Toddlers and multivitamins  

All parents and caregivers have different dreams for their little ones, but they all largely want the same thing: healthy children. With that desire in mind, it only seems sensible to think it would be a good decision to incorporate more nutrients into their day in one easy tablet, right?  

It may come as a surprise to hear that experts have not come to an official consensus on whether multivitamins are needed for toddlers. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) claims the majority of children don’t need supplements because most food toddlers consume is already fortified, and advises only giving children a supplement when recommended by a doctor.

Still, can a little extra nutrition hurt?

Why your toddler may need a multivitamin

Despite the fact that the AAP doesn’t specifically recommend multivitamins for toddlers, they also recognize that multivitamins will not pose any harm to children as long as the dosage does not exceed the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for any given vitamin or mineral.  

Toddlers with dietary restrictions, like the ones who follow vegetarian or vegan diets, or who are lactose-intolerant, would probably benefit from the added nutrients found in multivitamins. Toddlers who are anemic may also be recommended an iron supplement by their healthcare providers.

Pros

Multivitamins can help fill the gaps for a toddler who is particularly picky, or a toddler whose diet is lacking vitamins due to food restrictions. If your child is lactose-intolerant, a multivitamin will provide additional calcium and vitamin D, which he might otherwise get from dairy products. Toddlers who do not consume meat, eggs, or dairy products will also benefit from the riboflavin, calcium, and iron found in a multivitamin.

Cons

Too much of a good thing can end up being a bad thing. You’ll want to ensure that Baby isn’t getting more than the RDA of any vitamin or mineral, which could lead to a nutritional imbalance and prevent his body from properly absorbing nutrients. Beyond that, the human body is built to absorb nutrients more effectively from food than it absorbs nutrients from supplements, so a multivitamin should not be used as a replacement for a well-rounded diet.

Tips

If you and your child’s doctor decide a multivitamin is a good fit, there are a few things to consider. First, at this age, it’s best to choose a liquid multivitamin to avoid choking. Be sure to keep the liquid locked up with other medicines, as children’s multivitamins often taste fairly delicious, which can make a toddler want more than he should. Remember to administer only the recommended dosage each day, and if your child does have more than the advised amount, it’s best to immediately contact your pediatrician or poison control.


Sources
  • “Where We Stand: Vitamins.” Healthy Children. American Academy of Pediatrics, November 21 2015. Web.

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