The short answer is yes, babies need cod liver oil even if they are exclusively breastfed. More on this recommendation, timing, and dosages as suggested by the Weston Price Foundation below.
Changing Cod Liver Oil Quality
In recent years, almost all companies that produce cod liver oil have cheapened their manufacturing process to either remove natural vitamins A/D and replace them with synthetic versions, reduce the amounts of A/D, or both. For example, Carlson’s brand of cod liver oil used to be recommended by the Weston Price Foundation only to be dropped from the list because this brand no longer contains enough vitamin A to support robust health.
A few companies refused to cheapen their products and stopped using Norwegian manufacturers because the natural vitamin A/D was going to be replaced with synthetic versions. A method for producing a high vitamin cod liver oil by fermenting the cod livers was developed. The resulting product is produced with no heat or solvents. However, this fermented cod liver oil does contain some beneficial lactic acid which can produce a mild burning sensation on the back of the throat for about 10% of folks who take it.
In those cases, extra virgin cod liver oil is a good option. This type of cod liver oil is raw and produced using no heat or solvents either. It contains no lactic acid and is easier for some to tolerate.
These tested and vetted brands of high vitamin cod liver oil are the only ones recommended for adults -or- babies!
Should Babies Get Cod Liver Oil?
What is the appropriate dosage for a young child given that the daily recommended intake of Vitamin D has increased significantly in recent years?
When my children reached 3 months old, I started giving them 1/4 tsp of high vitamin cod liver oil daily with an eyedropper. All were exclusively breastfed. Incidentally, I was taking high vitamin cod liver oil myself on a daily basis as well. Moms need natural A/D too!
Sally Fallon Morell, President of the Weston Price Foundation, told me that her grandsons received 1/2 tsp of fermented cod liver oil on a daily basis when they were babies. They started receiving this supplement at age 3 months and experienced no problems.
This is double the dose that I gave my own children. But, the appropriate daily dosage of vitamin D for children has increased significantly in recent years as more remarkable information about this nutrient has been revealed.
Krill or Fish Oil Not a Good Sub for Cod Liver Oil
Do not use krill oil or fish oil as a substitute for cod liver oil. Krill oil manufacturers do not reveal how much vitamin A/D is in their product. Similarly, plain fish oil is not a desirable substitute as it is a highly industrialized product (processed at obscenely high temperatures) and contains no natural vitamin A or D whatsoever. High vitamin cod liver oil is so far superior to anything else on the market. This is why the Weston A. Price Foundation recommends it alone.
How to Give Babies Cod Liver Oil
The easiest way to give babies cod liver oil is to put the 1/4-1/2 tsp daily dosage in a bottle of expressed Mother’s milk. You can also eye dropper it into the mouth a drop at a time if you aren’t pumping.
Use homemade baby formula if you are not able to nurse or have adopted a child. The homemade formula contains high vitamin cod liver oil as one of the key ingredients.
For Older Children
As the child gets older, a spoon can be used. My children all take high vitamin cod liver oil right off the spoon and chase with water. My youngest transitioned to this approach at weaning age with no trouble. This video shows you how to give children cod liver oil based on my experience over the years with my own children and coaching others on Traditional Diet.
Whatever you do, please consider this very important supplement for your baby. The benefits of adequate vitamin A and D in a child’s diet are significant and numerous. This supplement benefits the development of healthy bone structure, higher IQ, increased lung capacity, lowered risk for autoimmune disease, and markedly reduced risk for respiratory infection among many others.
If you have a creative way to get cod liver oil into your babies and children that would be helpful to share, please add in the comments section. I would be very interested to hear of your experiences as I’m sure others would as well.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
The Healthy Home Economist holds a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Mother to 3 healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, ABC, NBC, and many others.