Questions and Answers about Vitamin D Supplementation for Infants
Q. Why do babies need vitamin D?
A. Vitamin D is needed to help your body develop healthy strong bones. Recent literature suggests that it may also be important in preventing numerous diseases such as Cancers, Multiple Sclerosis, Asthma, and many others.
Q: Why is it necessary to give vitamin D supplements to my breastfeeding baby? Doesn’t human milk have all the essential nutrients for babies?
A. Human milk may not contain enough vitamin D to meet daily requirements. With this exception, human milk does contain all of the essential nutrients for babies.
Q: If my baby goes out in the sunlight every day or every other day for an hour or so, isn’t that enough?
A: In virtually all of Canada, and many parts of the U.S. there is not enough sunlight exposure year-round to produce enough vitamin D. Furthermore, sun exposure carries an added risk of increasing the chance of developing skin cancers later on in life. For these reasons, taking vitamin D supplements is recommended.
Q: When should I start giving the vitamin D drops?
A: You should start some time during the first 2 months of life.
Q: How often do I give the vitamin D drops?
A: You should give the drops once a day, every day. But, if you forget one day, it is all right. The vitamin D is stored in the baby and there will be enough to make up for the occasional missed day.
Q: If I give the vitamin drops to the baby, will the baby not want to breastfeed?
A: The drops should not interfere with breastfeeding.
Q: Don’t the vitamin drops taste bad?
A: Some vitamin drops do have a strong taste, there are, however, formulations that have no taste at all.
Q: How long do I keep giving the vitamin D drops?
A: You should keep giving it until at least 12 months of age. If, at that point, your child is not getting sufficient vitamin D from food sources, it is advisable to continue giving the vitamin D past 12 months of age.
Q: I am concerned that my older children do not get enough vitamin D from food sources. How can they get extra vitamin D?
A: There are the same concerns for protecting the skin of these children from direct sunlight exposure to prevent skin cancer later in life. Any child or adult who is not getting sufficient vitamin D from food sources should take vitamin D supplements.
Source: AAP literature. Minor modifications by Dr. Flanders.