Vitamins and babies have been a widely discussed topic in the last few years. But what does it mean for your kids? We asked Mark R. Corkins, MD, the division chief of Pediatric Gastroenterology at Le Bonheur and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, for his thoughts. Dr. Corkins stresses the importance of making any decisions about vitamins with your child’s doctor.

How do I know if my baby is getting enough Vitamin D?

There is no easy way to know if the baby is getting enough because Vitamin D is especially involved with regulating calcium, and the main spot where calcium is found is in our bones and teeth. That is why we follow the national recommendations. The best research studies to date indicate that if we follow the recommendations, the baby will have a good Vitamin D level.

Is there a difference in breastfed vs. formula fed babies?

Breast milk is very low in Vitamin D, so breast-fed infants all need extra vitamin D. The formulas are all supplemented to ensure that the infants get adequate Vitamin D.

How do I know if I need to give my baby a nutritional supplement?

The best way is to ask your doctor. Although it is a rough guide, if your baby is gaining weight and developing normally, he or she is probably not doing too bad nutritionally.

When does a parent need to think about giving their child a vitamin supplement?

In theory, if a child has a complete, well-balanced diet, vitamin/mineral supplements would be unnecessary. However, anyone who has raised a toddler knows that they eat in spurts, and the foods they will take vary regularly. Add in the busy lifestyle most of us follow now days, it is not a big stretch to see that most children will probably benefit from vitamin/mineral supplements. You should discuss this with your doctor, and let them know if you are giving your child supplements of any kind.

Is Vitamin D the most important vitamin during the infant years?

Infancy is the most rapid period of growth in our entire lives. There are so many organs and tissues developing that I can’t say any one vitamin or mineral is more important overall – they are all important. Pediatricians want to ensure that during rapid growth the first year of life, the child has the ability to be the best nourished he can be. This will result in the best growth and development possible.