illnesses.

Nevertheless, it’s always advisable to consult a professional before offering supplements to babies. Not all vitamin D products are suitable for children. Moreover, you don’t need to resort to this strategy in every case, nor at all times of the year.

Ideally, doctors will recommend supplementation when it’s impossible to meet solar radiation demands. Also, if there are signs of rickets, as this illness develops from the deficit of the nutrient.

At the same time, you should practice some caution with the use of sunscreen creams in infants. These products almost totally block the production of endogenous vitamin D, due to an excessive defense against sun radiation. For this reason, it’s important to ensure to expose your baby to light for a certain period of time without any sunscreen, although you should be sure to take preventive measures against skin damage.

Vitamin D dosage during supplementation

Doctors usually prescribe vitamin D supplements for infants under 6 months of age who don’t receive sufficient sun exposure. In these cases, they recommend oily solutions containing 400 IU of the nutrient per day. However, from the sixth month onward, the dosage pattern may vary, as many formula milks are fortified with vitamin D.

A mother walking down a path in the park with her baby in a stroller.

Even in the case of premature infants, there may be different needs. In this case, the dosage of the vitamin should adjust to the weight of the baby and the type of food they consume.

It’s important to give vitamins to babies

As you have seen, the administration of vitamin D in babies can be decisive in ensuring their proper development. It’s important to first consult with the doctor and administer the nutrient according to the time of year and how the child feeds.

In addition to this element, you shouldn’t supplement a baby’s diet with any other nutrient during the first stages of life. At least in the case of infants who don’t present any illnesses. Breast milk has all the nutrients necessary to meet the needs of the youngest infants.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.