Baby's First Year · Breastfeeding · Nutrition

Vitamin D and your baby: What you need to know

adult holding a toddler with a sun hat

Now that it’s getting warm & sunny out you may be asking – does my breastfed baby still need a vitamin D supplement?

Yes, even though it’s spring and soon it’ll be summer, it’s still recommended that a breastfed baby under two years old get a vitamin D supplement every day. Though it’s true that the body can naturally make vitamin D from exposure to the sun, the amount that’s made is limited.

So, babies don’t make enough vitamin D to meet their needs all year long. And in order to protect baby’s skin, it’s never a good idea to put them in direct sunlight.

It’s better to be sun safe and keep baby well protected by staying in the shade and covered.

Vitamin D is needed to ensure baby’s bones are strong, and helps baby to protect against infection by keeping their immune system healthy. So it’s critical that baby gets enough vitamin D in the first years of life. In addition to eating and drinking foods rich in Vitamin D, a daily supplement of 400 IU (10µg) should be given to all breastfed babies until the age of two.

The easiest supplements to give are vitamin D drops. You can place one drop on your nipple before latching baby for a feed. There are many products on the market so it’s important to shop around to ensure you’re getting the best value.

  • The number of drops or droplets. Some products only give you enough for 3 months or a 90 day supply while others provide enough supplement to last the year (365 drops).
  • The dose (400 IU or 10 µg). A higher dose isn’t recommended for babies and young children.
  • The price. Prices usually range between $15 and 20. But the amount of supplement you get for the price you pay can be really different.

Since vitamin D is fat-soluble most supplements will also list an oil like coconut or olive oil along with vitamin D on the ingredient list. The oil may appear as “medium-chain-triglyceride”, which is just the chemical name for certain oils, so don’t be alarmed.

Did you know that Health Canada, the Canadian Pediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada and the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada all recommend breastfed babies in Canada be supplemented with vitamin D?

Once your baby turns two, speak to your baby’s healthcare provider to determine if a vitamin D supplement still needs to be given. By this age, a child should be getting vitamin D in her diet from food.

Questions?  eChat with our Public Health Nurse or call (416) 338-7600.

Leave a Reply