Baby’s Vitamin D NEeds

Mom sitting on park bench breastfeeding her baby

Meeting your baby’s vitamin D needs is important for the development of healthy bones and teeth (1). Vitamin D supplementation is also important to help prevent bone related diseases such as rickets, which causes the bones to soften (2). Read on to learn more about meeting your baby’s vitamin D needs. 


Role of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is an important nutrient that helps in the absorption of calcium (1). Together, vitamin D and calcium support the healthy growth and development of bones and teeth (1). It is important to meet your baby’s vitamin D needs to prevent a nutritional deficiency.


Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency in Babies

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency in babies can include: 

    • Calcium deficiency causing seizures
    • Lethargy (extreme tiredness and low energy) 
    • Growth failure 
    • Irritability 
    • Increased respiratory infections (3)


Vitamin D Suplementation for Babies

In order to meet your baby’s needs, vitamin D supplementation is often recommended. Vitamin D supplements can be found in an easy to give, liquid drop (2). The drops can be placed directly on your nipple prior to feeding or on the nipple of the bottle. Another method to ensure you are meeting your baby’s needs, if you are breastfeeding, is maternal supplementation. If you take 4000 – 6000 IU of vitamin D per day, research shows that it can provide enough vitamin D in breast milk for your baby (4).


Baby’s Vitamin D Needs

0 – 12 months: 400 IU/ day 

12 – 24 months: 600 IU/day (2)

Babies who are strictly breastfed or receive a mixture of breast milk and formula will not receive enough vitamin D. Supplementation of 400 IU of vitamin D per day is recommended in the form of vitamin D drops (2). For babies who are strictly formula fed, vitamin D supplementation is not required. This is because formula is fortified with vitamin D to meet your baby’s needs (2).


Sources of Vitamin D for Babies

Additional source of vitamin D that can help you to meet your baby’s needs include: 

    • Fish (salmon, tuna) 
    • Eggs 
    • Vitamin D Fortified Foods (cow’s milk, infant cereals, yogurt, cereal)


Final Notes from The Nest

Meeting your baby’s vitamin D needs of 400 IU per day during the first twelve months and 600 IU during the second twelve months is important to ensure the healthy growth and development of your baby. Supplementation is recommended to prevent deficiency, especially in exclusively breastfed infants, unless you are supplementing yourself with 4000 – 6000 IU per day. For additional information and personalized recommendations, schedule a one-on-one consultation with a Registered Dietitian at The Nest.

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  1. Fiscaletti M, Stewart P, Munns CF. The importance of Vitamin D in maternal and child health: a global perspective. Public Health Rev. 2017;38(19). 10.1186/s40985-017-0066-3 
  2. Centre of Disease Control. Vitamin D [Internet]. Atlanta: U.S Department of Health & Human Services. 2021 [revised 2021 Jul; cited 2021 Jul 26]. Available from: 
  3. Balasubramanian S. Vitamin D deficiency in breastfed infants & the need for routine vitamin D supplementation. Indian J Med Res. 2011;133(3): 250–252.
  4. La Leche League International [Internet]. United States: Le Leche League International. 2021 [cited 2021 Jul 26]. Vitamin D, your baby, and you; [about 2 screens]. Available from: