Babies double their birth weight by the time they are four or six months old. Proper nutrition is vital for weight gain, but it is normal for parents to worry about nutritional deficiencies, especially new parents. While your child is likely okay if they meet base weight metrics, one nutrient parents might want to concern themselves with is vitamin D.
Vitamin D does not exist naturally in many foods. Additionally, while many professionals advocate for breastfeeding, breast milk does not contain adequate nutrients, meaning parents will need to supplement the vitamin to meet their baby's needs.
Why Do Babies Need Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is vital for calcium absorption and bone development. When babies are vitamin D deficient, they are at risk of weak bones and medical issues, such as rickets.
Breastfed babies present more significant risks for vitamin D deficiencies than formula-fed babies because the formula contains an adequate amount of vitamin D. While breast milk is ideal, parents will need to supplement feedings with a supplement, such as Wellements Organic Vitamin D Drops. Even infants receiving a combination of breast milk and formula will need supplements to ensure adequate vitamin D levels.
How Much Vitamin D Do Babies Need?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, newborns and infants need a minimum of 400 IUs daily or ten mcg. The AAP also recommends babies stay on the recommended dose until they are drinking whole milk daily, at least four cups.
You need to be careful to stick to the recommended dosage. Too much vitamin D can be problematic. According to the FDA, too much vitamin D can result in several unpleasant side effects, including:
- Excessive thirst
- Joint and muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
- Frequent urination
Where Can Babies Get Vitamin D?
While vitamin D is available through sunlight, doctors do not recommend exposing your baby's tender skin to potentially harmful UV rays. Babies under six months should not spend time in direct sun.
Your little one should get vitamin D from food sources and supplements. Formula-fed babies will likely not have vitamin D issues because formulas are fortified with nutrients. Breastfed babies will need to take a prescribed supplement.
Once your little one eats solid foods, you can increase vitamin D intake by offering various foods and drinks. Some of the most common sources of vitamin D include:
- Orange juice
- Fortified foods
How To Detect a Vitamin D Deficiency in Babies & Kids
Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency in babies is prevalent globally. If a baby is vitamin D deficient, they may develop rickets, but that is not the only potential symptom of the health problem. Other signs of a deficiency include:
- Muscle weakness
- Growth failure
- Respiratory infections
Only a doctor can diagnose deficiencies. As with adults, your baby will likely need a blood test to determine the cause of their symptoms.
Solving Your Child's Vitamin D Deficiency
The treatment for vitamin D deficiencies depends on age and the severity of the condition. For instance, a child under three months of age presenting with rickets may be prescribed a 2,000 IU supplement for several months to restore or normalize vitamin D levels. Only your child's pediatrician can recommend or prescribe the correct treatment for nutritional deficiencies.
Vitamin D is vital to healthy development. While many women choose to breastfeed, many do not realize the importance of vitamin D supplementation. If you are concerned about your child's nutritional needs, consult your pediatrician and ask about supplements.