Many new parents question whether or not they should give their new baby infant vitamins or not. Often, pediatricians advocate introducing solid food to infants around 4-months of age, and at this time supplementing your baby's diet with vitamins is regularly suggested. However, just because your baby reaches 4-months of age or starts solid food, it doesn't mean she have to start supplemental vitamins. Talk to your baby's pediatrician and base your decision on your child's nutritional intake.
Breastfed Babies and Vitamins
Good nutrition for your baby starts during your pregnancy. But once your baby is born, his nutritional needs are as individual as they are. Most pediatricians agree that during the first 12 months, infant vitamins and mineral supplements are not usually needed for the average healthy, full-term breastfed baby. In fact many agree that breastmilk is all that is needed until your baby is six-months-old or older.
Vitamin Fortified Formula
If you are unable or choose not to breastfeed, baby formula also provides essential vitamins infants need. However, it's important to note that in order to get all the vitamins needed each day, babies must drink an entire can (32 ounces) to reach the recommended daily allowance. So, if your baby was premature and isn't big enough to consume 32 ounces a day, talk to your pediatrician about the need for infant vitamins.
Vitamin Requirements for Infants
According to the Miriam Webster Dictionary, a vitamin is "Any of various organic substances that are essential in minute quantities to the nutrition of most animals and some plants, act especially as coenzymes and precursors of coenzymes in the regulation of metabolic processes but do not provide energy or serve as building units, and are present in natural foodstuffs or are sometimes produced within the body." To be sure your baby is getting enough of these organic substances, it's important to know what is recommended. Although the right amount of vitamins is good for the body, deficiencies and high doses are not. For example, high doses of vitamin A can lead to:
- Liver damage
- Brain swelling
- Bone anomalies
Remember that vitamin supplements are like a drug which should be administered in correct doses.
Low Birth Weight Babies and Vitamins
If your baby has a low-birth-weight or is born prematurely, and you are not able to breastfeed, then special higher-calories formulas that are specially formulated with supplemental vitamins and iron will help meet your baby's vitamin needs. Manufacturers design these formulas to be easily absorbed in the digestive track of these special infants. Breast milk is the best source of nutrition, but these formulas are among the alternatives developed to provide these infant vitamins:
- Similac Special Care
- Similac LBW
- Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier
- Enfamil EnfaCare LIPIL
- Enfamil Premature LIPIL
Diet and Breastmilk
If you are breastfeeding your infant, it's also important to remember that your diet affects the quality of the milk provided to your baby. To be sure to provide a good source of infant vitamins, some doctors recommend that the mother consider taking a multivitamin-mineral supplement while nursing. Also, if your diet does not include a source of B12, it is recommended that your baby be given infant vitamins that include B12 because it is crucial for maturity of the nervous system and prevents anemia.
Another factor to take into consideration as your baby is introduced to solid foods is that many foods are fortified with vitamins. Check the labels of foods you give your baby. He or she may be getting more vitamins that you originally thought. Just as you want to be sure your baby is taking in the right about of vitamins, you'll also want to be careful she is not ingesting an excessive amount of vitamins either.