When babies are born, their bones aren’t fully developed. They’re soft, more like cartilage, with flexibility that allows them to fit inside their mother’s womb and pass into the world more easily. As they grow, babies’ bones strengthen and fuse together, forming healthy, functioning skeletons.
Building bones requires calcium, which helps them to harden and become strong, and vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. Both calcium and vitamin D are present in breast milk and infant formula; however the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastfed infants supplement with vitamin D, as human milk does not contain sufficient amounts to fully support healthy bone development.
Liquid vitamin D supplements are an easy way to provide your baby with this important nutrient. The AAP suggests beginning supplementation of 400 IU per day just after birth and continuing until baby is weaned from breastfeeding and receiving 27 oz to 32 oz of formula every day. If baby is weaned at 12 months (as recommended by the AAP), he or she can begin drinking cow’s milk and will no longer require formula or vitamin D drops.
To give baby the supplement, place a drop on a nipple or pacifier and let him or her suck for about 30 seconds. For toddlers ages two and older, administer the drop directly from the bottle (or on a spoon), or add it to juice or food.