All new moms ever really want is to have happy and healthy babies, and many ask me what sort of baby vitamins and supplements their little ones should be on.
Let me preface this by saying that supplements are not a necessary part of life for babies or adults.
Like pharmaceuticals, there is a right time and place to use natural supplements. I always, first and foremost, advocate adopting a good lifestyle before using baby vitamins or supplements. It will pay way more dividends in the future than taking some pills.
Having said that, I recognize that the ideal lifestyle is not always achievable, and good, high-quality supplements can help you and your infant augment your healthy lifestyle efforts, especially if things aren’t going perfectly smoothly.
Top 5 Natural Vitamins And Supplements
The importance of Vitamin D adequacy is becoming more and more underlined in the scientific literature. Deficiency is linked to cancer, atopic conditions, bone health, behavior, and more.
For those of us living further from the equator with distinct summers and winters, getting enough sunshine to make our Vitamin D can be a tall order.
Fear of sun exposure doesn’t help the cause, and neither does the fact that breast milk doesn’t transfer much of it at all. Taking Vitamin D in pregnancy is important, and vitamin D supplementation can continue directly to the baby after birth. Aim for about 400-800 IU infant vitamin D per day, plus a little bit of sun exposure for both mom and baby.
Omega Fatty Acids
Honestly, I can’t gush enough about how great fish oil is. From the brain to the heart, to the joints, and everything in between, the anti-inflammatory and nourishing power of fish oil is amazing. Babies can benefit too, especially since their brains are developing so rapidly. It can help support brain development, happy behavior, and immune function.
For a breastfed baby, they can get their omegas through the breast milk, so mom should certainly supplement with a fish oil. Look for one made with small fish, and an EPA to DHA ratio of 1:1 or 2:1. 1000-2000mg per day should do the trick.
For formula babies, check out how much there is in the formula, and consider a fish oil product specifically formulated for babies or kids to give them directly to supplement their needs.
Probiotics, or the “good” bacteria, help digest, regulate the immune system and support good gut health. Just like adults, babies can experience an imbalance of good and bad bacteria, causing digestive distress, increased inflammation, and even skin problems like eczema.
Vaginally birthed babies get their first dose of good bacteria directly from mom’s vaginal canal, which is why ensuring a proper bacterial balance before delivery is necessary.
C-section babies sadly miss out on that important first dose, but supplements can help.
Probiotic supplementation can also be very useful if at any point during labour and delivery, mom and/or baby received antibiotics.
Look for infant-targeted baby probiotics (preferably containing a few different strains) in a powder or drop form.
Iron deficiency is all too common among women, which can mean babies can be left deficient after their iron stores run out around six months. Iron deficiencies in the young can manifest as anemia, and learning and behavioural disruptions.
How to take iron supplements
Supplementing iron during pregnancy is important for mom to maintain her own stores, and to make sure the baby builds sufficient stores too.
The key to iron supplementation is selecting a type that is least likely to cause digestive problems, like constipation.
Iron bisglycinate is one such type, in the 20-30mg dose for mom, and around 5-10mg of baby iron supplements after weaning. If the baby is formula fed, look to see what the iron dose is per serving, and go from there to make up the rest.
Vitamin B12 is crucial for the development of the brain and the nervous system, along with the smooth operation of a whole slew of biological functions. For most moms and babies on a healthy and varied diet, B12 should be adequate. Formula is fortified with B vitamins.
A concern may arise if mom’s diet is restricted, like vegetarianism and especially veganism. Since B12 is in animal-based foods like meat and dairy, a vegan mom may be deficient in B12, which may put her breastfed baby at risk for deficiency too.
A baby-friendly Vitamin B12 supplement with go a long way to prevent that. Look for a baby supplement that contains the methylcobalamin type of B12, to ensure the best absorption.