Breast milk will provide all the nutrients that babies need in the first six months of life. However, some infants may need a little extra at times.
Because modern life – especially in the northern latitudes – causes many of us to have low levels of vitamin D, many mothers lack vitamin D during pregnancy and breastfeeding. In addition, precursors are often low in vitamin D.
This means that infants may need vitamin D supplements. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends daily vitamin D supplementation of 400 IU for all breastfeeding children, beginning immediately after birth.
Note: Once your baby is fed formula to about 30 ounces of formula each day (usually about 2 months), you may stop taking supplements of vitamin D. However, it is recommended that breastfeeding continues. Vitamin D supplement for at least one year.
Finally, some babies can get enough vitamin D from breast milk. But the mother needs to have a solid vitamin D intake for this to happen, most are not. If you are pregnant or have a new mother, talk to your doctor and pharmacist about checking your vitamin D levels, and the best and safest options for your newborn.
Breastfeeding mothers eat vegetarian vegan diets (vegan), so vitamin B12 supplements are recommended.
A fetus stores iron from the mother’s blood in the womb. Premature babies need extra iron because they do not accumulate enough stores.
Breast milk does not have much iron, but it is well absorbed. Iron stores will last up to about six months, so there is no need for iron supplements during this time. Infants formula fed may have enough iron.
Read more Vitamins and nutrition during pregnancy
Babies are born with a sterile environment inside. As they pass through the birth canal, the bacteria of the mothers invade the mucus of the newborn and the gastrointestinal tract. This is normal and desirable – just as Nature intended.
However, in a modern clean environment, or perhaps after part C, this invasion of bacteria does not happen easily or well. This can lead to later gastrointestinal, respiratory, and / or ENT infections in the newborn, as well as to the lower immune system.
In this case, parents can supplement with infant formulas – talk to your pharmacist to find out what’s best.
For more about beneficial bacteria, see All About Probiotics.
Fluid & hydration
The amount of liquid in breast milk or formula will usually be enough, so normally you do not need to add water.
However, infants easily and quickly lose dehydration under certain conditions, such as if the child has a fever or severe vomiting; or if the climate is very hot.
Re-absorption is also important if your child has diarrhea. (In this case, add some sugar and salt to the water to make a simple electrolyte solution.)
Use urine color as a guide: Dark yellow urine indicates dehydration. Urine clearly indicates the potential for over-hydration. You want to see something somewhere in the middle. (It will probably be mandatory with a urine sample, perhaps at the most socially inconvenient time.)