Originally published: June 26th/2018; Updated:
It’s all about vitamin D drops for infants (and milk!)
You’ve brought your new tiny baby back home.
You’ve survived childbirth (you rock!).
Now for the simple task of figuring it out…parenting! Don’t worry, you got this! and we’re here to help.
Let’s start with an important nutrition tip: give your infant vitamin D drops.
Does my infant need vitamin D drops?
Is your baby exclusively breastfed?
Your baby will need to receive 400IU of vitamin D everyday. Breastmilk doesn’t contain enough vitamin D to ensure adequate status for baby.
Did you know? breastmilk vitamin D content depends on mothers? That’s right, mom’s own vitamin D status can fluctuate by season and affect how much vitamin D her infant gets.
Vitamin D drops for infants providing 400IU/day vitamin D is recommended.
Is you baby formula fed?
Formula contains about 100IU of vitamin D per 8oz.
To get the recommended 400 IU per day, your baby needs to drink 32oz of formula over 24 hours.
What would this look like in a practical sense? It’s the equivalent of 8 bottles of 4 oz each for example.
If your baby is drinking less than that volume, they will need a supplement of vitamin D drops for infants.
Is your baby mixed fed (breastmilk + formula)?
Mix feeding is likely not going to provide baby enough vitamin D.
Why not? Breast milk has very little vitamin D, and its unlikely baby drinks 32oz of formula on top of breast milk.
In short, play it safe and offer an infant vitamin D drop supplement providing 400IU everyday.
For most infants, we recommend a 400 IU/day vitamin D drops supplement.
Sunshine vitamin: can my baby produce vitamin D if exposed to the sun?
Our bodies are able to produce vitamin D with exposure to the UVB rays of the sun. But it is not recommended to expose young infants to the sun because their skin is thin and fragile.
Applying sunscreen to infants that young isn’t recommended either. Yes, even though it protects against UVB rays.
Instead, stick to vitamin D drops for infants to ensure your baby gets enough daily.
Vitamin D supplementation is a safer strategy than exposing infants to the sun
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D helps the absorption of calcium, and because calcium is the predominant building block of the skeleton, vitamin D is necessary for strong bones and teeth.
There are 2 types of vitamin D in our food chain : vitamin D2 and vitamin D3.
Vitamin D2 is obtained from plant-based sources while vitamin D3 is obtained from animal-based sources.
Most of our food sources are vitamin D3, like fatty fish, egg yolk, milk (mandatory fortified in Canada), and other fortified foods.
Both vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 are adequate to raise baby’s blood vitamin D concentration.
How much vitamin D should I give my infant?
Health Canada recommends to give 400 IU of vitamin D per day. This amount is enough to maintain bone health and calcium metabolism in infants.
Look on the bottle of the supplement you bought to know how much to give to baby.
Most vitamin D drops for infants are in liquid form. You dispense the supplement using a dropper. Droppers generally release one drop at a time, or a pre-dosed amount.
Either way, take the time to read the supplement label to ensure you know the right dose. This helps make sure your infant will get 400 IU/day of vitamin D.
Vitamin D supplements for older kids and adults often contain higher doses, up to 1 000 IU/dose.
We recommend buying vitamin D drops for infants, to ensure appropriate dosage. It makes things easier for new and sleep-deprived parents.
Also, only buy supplements with a Drug Identification Number (DIN) or a Natural Product Number (NPN). These registration numbers are only assigned to products reviewed by Health Canada.
Baby needs a supplement of 400IU/d of vitamin D. Read the supplement bottle to understand how to give that dose.
I forgot to give my infant a vitamin D drops!
It’s okay if you forget most days, or you didn’t know to supplement your baby. Sometimes a complicated birth experience can leave you worrying about other things. Again, it is okay!
Start now. Offer a supplement today to your baby and continue to give it daily.
Vitamin D is essential in calcium absorption and metabolism. Vitamin D deficient infants can develop problems that are difficult to reverse.
Examples include: weak tooth enamel, fragile bones, slow growth, and a delay in closing of the soft spot on the head, etc.
So, sometimes forgetting to offer vitamin D drops isn’t the end of the world. But these points highlight the importance of vitamin D recommendations!
Some folks (perhaps even your parents!), swear that they didn’t give vitamin D drops to their infants. Heck, they all grew up fine, right?
Well, nutrition science has since evolved, so why not reap the benefits?
Here are suggestions to help you remember to give the supplement to your baby:
Keep the vitamin D drops bottle near your nursing station
Place the vitamin D drops bottle near your own medication that you take daily
Put the vitamin D drops near your coffee machine or anything that you use daily
Use an alarm or a daily reminder in your calendar, nothing like a beeping phone to keep you on top of it!
Buy more than one bottle of infant vitamin D drops so you have easy access in your favourite nursing spots
The challenging part is to remember to give the supplement to baby everyday!
Can mom take vitamin D instead of baby?
It seems safer to supplement babies with moderate doses of vitamin D drops.
Vitamin D drop options for vegetarian and vegan families
Vitamin D supplements are usually made of vitamin D3. It is generally extracted from lanolin which comes from sheep wool. It is not vegetarian nor vegan.
Companies keep innovating to offer products that align with their needs and values. Vegans and vegetarian parents have options!
Vitamin D drops for infants until when?
Fatty fish like salmon and tuna (fresh or canned)
Eggs with the yolk
Plant-based milk (but do check the label to ensure vitamin D fortification)
Dairy products made with fortified milk.
Offer a vitamin D supplement until baby eats a balanced diet, likely around 2 years of age.
1,000 IU/d (for babies 0-6months old)
1,500IU/d (for babies 7-12months old)
2,500IU/d (for babies 1-3years old).
Currently, there is no convincing evidence supporting doses greater than 400IU/d of vitamin D in babies, without additional risks.
Tripkovic L et al. Comparison of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 supplementation in raising serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D status: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2012 May 2;95(6):1357-64.
Jäpelt RB. Jakobsen J. Vitamin D in plants: a review of occurrence, analysis, and biosynthesis. Frontiers in Plant Science 2013
Gallo S et al. Effect of different dosages of oral vitamin D supplementation on vitamin D status in healthy, breastfed infants: randomized trial. Jama. 2013 May 1;309(17):1785-92.
Kovacs CS. Bone development and mineral homeostasis in the fetus and neonate: roles of the calciotropic and phosphotropic hormones. Physiological Reviews. 2014 Oct;94(4):1143-218.
Kovacs CS. Maternal mineral and bone metabolism during pregnancy, lactation, and post-weaning recovery. Physiological reviews. 2016 Feb 17;96(2):449-547.
Hollis BW et al. Maternal Versus Infant Vitamin D Supplementation During Lactation : A Randomized Controlled Trial. Pediatrics 2015;136:4.