Vitamin K for Babies
This vitamin is important for us all to have as it helps to clot blood and prevent bleeding.
Vitamin K is not found in many foods, so our body makes it from helpful bacteria and stores it in the liver. When babies are born they have very low levels of vitamin K, and for this reason, we give babies vitamin K at birth, to help prevent serious bleeding that can occasionally happen.
Vitamin K can be given by mouth or injection. For healthy babies it is probably best to give it by mouth. For babies who need to be cared for on the special care baby nursery the injection is usually better.
The midwife looking after you and your baby will talk to you about vitamin K and ask if you are happy for the first dose to be given shortly after birth, and if so, will give this first dose. There are no known side effects to the treatment given in this way.
If you intend to breast feed you will also be offered a bottle of vitamin K to give your baby a small daily dose by dropper. You will be shown how to give this to your baby and given a bottle with enough Vitamin K for a daily dose until your baby is about 14 weeks old.
Vitamin K is oil based so sterilising the dropper by steam, microwave or chemicals is not required. It is best just wiped clean if needed.
If you decide to fully bottle feed your baby with formula milk, you will not need to give extra daily vitamin K, because the milk manufacturers add it to formula milk. For babies who are mixed feeding we advise that you continue with the full course of vitamin K until your baby is receiving less than half their food as breast milk.
You can of course decline the offer of extra vitamin K. Please talk to the staff looking after you and your baby if you have any concerns, or would like to talk this through.
Breastmilk is the best start for your baby.
All staff at the RVI will support you with your chosen method of feeding.