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Check with your child’s doctor about vitamin D and iron supplements during the first year. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding as the sole source of nutrition for your baby for about 6 months. When you add solid foods to your baby’s diet, continue breastfeeding until at least 12 months.

Human milk does not contain sufficient vitamin D to prevent a deficiency of this vitamin, which can produce diseases such as rickets (the severe form of vitamin D deficiency characterized by the softening of bones). Even though sunlight stimulates the skin to manufacture vitamin D, all children should wear sunscreen when they’re outdoors, and sunscreen prevents the skin from making vitamin D.

As a result, the Academy recommends that if you are breastfeeding your baby, you need to provide her with supplemental vitamin D, beginning soon after birth. Vitamin D supplements of 400 IU (International Units) (contained in a 1 ml combination multi-vitamin or a vitamin that contains vitamins A, C, and D) per day are recommended for breastfed babies unless they are weaned to at least 32 ounces (1,000 ml) of vitamin D–fortified formula, and for all nonbreastfed infants who are consuming less than 32 ounces (1,000 ml) per day of vitamin D–fortified formula. You should discuss this issue with your pediatrician.

Vitamin D has already been added to infant formula, so no additional supplementation of vitamin D is necessary. What about iron? For the first four to six months, your breastfed baby needs no additional iron. The iron she had in her body at birth was enough to see her through her initial growth. But now the reserves will be running low and her need for iron will increase as her growth speeds up. The Academy believes that babies who are not breastfed or are only partially breastfed should receive an iron-fortified formula (containing between 4 and 12 mg of iron) from birth through twelve months of age. We discourage the use of low-iron infant formulas as they do not contain enough iron to support an infant’s proper growth and development. Fortunately, once you start your baby on solid foods, she’ll also receive iron from meats, iron-fortified baby cereals, and green vegetables. For example, four level tablespoons of fortified cereal, diluted with breastmilk or formula, provides 7 mg of iron; meat is another very good source of iron.


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Adapted from Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age Five (Copyright © 2009 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.