Choosing the right vitamins and supplements for your baby is crucial to his or her development and growth. Of course, they’re not a replacement for a healthy diet, but providing a high-quality multivitamin ensures that your little one’s nutritional requirements are met, especially at a time when the body’s systems are developing at such a rapid pace. Here’s a look at which vitamins and supplements your baby might need, plus some general guidelines for choosing the right ones.
Vitamins and Supplements Your Baby Might Need
As your little one grows, his need for certain nutrients will change. When you begin to introduce solid foods, providing a wide variety of nutritious foods is important. Offering the right vitamins and supplements will fill in any nutritional gaps in your baby’s diet. Here are the key nutrients your baby needs for optimal development and growth.
Babies need vitamins C for healthy red blood cells, bones, and repairing tissue. It’s also a key nutrient for healthy gums and a strong immune system. Vitamin C also minimizes bruising and supports healing in general. It’s needed for iron absorption, too. If your baby doesn’t eat a lot of fruit or drink fruit juice every day, a vitamin C supplement might be a good idea.
Vitamin D is essential for strong teeth and bones, as well as calcium absorption. It could prevent certain chronic illnesses later in life, including asthma, cancer, and heart disease. The best way to boost your baby’s levels of vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight, but that can be dangerous. Providing vitamin D in supplement form is a safe and viable alternative.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies have 400 IU of vitamin D each day as a supplement or through their formula. If your child has a chronic illness, such as cystic fibrosis, he may need even more. Many adults and children don’t get nearly enough vitamin D, so providing a supplement is essential. The body also needs vitamin K2 to absorb vitamin D, so look for that in your baby’s multivitamin as well.
Probiotics are essential for a healthy immune system and gut. They are the good bacteria that live in the digestive system. Ensuring that your little one gets some probiotics every day is a good way to prevent digestive upset, as well as neurological and skin issues.
Probiotics may also help with chronic diarrhea and allergy symptoms. You can easily increase your baby’s intake of probiotics by offering some probiotic foods each day, such as yogurt or kefir. However, if your child needs antibiotics for an infection, you may want to supplement with probiotics to prevent digestive issues like gas or nausea.
The essential omega-3 fatty acid your baby needs for eye and brain development is called DHA. It’s naturally found in fatty fish, algae, and some seeds and nuts. Omega-3s are also important for a strong immune system and reducing inflammation throughout the body, as well as preventing asthma, ADHD, and heart disease.
According to research from the University of Kansas, DHA deficiency can also cause cognitive deficits and anxiety in infants. Babies need about 50 milligrams of DHA every day, but most don’t get anywhere near that through their diet. Looking for DHA included in a baby multivitamin is the best way to ensure that your little one is getting enough of this very important nutrient.
Providing a high-quality multivitamin is the easiest way to ensure that your baby’s nutritional needs are met, even if your baby doesn’t eat a variety of solid foods yet. A good multivitamin will contain key nutrients like DHA, vitamins C and D, and other key nutrients to support cognitive development, strong bones and teeth, and a strong immune system. It takes all the guesswork out of choosing baby supplements.
Baby multivitamins can be purchased with or without iron. Be sure to check with your child’s pediatrician to see which formula is best for him or her. Iron supplements are usually only required when a child is anemic. Be sure to choose a product that tastes good, too, so your baby will accept it easily.
General Guidelines for Choosing Baby Supplements
Now that you know which vitamins and nutrients your baby needs, let’s take a look at some general guidelines to keep in mind when choosing baby supplements.
- Your child’s nutritional needs can vary greatly depending on whether you’re breastfeeding, providing formula, and if your baby is eating some solid foods. Every baby’s needs are different and certain health conditions or medications can play a key role as well. You should always consult with your baby’s doctor before choosing supplements, just to be safe.
- While most nutrition experts will agree that it’s best to get most of your nutrition from healthy food, babies aren’t likely to be eating a wide variety of nutritious foods yet. And, they tend to be picky eaters, which makes things even more challenging. If you are breastfeeding, you can help to ensure that your baby’s nutritional needs are met by eating a healthy diet yourself. But there will always be days when you don’t eat as well as you’d like to. Taking a prenatal vitamin and providing your baby with a high-quality multivitamin will prevent any nutritional deficits.
- Choose supplements that are made from natural, rather than synthetic ingredients. Don’t base your decisions solely on the ingredients list or brand name either. The best way to know if labels are accurate is to look for third-party certification, such as the NSF International, US Pharmacopeial Convention, or ConsumerLab seal.
- Whenever possible, choose supplements that are free of fillers, artificial sweeteners, and synthetic dyes. Supplements for your baby should also be organic and non-GMO. Choosing products that are Clean Label Project certified ensures that the supplement doesn’t contain any undesirable additives, contaminants, or chemicals that could be harmful to your little one.
It would be great if your baby could get all of his nutrients from food, but we all know kids aren’t the best eaters. Proper nutrition at this critical age ensures the proper growth and development of your baby’s teeth, brain, eyes, bones, heart, and immune system. Providing the right baby multivitamin is an easy way to prevent any nutritional deficiencies, so they don’t become a problem later in life.