The benefits of giving babies cod liver oil, at what age to begin, how to administer, and the daily dosage as recommended by the experts.
Should babies get cod liver oil as a supplement? If so, how young should this age-old traditional food be started? Are all brands of cod liver oil the same, or are there some that are vetted to be of higher quality?
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 A. Price Foundation below. (1)
Which Cod Liver Oil is Best for Babies?
Dr. Weston A. Price was very clear about the type of cod liver oil to give babies and children. It should be the high vitamin variety.
Unfortunately, almost all companies that produce cod liver oil have cheapened their manufacturing process over the years to either remove natural vitamins A/D and replace them with synthetic versions, reduce the amounts of A/D, or both.
In other words, most brands of cod liver oil are no longer considered high vitamin. Only a few quality ones remain on the market!
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 the company started removing some of the natural vitamin A.
A few companies refused to cheapen their products and stopped using Norwegian manufacturers because the natural vitamin A/D was replaced with synthetic versions. A method for producing a high vitamin cod liver oil by fermenting the cod livers (not the oil!) was developed.
The resulting product is produced with no heat or solvents. However, this form of cod liver oil contains 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 (such as this brand). This type of cod liver oil is raw and produced without heat or solvents. Additionally, it contains no lactic acid, which is easier for some to tolerate, especially babies and young children.
Health and Developmental Benefits
The benefits of adequate (natural) vitamin A and D from cod liver oil in a growing child’s diet are significant. Two of the most important are naturally straight teeth and improved learning at school.
Other benefits include 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. (2)
Appropriate Age and Dosage
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!
For example, Sally Fallon Morell, President of the Weston Price Foundation, told me that her grandchildren received 1/2 tsp of 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 scientists uncovered additional information about this remarkable nutrient.
Krill or Fish Oil Not a Good Substitute
It is important to not use krill oil or fish oil as a substitute for cod liver oil. Krill oil contains no vitamin D and very little vitamin A.
Similarly, plain fish oil is not a desirable substitute as it is a highly industrialized product (processed at high temperatures) and contains no natural vitamin A or D whatsoever.
High vitamin cod liver oil (this is the brand I’ve used since 2015) is far superior to other forms of marine oils on the market.
How to Give Babies Cod Liver Oil
There are several ways to ensure a baby is getting the proper amount of cod liver oil for optimum growth.
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 baby’s mouth a drop at a time if you aren’t pumping.
If you are not nursing, consider using this homemade baby formula developed by a PhD in Nutritional Sciences. It contains high vitamin cod liver oil as one of the key ingredients.
Another option is to apply cod liver oil to the skin. It absorbs quite well this way. For babies, try rubbing some on their bottom during a diaper change.
Note that old-time brands of diaper rash ointment used to contain cod liver oil!
As children get 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 own experience over the years and coaching others on Traditional Diet.
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.
(1, 2) Weston A. Price Foundation: Cod Liver Oil