As a parent, you want to make sure your little one is getting proper nourishment and nutrition. That includes vitamin D, a very important nutrient for babies. As breast milk alone doesn’t provide enough vitamin D for babies, breastfed infants and those who are partially breastfed will need vitamin D supplementation to help boost immunity, build healthy and strong bones, and prevent diseases like rickets. We’ve got all the details on the benefits of vitamin D for babies and how much your newborn needs.

What Does Vitamin D Do for Babies?

Vitamin D is essential for babies (as well as for older children and adults) because it helps the body absorb calcium. Working together, calcium and vitamin D build bones and help keep them strong and healthy.

When babies do not get a sufficient amount of vitamin D, they could potentially develop rickets, a rare disease that involves softening and weakening of the bones.

In addition, vitamin D has a role in fighting infection and maintaining a healthy heart, contributing to strengthening the immune system and decreasing the risk of chronic disease. 

Risks for Babies Who Lack Enough Vitamin D

When babies lack enough vitamin D, one potential consequence is weakened or softened bones. This can make a baby’s legs appear curved or bowed. Keep in mind that bowlegs are actually common in babies and toddlers but that this condition usually corrects itself before the age of 2. Bowlegs in babies and young toddlers is within the range of normal development and thought to be related to the tightly curled up position of babies in the uterus.

However, there are symptoms and conditions, including rickets, that can result from extreme vitamin D deficiency, and can hinder your child’s physical development. These may include:

  • extreme curvature in the legs
  • one leg curving more than the other
  • bowlegs becoming worse after 2 years of age
  • knock-knees after 7 years of age
  • short height
  • seizures
  • difficulty breathing.

Additionally, researchers have found correlations between vitamin D deficiency and certain diseases and conditions that could occur as babies get older and reach childhood or adulthood, such as

  • colon, breast, or prostate cancers
  • hypertension
  • diabetes
  • allergies
  • asthma
  • respiratory and viral infections
  • autoimmune conditions, including multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Although these diseases and complications sound scary, remember that they are rare. With the right supplementation, your baby will get the necessary nutrients to stay strong and healthy! If you have any questions or concerns, consult your child’s healthcare provider.


How Much Vitamin D Is Necessary for Babies?

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Institute of Medicine recommend a daily intake of 400 IU (international units) of vitamin D for babies within the first year. For babies older than 1 year, the amount increases to 600 IU per day. To determine whether  your baby is getting enough vitamin D, consider the following:

Breastfed babies and partially breastfed babies will not get enough vitamin D from breast milk alone, so supplementing with liquid vitamin D (drops) is necessary and important.

Formula-fed babies are likely to get a good amount of vitamin D from their formula, as most brands are fortified with vitamin D. Check the label of your formula and consult your child’s healthcare provider. However, to get the full recommended amount of vitamin D, babies will need to consume 32 ounces of fortified formula a day. Most newborns and many young babies won’t drink this much, so supplementation with vitamin D drops is probably necessary. Check with your provider to be sure. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that every baby is different. Some babies may require more vitamin D, including those with the following conditions:

  • obesity
  • bone pain
  • fractures
  • celiac disease
  • cystic fibrosis
  • have had recent surgery
  • are taking medications that block the absorption of vitamin D.


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