VITAMINS A, D, E, AND K
Why babies need them
Vitamin A promotes proper vision and healthy skin. Vitamin D increases calcium absorption and helps with bone growth -- a deficiency can cause bone-weakening rickets. Vitamin E's antioxidant powers facilitate cell growth and the development of the nervous system. Vitamin K helps with normal blood clotting.
A shot of vitamin K is administered to newborns at birth to help prevent bleeding into the brain. Infant formula meets needs through age 1 for vitamins A, D and E. To get enough vitamin D, breastfed babies should take a supplement, such as Tri-Vi-Sol (which also contains vitamins A and C), that provides 400 IU of vitamin D daily until they are weaned from the breast or are taking 15 or more ounces of formula daily. Otherwise, if you offer your baby a variety of foods from the food pyramid -- fruits, vegetables, dairy, whole grains, healthy fats -- and your doctor says she is growing appropriately for her age, she is likely meeting her needs for these fat-soluble vitamins.
Serve it up
Beyond breast milk, formula and cow's milk, good sources of vitamin A include carotene-rich fruits and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes and broccoli. Vitamin D occurs in few foods -- which is why the AAP recommends a daily supplement for breastfed babies -- but your baby can get some from fortified cow's milk, egg yolks and fish. Vitamin E-rich foods include vegetable oils, cereals and grains. Cow's milk, leafy vegetables, fruit and soybean oil are full of vitamin K.
Good to know
A recent study found that 40 percent of infants and toddlers have low levels of vitamin D, which can weaken bones. Make sure you talk to your pediatrician about starting your baby on a vitamin D supplement if you are breastfeeding.