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Vitamin D for babies 0 to 12 months

You should give your baby 5 micrograms of vitamin D3 as a supplement every day from birth to 12 months. Your baby needs this whether they are breastfed or formula-fed.

Vitamin D helps us to build and maintain strong bones and teeth. There are many suitable infant vitamin D3 supplements available to buy in Ireland.

Even if you took vitamin D during pregnancy or while you are breastfeeding, your baby will still need it after birth.

Why babies need vitamin D

Our bodies can make vitamin D from the sun. But babies cannot safely get the vitamin D they need from the sun.

Your baby needs vitamin D because:

  • their skin is very sensitive to the sun and should not be in direct sunlight
  • their food, breastmilk, formula milk or solid foods, may not have enough vitamin D in it
  • between 0 to 12 months babies grow very quickly and have a greater need for vitamin D to form strong bones

Research shows that vitamin D plays an important role in helping the immune system. It may help prevent diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, MS (multiple sclerosis) and some forms of cancer.

African, Afro-Caribbean, Middle-Eastern or Indian parents are more likely to have babies with low levels of vitamin D.

Risks of low vitamin D levels

In severe cases, low-levels of vitamin D can cause rickets or osteomalacia in children.

Rickets is a condition that leads to soft bones. It can cause severe bone deformities such as bowed legs and spine curves.

Rickets in adults is known as osteomalacia or soft bones. This can cause frequent bone fractures, muscle weakness and bone pain.

Buying vitamin D3 supplements

You can buy vitamin D3 supplements for babies in pharmacies and some supermarkets. It is important that you buy supplements that are suitable for babies, and contain vitamin D3 only.

It is important that you buy supplements that are suitable for babies, and contain vitamin D3 only.

You don't need a prescription to buy vitamin D. But you can get it on prescription if you have a medical card or use the Drugs Payment Scheme. The cost will vary depending on the supplement.

Ask your pharmacist how many doses you will get from a supplement and how long it will last once open.

Depending on the supplement, you may need to buy more than one bottle in the year.

Giving your baby vitamin D

Check the label on your vitamin D3 supplement for the number of drops or amount of liquid you need to give your baby.

Read the instructions each time. You may need to give your baby the supplement in a different way with each new brand.

Give your baby the correct dose directly into their mouth.

One dose: 5 micrograms

The correct amount is 5 micrograms. The number of drops can vary, depending on the supplement you are using. If the dose is correct, there are no risks to babies.

Only give your baby one dose per day. Very large doses of vitamin D3 may make your baby ill.

Ask your pharmacist, GP or public health nurse if you're not sure what to do.

Other vitamins

If your baby was premature or is getting on-going medical care, they might need extra vitamins or a higher dose of vitamin D3.

If your baby is taking other vitamins, ask your pharmacist, GP or public health nurse for advice.

Only give your baby multivitamins or higher doses of vitamin D3 if recommended by a healthcare professional.

Related topics

Vitamin D

Vitamins and minerals your baby needs while weaning

Food portion sizes for toddlers

page last reviewed: 15/03/2018
next review due: 15/03/2021