Do babies need vitamins? It's a question I get asked often, and honestly- a question I asked myself, early on with my first baby. Do babies get everything they need, just through breast milk and formula? The answer isn't a simple one- pretty much, but sometimes no.
First and foremost, I need to stress I am not a doctor. Further, I don't know your kiddo and only you and your healthcare providers can decide what is best for you and your baby. But what I do know is that we are not always as nourished as we think we are.
Our food system is lacking, our soil is lacking, and therefore our diets are often lacking. Breast milk, and to a lesser extent, formula, is designed to nourish baby 100%, and it does a pretty darn good job at it in most cases. God designed our bodies beautifully. However, there are some areas and situations where you might want to consider supplementing.
1. Vitamin D
It was once thought that babies got all the Vitamin D they needed through breast milk. However, due to the lack of Vitamin D in our lives and food foods (due to lifestyle and in part, the foods we eat that no longer contain vitamin d like non-pastured eggs and conventional beef) it has been shown that breast milk alone does not require babies with adequate amounts of vitamin D. A 2008 report from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a daily intake of vitamin D of 400 IU/day for all infants and children beginning in the first few days of life. We keep it simple with a liquid (it's a fat-soluble vitamin) 1-drop vitamin D, providing all our sweet babe needs in just one drop per day.
When babies are delivered vaginally, they are immediately innocculated with healthy bacteria from the mother's birth canal (gross, but true-and pretty amazing!). Further, the amniotic fluid baby lives in is colonized by the mother's gut bacteria. In general, babies are getting good bacteria from the start; and then with continued breastfeeding, they are receiving probiotics from their mother's milk, as well. However, babies who were delivered via C-Section, or the baby or the mother received antibiotics during labor or the first few days of life do not receive that early innoculation; and babies who are formula fed tend to be lacking in breastmilk-specific probiotics (see more). In these cases, a probiotic may be something to discuss with your pediatrician. This one is our favorite.
This is one essential mineral that isn't necessary for the first six months, whether baby is breast or formula fed; but babies' stores of iron, zinc and copper drop significantly after six months. It's extremely important to watch infants' intake of iron-and zinc-rich foods (animal foods are highest) when starting solid foods, so they do not become deficient (watching for signs of deficiency is important, too). Iron deficiency is common in babies, but preventable!
4. DHA/Fish Oil
DHA is essential for the growth and development of baby's brain and nervous system. Breastfed babies will receive DHA in the proportion of fatty acids in your diet (more reason to have a healthy diet while breastfeeding!). Most formulas these days are formulated with DHA. But if your diet or formula is lacking, a DHA supplement might be something to check in with your doctor about (especially if you do not eat seafood or animal products).
In conclusion, babies don't need much- you're doing the best you can do by feeding baby nourishing breast milk (and keeping yourself healthy) or the highest quality formula you can find. But if baby is lacking, there are ways to boost their health through simple, supplements (and real food, of course!).
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