Should you give your baby vitamins? The question about vitamins for babies is a big one, hotly debated among parents. Most infants do get all the vitamins they need from the food they eat. However, those who were born prematurely or have some health problems might benefit from a daily vitamin supplement. Vitamins are essential to a body for strong bones, healthy teeth, and preventing anemia.
The Necessity of Vitamins for Babies
Does your baby need vitamins? The bottom line is this: It isn’t something you should do unless your doctor recommends it. Your doctor can easily tell through blood tests and other diagnostic examinations whether or not your baby has enough of certain vitamins in his body. However, experts also believe that a supplement will do no harm for your baby. As long as the vitamin supplement doesn’t exceed the recommended daily allowance of a certain vitamin, it’s probably just fine to give to your child.
However, some babies do need vitamins. This is especially true of babies who might have health conditions that don’t allow them to absorb or process vitamins effectively. This can be more common among babies who were born prematurely. Sometimes very picky eaters, or those with breastfeeding mothers who eat a vegan diet, might need a little extra vitamins.
6 Main Types of Vitamins for Babies
The vitamins for babies that are suitable for your child depend upon the particular health issue. If your child has no health problems, a simple multivitamin will be just fine. But some babies need more of a certain thing; for instance, a baby who is being fed vegetarian meals might need more Vitamins B12 and D, as well as riboflavin and calcium.
These are some of the most common supplemental vitamins for babies, and when you might need to use them:
1. Vitamin D
This can be a tricky one, because it can be tough for your baby to get enough. The best source is sunlight on the skin, but of course, we need to shield babies from the sun! Other sources include fish and eggs. Some cereals contain extra vitamin D, and those can be a great way to help your child get enough. Once a baby is weaned from infant formula, a dropper of 7-8.5 micrograms per day can do the trick.
2. Vitamin A
To get the most vitamin A for your child, look to natural sources, such as fortified fat spreads, dairy products of all kinds, carrots, sweet potatoes, mangoes, and dark green veggies. This is great for helping with vision, healthy skin and a strong immune system.
3. Vitamin C
It is easy to get enough vitamin C into your child simply through diet. A child who eats plenty of oranges, strawberries, kiwi, tomatoes, peppers, and broccoli will probably get more than enough vitamin C in their diet naturally.
This is one of the most important vitamins your baby can take. Iron helps prevent developmental delays, learning and behavioral problems, and some physical ailments. Babies can usually get plenty of iron from breastmilk and formula, and then from fortified cereals. Remember that premature babies often need an iron supplement, regardless of their diet.
5. DHA, an important omega-3
This important fatty acid matters for brain and eye development. Fortunately, if a mother gets enough of this in her diet, then the baby will get plenty through breastmilk. Formula is also fortified with this. Moms who don’t get enough fatty acid might consider a supplement to make sure they pass enough to their baby, especially if the mother is vegetarian or vegan.
Once your baby has those first teeth coming through, it’s time for fluoride. Try to give your baby fluoridated water, as the supplements can lead to permanent staining of the teeth, even the adult teeth. If your baby can’t get enough fluoride from the water he or she is drinking – for instance, if your baby drinks only water from a well – then it’s time to talk to your doctor about the appropriate supplements.
Want to learn more about vitamins for babies and how these vitamins affect development? This video can teach you a great deal:
FAQs About Vitamin Supplements for Babies
As you might imagine, there are many questions about vitamins for babies. Here are some of the most common ones:
1. Do I Need to Give My Baby Vitamins If He's a Picky Eater?
That depends. Some children are determined they will not eat anything green, or anything resembling veggies. If that’s the case, you might want to opt for a supplement for your own peace of mind. In most cases, however, babies get plenty of vitamins from the foods they eat, even if they seem to be very picky about what they are willing to put into their mouths. To be absolutely sure, speak to your doctor, who might be able to run blood tests and determine if vitamin levels are okay.
2. What Should I Be Concerned About?
When it comes to vitamins, it pays to be careful. Manufacturers create vitamins to look like candy and taste just as sweet. That is good when you want your baby to take them, but bad when your baby really thinks they are candy and wants to eat a lot of them. Some vitamins can be lethal if your baby has too much of them. For instance, an overdose of iron can make a baby gravely sick. To avoid the possibility of problems like this, be absolutely certain to lock the vitamins up on a high shelf at all times. Never call the vitamins “candy” and make it clear that the child gets only one at a time, handed out by you. If you suspect that your child has taken vitamins without your knowledge or administration, call your poison control center and ask for assistance.