Ultimate Vitamin Guide

Ultimate Newborn Vitamin Guide and How to Give Vitamins Naturally

One of the most common topics we cover with parents is how to make sure newborns are getting enough of what they need to grow and thrive. We made this ultimate newborn vitamin guide so that all moms can make it easy to know what vitamins to give babies so that they can foster a thriving brain and body. We also know that focusing on the natural stuff, like breastmilk and whole foods in the maternal diet can be a healthy way to make sure baby is getting enough. By reading this blog post you will learn what newborn vitamins are essential, and how to make sure your baby is getting enough vitamin sources naturally.

In this post you will find:

  • Does My Baby Need a Vitamin?
  • 2 Most Important Nutrients for a Newborn 
  • Your Newborn Baby Needs Vitamin D To Be Healthy
  • 4 Best Ways to Prevent your Baby from Becoming Iron Deficient 
  • Free Cheat Sheet for a Healthy Breastfeeding Diet
  • Vitamins Recommended for Breastfed Babies and Formula Fed Babies
  • I wish I knew More about B12 and Breastfeeding and This is Why
  • Top 2 Natural Vitamin Brands for Your Newborn Baby

Does My Newborn Baby Need a Vitamin?

You want to make sure that your baby is getting of everything that they need to grow and thrive. You may have seen advertisements for supplement drops for newborn babies and wondered, “Will my newborn need a vitamin?” The answer depends on what else you, or your baby is eating, so let’s break it down!

The recommended intakes of vitamins for all newborns are based on the intake of exclusively breastfed infants. The content of vitamins in infant formula are based on these recommended intakes. Because of the manufacturing process in infant formula, and the awesome breastmilk bioavailability (how easily digestible breastmilk is for babies) there are different recommendations for vitamin intake for breastfeeding/breastmilk feeding babies versus that of formula fed babies. Don’t worry, we will talk about this in a minute.

What newborn vitamins are most important?

There are 13 essential vitamins that the human body needs. There are 16 essential minerals that the human body needs. We know that Mommas have enough to worry about every second of the day so we want to discuss only the few vitamins that are most critical to your newborn’s health. These vitamins are also the ones that dietitians see most frequently as deficient in newborns.

2 Most Important Nutrients for a Newborn

Vitamin D

It is estimated that only 20% to 37% of infants in the United States meet the recommendation for vitamin D intake. Vitamin D is important for baby’s bone and teeth growth. Deficiency in vitamin D can lead to rickets. You can get some dietary vitamin D when you eat Sardines, herrings, tuna, egg yolks, fish oils, and fortified milk (or milk substitute) products. However, the major source of D vitamin is the body’s own production when exposed to sunlight. Because of growing bones, children need more vitamin D than adults. Baby vitamin D supplementation is often recommended in northern latitudes, such as Canada, Northern United States, and Scandinavia.

Bonus Momma question!>>>> Can I eat enough vitamin D so that my breastmilk has enough vitamin D for my baby?

It is currently recommended that infants receive 400 IU vitamin D from birth. How much vitamin D you are eating and getting from the sunshine influences the vitamin D levels in your breastmilk and thus the vitamin D blood levels of your baby. It is shown that without supplementation, a baby born to a mom with vitamin D deficiency will become vitamin D deficient sooner than a baby born to a mother with adequate vitamin D intake. Therefore, you can possibly meet the needs of your baby with the intake of enough vitamin D. Because dietary sources can be inadequate in many diets, coupled with the fact that we may not get enough vitamin D from the sun (i guess this is one bad thing about sunscreen!), a dietary supplement is likely needed for you to get enough vitamin D to increase the vitamin D levels of your breastmilk.  Infact, intake of up to 10 times the recommended adult vitamin D intake may be needed to promote sufficient transfer to your baby. More research is needed to determine recommendations for vitamin D supplementation for breastfeeding mothers so that baby’s vitamin D levels are sufficient for best health. If you wish to try to get enough vitamin D via diet and a vitamin supplement, so that you can pass along sufficient amounts to your baby, it is best to consult a dietitian or your healthcare provider for recommendations and monitoring.

Your Newborn Baby Needs Vitamin D To Be Healthy

  • All breastfed and partially breastfed infants should receive a supplement of 400 IU vitamin D per day starting within days of birth.
  • Formula-fed infants consuming less than 1 liter of formula should receive a supplement of 400 IU vitamin D per day.

 Iron

After your baby is born, his iron needs during infancy are high per unit of body weight. Iron deficiency during infancy has long-term, irreversible, negative consequences on cognitive and motor development. There is good news though, exclusively breastfed infants typically have adequate iron stores for approximately the first 4 to 6 months of life. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does, however, recommend that all breastfed infants receive 1 mg iron per kilogram per day starting at 4 months of age until iron-containing complementary foods have been introduced.

If you are choosing to formula feed your baby, the AAP recommends that all formula-fed infants receive only iron-fortified infant formula. Some moms ask if the iron in iron fortified formulas can cause irritability, colic, constipation, reflux, gas, or cramping in their babies. Studies show no evidence that the iron in iron-fortified formulas cause these negative symptoms. 

  1. At 4 months of age, supplement exclusively breastfed infants with 1 mg/kg per day of oral iron until age-appropriate iron-containing complementary foods are introduced.
  2. Partially breastfed infants receiving more than half of their diet as breastmilk should receive supplemental iron beginning at 4 months of age, at 1 mg/kg per day, until iron-containing complementary foods are introduced.
  3. Formula-fed infants should receive iron-fortified infant formula as their main beverage for the first year of life and do not require additional iron supplementation.
  4. Vitamin C–rich foods enhance iron absorption from non-heme (non-animal) sources.

Bonus Momma question!>>>> Does my newborn need extra fluoride?

Fluoride is needed to strengthen your baby’s teeth and bones. However, fluoride supplementation is not recommended before 6 months of age. If your local water supply has  less than 0.3 ppm fluoride in it, supplemental fluoride is recommended for infants beginning at 6 months of age. You should check with you local municipalities to learn the fluoride content of your water supply. Purchased bottled waters may contain fluoride but you should check the label for fluoride content.

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Emily Sylvester

Emily Sylvester is the Founder & CEO of Mother of Fact. As a Licensed Registered Dietitian, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and Mom of 3, she's helped thousands of families in many low/middle income communities feel confident and supported in their feeding journey. Her mission is to eliminate the deficit of equitable breastfeeding & formula feeding help for all households & healthcare systems.
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