Human milk provides sufficient amounts of vitamins, except for vitamin D. Vitamin D helps absorb calcium and is needed to build healthy bones and teeth. Although human milk contains small amounts of vitamin D, it is not enough to prevent rickets (softening of the bones). Your pediatrician should prescribe a vitamin D supplement for your breastfed baby; in fact, the AAP recommends that all breastfed babies receive 400 IU of oral vitamin D drops, starting during the first few days of life and continuing until they are drinking vitamin D-fortified formula or milk (500 mL or about 17 oz). Most commercial formulas are fortified with vitamin D and other vitamins to ensure that babies get enough of these essential nutrients.
Diets of Nursing Mothers
A mother who follows a vegan diet, which excludes all foods of animal origin, should talk to her pediatrician about her baby’s vitamin needs. A vegan diet lacks vitamins D and B12. A vitamin B12 deficiency in an baby’s diet can lead to anemia and nervous system abnormalities.
For many years, some doctors have told parents that babies in highly allergic families may react to certain foods the mother eats that then pass into the breast milk, such as the protein from cow’s milk or cheese, or from eggs, seafood, and nuts. However, the AAP has concluded that at this time, there is no evidence that dietary restrictions in a nursing mother can play a significant role in preventing allergic diseases such as eczema, food allergy, or asthma. In rare cases, such as certain metabolic diseases, a baby may not be able to tolerate human milk and will need a special formula. A physical abnormality that makes it difficult for a baby to suckle normally, such as a cleft palate, may make breastfeeding impossible. Mothers should remember that their pumped milk should be the first choice for any baby that needs a supplemental feed.