The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that breastfed babies start receiving vitamin D supplements in the first days after their birth. Similarly, after 4 months old, they recommend that exclusively breastfed babies get an iron supplement. You may wonder how on earth you're supposed to get those vitamins in your baby. I know that I don't like taking medicine, so getting it in a baby who pretty much only likes boob juice and the taste of his own feet? Not easy. Should you give it directly? Is it safe to add vitamins to your breast milk?
Since the 2011 AAP guidelines stated a baby should be given both vitamin D (400 international units per day for breastfed infants) and iron (from 4 months, 1 milligram per kilogram per day), there has been no dearth of confusion or skepticism. There are lactation consultants like at the San Diego Breastfeeding Center who deride the idea that babies should be supplemented with iron. There was also a very compelling letter to the AAP from concerned physicians who are not yet convinced that this is the best course of action.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and AAP all recommended that breastfed babies should be supplemented with iron and vitamin D. Not only does it prevent rickets — a softening and weakness of bone — according to The Mayo Clinic, it also helps their behavior and overall growth of their brain, found Paediatrics and Child Health.
I researched the ever-loving crap out of this, and kept coming back to my first question. How in the heck does one get a baby to take medicine? Is it safe to add vitamins to breast milk? There is a real paucity of information about adding anything to breastmilk, other than one lone article about adding formula to it in Sub-Saharan Africa. There is plenty of info, including on the AAP's own website that it can be added to juice, or administered orally, but what if your baby is a wee thing? How about then? My personal concerns were related to if it would all be ingested by my baby, or if it will somehow spoil the milk if the feeding ended up being split. Does the breast milk's composition make the supplements less bioavailable in the same way that calcium interferes with iron absorption in adults, according to The International Journal of Vitamin Nutrition Research?
Because it was their recommendation that had me searching, I reached out to the AAP first. They were kind enough to respond with a very firm yes. It is fine to add vitamins to your breast milk It turns out, according to the Pediatric Clinicians of North America, while mom's mammary milk is rich in so much, it is mostly fat and sugar, so it doesn't adversely affect the absorption of the nutrients. For its part, vitamin D is given by droplet, and can be dropped directly into baby's mouth or onto mom's nipple, as per the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Is it safe to add vitamins to breast milk? The AAP tells Romper that it is, but the AAP is also very specific on the need to discuss your baby's individual needs with your pediatrician before doing anything. When my baby's doctor had her start taking iron supplements, she was 4 months old as the AAP recommends, and at that point, the dropper was actually pretty easy. I even tasted the supplement — it tasted like pure sugar. (She didn't hate it.) Why can't our vitamins be berry flavored? Mine taste like regret and I don't even get to take it in a bottle.