The One Nutrient You Need To Supplement Your Breastfed Baby

Breastmilk is called liquid gold for many reasons. It is the first-choice for babies because it is the perfect food that fuels baby with exactly what she needs. It is dynamic, and the composition changes as the baby’s needs change. Not only does it fuel baby with nutrients, but it also provides the babies with components that help support her immune system. Not to mention the act of breastfeeding promotes bonding between mother and child and provides benefits to mom too (like reducing her risk of developing breast cancer to name one (1)!).

While breastmilk is the best choice for babies, there is one nutrient that breast milk may not be supplying baby with enough quantities. Vitamin D is an important vitamin, and unfortunately most mothers do not produce breastmilk that provide enough of this nutrient to give baby what she needs. The great news is that Vitamin D supplements for breastfed babies are readily available.


Vitamin D is needed to support healthy bone development and growth, and to prevent rickets, a condition that causes soft, weak, or deformed bones. Children who don’t have enough Vitamin D may develop soft skulls and bowed legs. Although Vitamin D deficiency in babies is rare, it’s prevalence is on the rise (2, 3). It is something that moms should stay ahead of by supplying her baby with enough Vitamin D starting on day 1 of birth.

Vitamin D can be taken in through foods or supplementation, or it can be converted through skin from direct sunlight. This is why going for those long strolls with your baby isn’t only good for your mental-sanity, but it is a healthy way to expose her (and you!) to some natural Vitamin D through sunlight! Even if mom took supplemental Vitamin D while she was pregnant, baby still needs to be supplied with this nutrient while she is breastfeeding.

Some risk factors for Vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Living close to the polar regions of the earth (like the Northeast) during winter months, when sun exposure is limited

  • Living somewhere with a lot of skyscrapers, which block direct sunlight

  • Using sunscreen, which blocks the sun rays from the skin and therefore limits the ability to convert active Vitamin D

  • Darker skin tones

  • Limited outdoor time

  • Consistently wearing clothes or being covered with a blanket that cover the majority of skin while outside



Making sure your baby is getting in enough Vitamin D is simple enough for a tired new mama to handle…we promise! It is recommended to continue to exclusively breastfeed for the first 4-6 months of life and continuing to breastfeed as long as mother and baby desire according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Yes, breastmilk may not contain enough Vitamin D, but it is still considered the perfect food source for your baby vs. formula in most circumstances.

While mom is breastfeeding, she should discuss providing baby with 400 IU of Vitamin D supplementation daily. This is a simple step to do. One great option is to choose a Vitamin D supplement powder formulated specifically for babies and mix it with mom’s breastmilk before feeding it. It can also be mixed into expressed breastmilk.

Note that supplementation is not needed with most infant formulas unless your doctor specifically orders it for your baby. Formula is already fortified with adequate Vitamin D, so adding more supplementation is not recommended in general.


  • Vitamin D supplements are readily available at the drugstore, online, and even in some lactation clinics. Many share similar characteristics, but some are better choices than others. Below is some guidance for selecting the best Vitamin D supplement for your baby:

    • Ensure the Vitamin D supplement provides baby with 40 IU Vitamin D (4). She should not be supplemented with less than this unless your health care provider suggests otherwise

    • Ensure the Vitamin D supplement is made with a version of the vitamin called cholecalciferol. Vitamin D3 is the preferred version of this vitamin for humans. You may find supplements that provide Vitamin D2 and may not be the best choice for your baby’s needs.

    • Choose an option that is organic, non-GMO, and does not contain no synthetic ingredients or preservatives. Some vitamin D drops will be made with a type of oil. This is generally safe and will not trigger any allergic reaction since allergies are triggered by proteins and not by fats. Conversely, choosing a Vitamin D powder that can be mixed with breastmilk will ensure that no unnecessary ingredients are being provided to your baby.

    • Choose an option that is third-party verified and tested, and preferably manufactured in the USA

    • Consider a supplement that offers more features and benefits for your baby, like the addition of live probiotics.


Vitamin D supplementation one small step that ensures your baby is being taken care of nutritionally. This simple supplementation should be started on baby’s first day of life and continued until enough complimentary foods are introduced to meet baby’s needs. If your health care provider has not mentioned the need for Vitamin D supplementation while breastfeeding, it is in your baby’s best interest to proactively bring it up during your next appointment.

Choosing a Vitamin D supplement that is in powder-form, organic, GMO-free, made with Vitamin D3, and provides live probiotics is a great choice when considering your options. This powerhouse combination will supply your baby with what she needs in a safe and convenient way.


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