You may be asking yourself, “How young is too young for your kid to begin taking a daily vitamin? Is a toddler too young to be taking a multivitamin?”
These are great—and very common—questions among parents.
As parents, we only want the best for our kids and take the role responsibly when it comes to ensuring they live healthy and happy lives.
When your child is a toddler they are experiencing a period of great cognitive, emotional, physical and social developments. Many are learning to walk, talk, and eat solid food.
While nutrition should never be ignored or compromised at any age, the period when your kid is a toddler is especially important as they are experiencing such rapid growth in so many different facets of your life!
What Are Vitamins:
Before we go any further, let’s chat about what vitamins are and why toddlers need them. Vitamins are essential compounds that allow for a functioning toddler. They help them see the world, grow strong, make bones and connective tissue, fight infection, heal bruises and keep their teeth strong.
Food that is naturally rich with vitamins includes:
- Protein—such as chicken, fish, meat, and eggs;
- Whole Grains—such as steel-cut oats and brown rice;
- Dairy—such as milk, cheese, and yogurt; and
- Fruits + Vegetables—such as apples, bananas, broccoli and spinach
While toddlers are notorious for being picky eaters, unfortunately we never really know if they're getting their proper vitamins through a healthy diet.
Important Vitamins Your Toddler Needs:
It's important to make sure your toddler is getting the daily nutrients required for their cognitive, emotional, physical and social growth through a balanced diet with plenty of healthy foods. Some of those key nutrients are found in the following vitamins:
- Calcium: Good for the bones and fantastic for long term development, Calcium is one of the most important vitamins for toddlers, yet it's not produced naturally by the body, meaning it must come from food or vitamins. And the more calcium your toddler can store, the more prepared they will be to fight off diseases such as osteoporosis when they are in adulthood, as Calcium can be banked in the body for long-term use to promote strong bones.
- Vitamin A: Equally important for your toddler’s brain development is Vitamin A. Helping with vision and a well-functioning immune system, Vitamin A also helps them fight off any risk of dealing with acne later in life.
- Vitamin B12: Did you know that we as humans can not actually produce Vitamin B12 on our own? It is normally sourced from animal products, so if your toddler follows a vegetarian or vegan diet, giving them extra Vitamin B12 might be a good idea. Vitamin B12 will help improve young children's memory and boost their energy, along with fighting off any heart disease as they age.
- Vitamin C: Ah, the good ole’ Vitamin C—we can’t ever really get enough of it. Boosting Vitamin C is always one of the first solutions to help your toddler conquer the common cold, as it is one of the most ideal vitamins for strengthening the immune system. Having enough Vitamin C is one of the most ideal nutrition markers for your toddler’s overall health and ensures their body will be able to fight off any nasty germs they might encounter.
- Vitamin D: Good for the bones and the brain, Vitamin D has a big role to play when it comes to your toddler’s growth and ability to absorb calcium. Yet did you know that Vitamin D is found in ultraviolet light? This means that during wintertime, your toddler probably needs some extra Vitamin D for that extra boost.
Pros and Cons of Toddlers Taking a Daily Vitamin Supplement:
So, back to the original question—should toddlers take a daily vitamin? It is a hard question to simply answer, and ultimately it is up to you—the parent—to make this call.
But here are some pros and cons to consider when determining if you should give your toddler a daily vitamin.
Pro: a daily vitamin will give you peace of mind that your toddler is properly nourished.
Con: a daily vitamin may not be necessary for healthy toddlers with zero deficiencies.
Pro: a daily vitamin helps solve the battle over food when your toddler is a picky eater.
Con: a daily vitamin should not be an excuse to eat unhealthy.
Pro: a daily vitamin can strengthen your toddler’s immune system, cognitive ability, and energy levels.
Con: if does are too high some vitamins can be especially bad for your child.
Pro: a daily vitamin acts as a supplement to the vitamins already received through food.
Con: a daily vitamin (especially those with sugar) can be addictive, so limits are important.
Situations in Which You Should Consider Giving Your Toddler a Daily Vitamin:
It really is up to you, the parent, to decide if your toddler is ready and in need of daily vitamins. It never hurts to get a professional opinion, so as a general rule of thumb, it is always recommended to have a chat with your toddler’s pediatrician before making any decisions.
While there are really no set rules or criteria for when they should start taking a daily vitamin, it is normally advised if your toddler falls into any of scenarios:
- You as a parent live a busy life and are not always able to make wholesome home-cooked meals;
- Your toddler struggles to eat enough vegetables the day and are often low on energy;
- Your toddler eats lots of processed foods like pizza, macaroni, or cereal;
- You have noticed a delay in your toddler’s physical or developmental growth;
- Your toddler follows a restricted diet—such as vegetarian or vegan;
- Your toddler suffers from chronic diseases or food allergies;
Tips for Choosing The Right Daily Vitamin for Your Toddler
Now comes the often most overwhelming part of the whole process—figuring out what daily vitamin to give your toddler. In this crazy consumerism world, there are many companies with the sole focus of making a profit. This can be a scary thought, as you want to make sure you are giving your toddler a product that is nutritiously and ethically made—one that will actually do more good for them. But rest assured, there are plenty of honest vitamin companies out there, such as Hiya, who make their vitamins for kids with integrity.
How to Select the Best Daily Vitamin for Your Toddler:
- Team up with a health professional: Work with your toddler’s pediatrician to decide what the best daily vitamin will be for them and a plan of action on how to implement it into their daily routine. You will also have peace of mind that you are doing the right thing and backed by the professionals.
- Purchase brands that are high-quality: Not all vitamins are tried and created equally. Some important perks to keep an eye out for include vitamins that are made from 0% sugar, no chemicals, and loaded with the most vitamins and minerals, organic fruits and veggies, dental-friendly and made in the United States.
- Choose kid-friendly vitamins: The doses of daily nutrients vary in vitamins for toddlers compared to adults. You don’t want to cause harm to your toddler by giving them megadoses of vitamins that their bodies don’t need yet. So, keep an eye out on labels that say the vitamins are kid-friendly. Companies like Hiya produce vitamins with kids in mind and ensure each ingredient has a beneficiary purpose to your toddler.
- Make it fun: The best part about vitamins for toddlers is that they come in lots of fun colors, shapes, look super appealing and are very tasty to eat. While it is not a suitable replacement for candy as they only need one a day, a daily vitamin for your toddler can become a fun part of their routine that they look forward to! Try to look for a gummy vitamin or chewable vitamin that your preschooler will want to take.