You’re staring at a bottle of gummy vitamins at the grocery store. Should you be buying these for your toddler? Or will they end up hurting more than helping? We polled a panel of professionals for input on when—and if—young children need supplements. Here’s what they had to say.
Courtney Bliss, MS RDN
Courtney Bliss, MS RDN is a registered dietitian, owner of Feeding Bliss, pediatric nutrition expert, and mom of two. She has worked extensively in pediatric nutrition, both in inpatient care and clinical research.
When they are able to safely chew
Toddlers may take vitamins when they are able to safely chew and swallow a gummy or something more chalky like a traditional kids multivitamin. For those who struggle chewing tablets or gummies, powdered or liquid vitamin options are available that can be added to other beverages.
Vitamins may be of help to a toddler when they are learning to accept a broader variety of foods. Choosing the right vitamin for your child’s needs is of the utmost importance, and consulting with a pediatric registered dietitian can provide you with appropriate guidance.
Dr. Lina Velikova, MD, PhD
Dr. Lina Velikova’s journey into the world of medicine started in 2004. She currently works as an Assistant professor at the Department of Clinical Laboratory and Clinical Immunology, Medical University of Sofia, Bulgaria. Web: supplements101.net
When kids don’t eat enough
I always advise parents to provide a healthy, balanced diet for their toddlers. Not only is it sufficient to supply all the vitamins and minerals to healthy kids, but the habit of healthy eating is also the basis for a healthy lifestyle that will last throughout their life.
However, if your toddler has a compromised immune response (more than usual for that age), they can start on vitamins C, D, and A as early as six months.
Healthy children that eat a balanced diet don’t have any reason to start on vitamins before turning 4. Here are some of the cases in which toddlers can take vitamins.
When kids don’t eat enough
When kids have allergies that prevent them from eating a balanced diet, such as dairy allergy
When kids have chronic medical conditions, digestive problems or asthma
When kids continually eat a poor diet - processed food, fast food, etc.
Dr. Kelly Curtin
Dr. Kelly Curtin (DO FAAP) is a board-certified pediatrician who treats patients in her community, works as a medical director for the Department of Human Services, and is an advisor to the health site Parenting Pod.
Children of any age can take vitamins
Most babies and children, but especially breastfed infants, are at risk for Vitamin D deficiency.
Chewable vitamins are choking hazards, so these are reserved for children over 3.
Vitamins come in liquid formulations that can be taken by a child of any age.
Be cautious about gummy vitamins. These are frequently deficient in iron, which is an important vitamin for growing children, and they put kids at risk for cavities.
Lisa Richards is a nutritionist and author of The Candida Diet. She has been featured on Today, US News, Women’s Health magazine, Huffington Post, Healthline, the San Francisco Chronicle, Reader’s Digest, Lifehack, Insider, and Well+Good, among others. Through her website, thecandidadiet.com, she explains the benefits of a low-sugar, anti-inflammatory diet.
Talk to your pediatrician
Most of us are starting to make our family's health a priority by eating better, exercising, and adding supplements to our health regimen. Some may be concerned that some of these approaches to health aren't appropriate for toddlers and younger children, especially regarding vitamins.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends speaking to your child's pediatrician prior to starting a vitamin. It is also understood that toddlers who are able to eat a balanced diet inclusive of fruit, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains shouldn't need a vitamin to achieve their nutrient needs. In short, toddlers can begin taking vitamins at any point, as early as 6 months, but this may not necessarily be needed.
Grace Shea MS, RDN, CSP, LDN
Grace Shea is a Pediatric Registered Dietitian, Mom, and founder of First Bites Nutrition. Her mission is to guide parents to nourish their little ones with whole foods, flexibility, and fun from the first bite.
Can take vitamins at any age
Toddlers can take vitamins starting at any age and are ideal for filling in nutritional gaps in their diet caused by picky eating. Toddlers should also begin taking vitamins early on, at 12 months old, if they have specific diet restrictions, follow a plant-based or vegan diet.
Generally, it is recommended that children under the age of two do not take vitamins. However, there are a few exceptions:
Breast-fed children are definitely encouraged to take a daily supplement of vitamin D to make sure that they are getting enough, as vitamin D is actually a hormone with many functions in the body.
Also, children between the ages of six months and five years should sometimes take a supplement containing vitamins A, C, and D, particularly if they are picky eaters. However, if your toddler is eating a healthy, balanced diet, then they may not need supplementation. The best idea would be to check with your physician to be sure that your child's health is optimized.
This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors are not necessarily affiliated with this website and their statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.
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