Supplements in Toddlers
As a Parent, we all strive to raise happy and healthy children. This need starts long before we ever get to hold our little wonder of joy and doesn’t stop until – well does it ever really stop? We may not have a say anymore, but we still want what is best for our children. One topic parents may feel unsure about concerns the use of supplements in toddlers. They want to make certain their child is getting the proper nutrients but they’re unsure of the best way to accomplish this.
Years ago, when my first children were born, infants were placed on a vitamin supplement before leaving the hospital. Now supplements are only used when there is a need or when other health issues warrant them.
Babies don’t have a choice of what they eat. However, once that baby becomes a toddler all bets are off! They begin to learn what they like and they’ll be sure to let you know. Since many toddlers become fussy eaters, parents consider using supplements to be sure their children are getting the right nutrients for growth and health.
If your toddler is very picky in what they eat, asking only for a handful of food items, giving your toddler a vitamin and mineral supplement could be something to consider. Toddlers need vitamin A, C and D which probably aren’t provided for in large enough quantities in your toddler’s favorite foods. Your toddler also needs several of the B vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc and calcium for health, as well as 16 grams of protein each day. If your toddler is living on cheese sticks, nuggets or hot dogs; they may not be getting the nutrients they need to grow.
Before swearing off a food, try offering it your toddler at least twenty times. It is also a good guideline to offer new foods to your toddler with one tablespoon of food for each year of their age. Let them explore new foods with all of their senses and keep outside distractions to a minimum. Yes, this means there will be a mess at times!
It is important for your toddler to learn to eat what everyone else in the family is eating. Be sure to provide your child with a balanced diet of foods, whether they always eat what’s offered or not. Expect your child to eat the foods offered rather than preparing something different for them. We have always had a “polite bite” rule at the table – not everyone will like everything I place on the table (gasp I know!), however, they do have to try it.
However, if your child simply will not eat the foods which will provide the vitamins and minerals they need, finding a good multi-vitamin/multi-mineral supplement specifically formulated for toddlers may be in order. There are many options to choose from: chewable, powdered and liquid. Do not allow your child to think these are candy. Vitamins are medicine and can be harmful if too many are taken at once.
Of course it would be best for your toddler to get all of their required nutrients for health and growth from the foods they eat, it may not be possible. When you feel your toddler is not getting the nutrition they need, or if they are on a binge of eating only one food for months at a time; discuss this with your pediatrician and follow their recommendations.
What tips have you learned to encourage your toddler to eat healthy choices?