Toddlers who won’t eat can run the risk of short-term nutritional deficiencies. But forcing kids to eat or using rewards can backfire and make them want to avoid healthy foods even more.
Vitamins for children are available in different formats. Check labels for age-appropriate dosages. For example, large doses of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and E can be toxic for kids.
Vitamin C is famous for its immune-boosting powers, but that’s just the start of this super nutrient’s benefits. It also helps build and maintain bones, skin, cartilage and the immune system; helps form blood vessels; protects against oxidative stress; and heals wounds.
It also encourages the absorption of iron from foods and plays an important role in building healthy cells, making carnitine, a key chemical in the brain, and promoting normal growth and development. While toddlers typically get enough vitamin C from their diets – national surveys show they get about 90% of the daily value (DV) for this nutrient in a typical serving of food – some may benefit from a separate vitamin C supplement.
A good multivitamin will contain vitamin C, or you can look for specific supplements that are made specifically for kids. Make sure you pick one that is formulated for kids, and follow the dosing advice on the label. Vitamin C in large doses can cause nausea and headache, so don’t exceed the recommended amount on the label.
The best way to ensure your child gets the nutrients they need is to eat a balanced diet of whole foods. But it’s perfectly normal for kids to go through fussy eating phases, and a supplement can help to bridge the nutritional gap while you work on getting them back onto a healthier balanced diet. You can find a great range of kids vitamins by Zoo-Vite online at DoctorAnywhere, at Essentials Pharmacy @ People’s Park Centre or in selected Watsons, Guardian and Nishino stores. Use the promo code SASSYMAMA20 for 20% off on regular price supplements until Nov 30. Happy shopping mamas!
Vitamin D is another nutrient that’s tricky to get enough of from food. Kids can usually get enough by eating foods that are fortified with vitamin D, such as milk, cereal and yogurt. They can also get it by spending a brief amount of time outdoors in the sun (but don’t forget to use sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher).
Most multivitamins for toddlers contain vitamin D. Look for multivitamins that have 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D, which is the recommended daily amount for kids aged 1 and up. You can also find gummy and chewable multivitamins with vitamin D alone or in combination with other vitamins, such as calcium and iodine.
If your child is a picky eater, you might want to consider giving them a daily multivitamin to fill in any gaps in their diet. However, it’s always best to work on getting your children to eat a wide variety of whole foods.
A good multivitamin for kids should have minimal added ingredients. Look for products that are free from soy, carrageenan, artificial sweeteners and colors (such as Red #40) and sucralose. Also look for products that don’t contain sorbitol, which is a chemical that can disrupt your children’s gastrointestinal tract. Some good options include Hiya gummies, which come in a cute reusable container and have no artificial sweeteners; Childlife Essentials soft-melts, which are a little bigger than the Hiya gummy but still a small size; or Zarbee’s liquid multivitamins, which are easy to add to food and have a mellow berry flavor.
Calcium is a key nutrient for healthy bone growth and development. Kids need two to three servings per day of high-calcium foods, including dairy products and leafy greens. But if your child can’t or won’t eat these foods—or is lactose intolerant or has milk allergies—a supplement is a good option.
Dairy is the best source of calcium for toddlers, but it isn’t the only way to get this important nutrient. Nondairy sources of calcium include fortified orange juice and cereals, as well as soy and some bean products (such as soymilk). The calcium in these foods isn’t as easily absorbed as that found in milk, so it’s important to pair them with a source of vitamin D.
Other dietary sources of calcium include sesame seeds (added to hamburger buns on burger night), chia seeds, and almonds (a great addition to baked goods like lemon poppy seed muffins). Try to incorporate these foods into your child’s diet to help meet his calcium needs.
Many toddlers don’t eat enough vegetables, so make sure that you offer them frequently. Try cutting vegetables into fun shapes or using different cooking methods, such as steaming or roasting, to make them more appealing. And don’t forget about protein-rich options like beans and soy products, which are excellent sources of calcium, as well as fish with soft bones such as sardines. Also, be sure to cook and serve meats using a tenderizing technique so that the meat is easier to chew for your child. This will ensure that he gets the nutrients he needs from his meal.
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that can only be obtained from dietary sources. It helps to keep the nerve and blood cells healthy and also helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. A deficiency in this vitamin can lead to a type of anemia that makes people tired and weak. Vitamin B12 is found in animal products, like milk and eggs, and fortified foods, such as soymilk and veggie meats. It is also available in supplements, such as gummy vitamins, chewable tablets and liquid multivitamins.
If your kids are a picky eater or just not growing well, you might want to talk with your pediatrician about using a multivitamin supplement. You will need to be careful with the type and dosage of the supplement that you use, though. It is important that it does not contain too much of certain vitamins and minerals, especially iron. Too much of this mineral can lead to constipation, dizziness and headaches in children and adults.
A good rule of thumb is to stick with a multivitamin that does not have more than 100% of the recommended daily value for most of the vitamins and minerals for your kids’ age group. This will help to ensure that they get the most out of their food and don’t have too many excesses in their body.
If your kids are on a plant-based diet, you may need to give them vitamin B12 supplements. Plant-based diets are generally high in calcium, but can be low in vitamin D and vitamin B12. It is important to look for foods that are fortified with these vitamins and nutrients and to check labels.
Known as the good bacteria in our gut, probiotics help keep the digestive tract running smoothly and drive out bad microbes. They also support the immune system and aid in overall health and well-being, such as easing colic and eczema.
Probiotic supplements can be found in pill form, which kids may be able to swallow (depending on age and bravery), as well as chewable tablets that are typically easier for toddlers to handle. They’re usually shelf-stable, which means that refrigeration isn’t required.
You can also find probiotics in foods like yogurt with live cultures (look for the language on the label), kefir, which is a tangier cousin to drinkable yogurt, and other fermented items such as kimchi and sauerkraut. These are also excellent options for picky eaters.
In one study, toddlers who took a daily dose of Lactobacillus reuteri experienced less diarrhea and fewer respiratory infections than those who didn’t take the probiotic (6). This particular supplement, from Renew Life, is dairy-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free. It contains 6 strains of probiotics and is formulated to provide digestive health and immune support for kids ages 2 and up.
If your child is taking antibiotics, a probiotic containing the strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Saccharomyces boulardii can help prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea, according to a review of ten studies. These strains are available in therapeutic doses in over-the-counter probiotic supplements such as Culturelle for Kids and Florastor Kid. However, most experts recommend only using these probiotics as a short-term treatment. Continual use can actually make symptoms worse, as the antibiotics may destroy some of your toddler’s good gut bacteria. (1)