Does my newborn need a vitamin D supplement? – OCRegister

Before my son’s birth, my husband and I diligently read the books and blogs for new parents. We thought we were fully prepared for any mishap or late-night worry, but it turns out we weren’t. Despite our research, we had never read a single word about baby vitamins.

The day after our son was born, our pediatrician recommended an over-the-counter poly-vitamin. “Vitamins? For a newborn?” my husband asked. That seems ludicrous, I thought. For the first six months my child will subsist exclusively on a diet of breast milk or formula. No water, juice or cow’s milk. So why would he need vitamins? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a vitamin D supplement is recommended for breastfed babies to prevent rickets, a disease characterized by softening bones.

Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium, whose benefits include helping build and maintain bone strength. Additionally, vitamin D regulates the body’s immune system and modulates cell growth. There is scientific debate over how much vitamin D people need each day; however, a vitamin D deficiency can lead to weak bone mass and an increased risk of osteoporosis and rickets, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Those long-term maladies seemed serious enough for me to worry about endangering my son in the long run. After polling friends with infants to find out their approach, I learned that several mothers had already started feeding their children formula. I thought this wouldn’t make a difference, but it turns out that formula-fed babies do not require supplements. Most formulas are fortified with iron and other essential vitamins.

Double-dosing on those vitamins might sound like a good idea, but according to the Mayo Clinic’s “Complete Book of Pregnancy and Baby’s First Year,” the extra supplements in your baby’s system could lead to food allergies later in life. Also, excess amounts of such fat-soluble vitamins as vitamin D can reach toxic levels, leading to thirst, bone pain, sore eyes, itchy skin, vomiting, diarrhea and muscle problems.

With these somewhat serious side effects to consider, my husband and I opted for a vitamin trial period. We used Enfamil’s Poly-Vi-Sol dropper every day for two months. Our son rejected the vitamins. He thrust out his tongue and spit up the orange-colored supplement. I couldn’t blame him. The cloying cough syrup-like consistency made it unpalatable.

There were many problems with our dalliance with infant vitamins. First was the foul consistency, and then there was the smell. The solution reeked of rotten herbs coated with a heavy medicinal finish. Plus it stained everything. Dark tangerine specks ruined numerous burp cloths, Onesies, bibs and towels.

While we found the vitamins to be a messy hassle, other moms that I spoke with had better luck. One trick: Dilute the vitamins in breast milk to make them more palatable.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Institute of Medicine recommend a daily intake of 400 IU per day of vitamin D during the first year of life beginning in the first few days, and 600 IU for everyone over age 1. It may take long conversations with your pediatrician and a few stained Onesies but eventually, you will find out what works best for you and your baby.


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