Where We Stand: Vitamin D Supplements
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) feels strongly that all children should be kept out of the direct sun as much as possible and wear sunscreen while in the sun to avoid long-term risk of sun exposure, which may contribute to skin cancer. Sunscreen keeps the skin from manufacturing vitamin D. For that reason, talk to your pediatrician about the need for supplemental vitamin D drops.
The current AAP recommendation is that all infants and children should have a minimum intake of 400 IU (International Units) of vitamin D per day beginning soon after birth.
If your baby is exclusively or partially breastfed: He or she receive 400 IU of supplemental vitamin D daily, beginning in the first few days of life. Supplementation should continue until he or she is weaned to at least 1 qt (1 L) of whole milk per day. Whole milk should not be used until after 12 months of age.
If your baby is on infant formula: All formulas sold in the United States have at least 400 IU/L of vitamin D; so if your baby is drinking at least 32 ounces of formula, vitamin D supplementation is not needed. Whole milk should not be used until after 12 months of age.
Where We Stand: Iron Supplements
Full-term healthy babies receive enough iron from their mothers in the third trimester of pregnancy to last for the first four months of life.
If your baby is breastfed: Human milk contains little iron, so infants who are exclusively breastfed are at increased risk of iron deficiency after four months of age. The AAP clinical report, Diagnosis and Prevention of Iron Deficiency and Iron-Deficiency Anemia in Infants and Young Children 0 Through 3 Years, recommends giving breastfed infants 1 mg/kg/day of a liquid iron supplement until iron-containing solid foods are introduced at about six months of age. When you add solid foods to your baby's diet, continue breastfeeding until at least 12 months. Check with your child's pediatrician about the duration of iron supplements during the first year.
If your baby is partially breastfed: The iron recommendation remains the same as that for fully breastfed babies if more than half of the daily feedings are from human milk and the child is not receiving iron-containing complementary foods.
If your baby is on infant formula: It is recommended that you use iron-fortified formula (containing from 4 to 12 mg of iron) from birth through the entire first year of life.
Premature babies have fewer iron stores, so they often need additional iron beyond what they receive from breastmilk or formula.
In 2010, the AAP began recommending all babies be screened at 12 months of age for iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia. See Anemia and Your Child: Parent FAQs for more information.
Vitamins for Nursing Moms
A regular, well-balanced diet should provide all the vitamins necessary for both nursing mothers and their babies. However, pediatricians recommend that mothers continue taking a daily prenatal vitamin supplement to ensure the proper nutritional balance. See How a Healthy Diet Helps You Breastfeed for more information.
If you are on a strict vegetarian diet: You need to take an extra B-complex supplement, since certain B vitamins are available only from meat, poultry, or fish products.
If your baby is on infant formula: He or she generally will receive adequate vitamins, because formula has added vitamins.
Additional Information from HealthyChildren.org: