Vitamin and Mineral Supplements for Breast Fed Babies

Until solid foods are introduced—preferably at about six months—breast milk can be a complete source of nutrition for infants. However, three nutrients may warrant additional consideration. Ask your doctor for advice.

Iron. Iron is important for the manufacture of hemoglobin, the part of red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. Iron also is essential for your baby's brain development and growth.

In the last trimester before birth, babies accumulate enough iron stores to last through their first four to six months of life. Breast milk also contains easily absorbed iron. After four to six months, however, most babies need more iron. Breast-fed babies may be at risk for being iron-deficient if another source of iron— usually iron-fortified cereal—isn't introduced. Talk to your dietitian or health professional about what is best for your baby.

Premature infants who breast-feed may need iron supplementation earlier. They had less time to build adequate iron reserves before birth.

Fluoride. Your baby's teeth started to develop even before you could see them. Fluoride, a mineral often found in tap water, helps develop strong teeth and prevent cavities later.

Breast milk contains little fluoride—even if the mother's drinking water is fluoridated. If your breastfed infant takes supplemental formula made with fluoridated water—at least 0.3 ppm (parts per million) of fluoride—your baby may get enough fluoride. If your child is breast-fed only or drinks formula made with well water, distilled water, unfluoridated bottled water, or city unfluoridated water, your doctor may advise a fluoride supplement starting at about six months. Breast-fed infants who take supplemental ready-to-use formula also may need a fluoride supplement; these formulas usually are prepared with water low in fluoride.

If fluoride supplementation is needed, about six months of age usually is a good time to start. At your baby's six-month checkup, ask your doctor. A fluoride supplement may be prescribed.

Vitamin D. This vitamin helps your baby use calcium from breast milk (and infant formula) to help bones grow and develop. When skin is exposed to sunlight,

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