Vitamins and Minerals

Do formula-fed babies require vitamin supplementation?
Formulas are supplemented with vitamins and minerals. In the first 6 months of life when infants are exclusively formula fed, they do not require supplementary vitamins and minerals. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend fluoride supplementation in babies younger than 12 months of age.

Do breastfed babies require vitamin supplementation?
An iron supplement will be needed no later than 4 to 6 months of age. Some physicians recommend beginning iron soon after birth.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends vitamin D supplementation for all breastfed babies. Your doctor will prescribe vitamin D when your baby is 6 to 8 weeks of age.

In addition to vitamin D, vitamin B12 supplements are required for babies who are nursed by mothers who follow a vegan diet (a diet that excludes all food of animal origin).

Q: Should I offer my baby water between feedings?

A: Healthy babies do not require extra water. Formula (when properly prepared) and breast milk are adequate to meet your baby’s fluid needs. Juice is not recommended in the first 6 months of life.

Health Alert: Not Enough Breast Milk

Signs that baby is not getting adequate breast milk

Call your doctor if your baby:

  • does not have 6-8 wet diapers a day
  • fails to nurse 8-12 times a day
  • does not seem content after nursing
  • acts unusually irritable or unusually drowsy
  • has a weak suck, gags frequently, or has difficulty latching on

Your doctor will probably want your baby to be seen right away.

Healthy Habits: Safe Food Handling

Do not save the formula (or expressed breast milk) left in the bottle after the baby has finished a feeding. Germs from your baby’s mouth may have contaminated the milk, and refeeding the leftover milk may cause your baby to become ill.

Milestones: Rice Cereal

Rice cereal is the most frequently recommended first solid food. It is usually added to the baby’s diet at about 4 to 6 months.

Rice cereal is chosen because rice contains no gluten. Gluten is an allergy-triggering protein found in most other grains.

Health Alert: Babies, Bottles, and Formula

Follow directions exactly when preparing concentrated or powdered formula to ensure that the
correct balance of nutrients and water is maintained. Feeding formula that is too weak or too concentrated is dangerous to your baby’s health.

Do not use the microwave to warm your baby’s bottle. Microwaves heat unevenly, creating hot spots that can burn your baby’s mouth. Microwaves may also change the composition of the milk.

Never “prop” your baby’s bottle. Babies should be held while
they are feeding. Propping is the practice of giving a baby a bottle by leaning the bottle against a pillow or other support rather than holding the baby and the bottle. Propping puts the baby at risk for choking and robs the baby of the opportunity for warm and loving interaction with the person holding the bottle.

Questions & Answers

Q: Why can’t babies under 1 year of age have honey?

A: Honey may be contaminated with the spores of the germs that cause botulism. Babies with botulism can develop muscle weakness, which sometimes progresses to paralysis and, rarely, even death.

Child Rearing Myth

Adding rice cereal to your baby’s diet will help your baby sleep through the night.

Child Rearing Fact

Hunger is not waking your baby, and rice cereal does not help your baby sleep through the night. Your baby is a light sleeper and once awakened, can’t get back to sleep without help. When your baby develops a mature sleep pattern and learns to self-comfort when awake but not hungry, you’ll get a good night’s sleep.