Walking down the vitamin aisle in the grocery store can be overwhelming – even for us adults! There seems to be a pill or powder or potion for everything. It can be difficult to discern which vitamins and supplements we should be prioritizing. While it seems easy to sweep away that noise for our babies, but making sure our children are getting all of their vitamins and minerals young can set them up for a lifetime of good health.
Children are rapidly growing, and vitamins and minerals are essential to supporting their little bodies' growth and development. Many formulas are fortified with extra nutrients, and breastmilk often supplies your baby with almost everything they need to stay healthy. However, once your baby starts weaning off their all-liquid diet, solid foods may not be providing them with their daily recommended dosages of certain vitamins. These gaps in nutrition are especially likely if your child is proving to be a picky eater. Have no fear – supplements are here!
Choosing Your Child’s Multivitamin
There are a plethora of options when it comes to multivitamins for your child. When choosing a vitamin, it is crucial to find a brand and product you trust. Some top factors to consider when choosing your child’s supplements include:
· Finding a product free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
· Select one that is specially formulated for children and not adults. Children require different dosages than adults do, and too much of certain vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K, can be toxic to children.
· Choosing the proper form for your child. If you child is still learning how to feed themselves and manage solid foods, opt for liquid forms rather than gummy options or tablets to prevent choking. Along those same lines, while gummies are enticing ways to get your children excited about taking their vitamins, be sure to counsel them that despite how they look and taste, these are not candy! Countless children every year have adverse reactions after eating too many gummy vitamins in one sitting.
Specific Vitamins to Look Out For
While multivitamins do an incredible job of checking all of the boxes, keep an eye out for a few key vitamins and minerals your child is relying on to grow big and strong!
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the professionals at the Mayo Clinic agree that if you are breastfeeding your baby, you should also be giving them 400 IU of Vitamin D each day starting shortly after birth. Even if your baby is drinking vitamin D-fortified formula, if they are not drinking at least 32 ounces per day, you should still supplement vitamin D. Make sure to check the nutrition label on the formula canister to see how much of their daily recommended dose each serving satisfies.
Vitamin D is crucial for building strong bones, durable teeth, building your baby’s immune systems, and assisting the absorption of all the other vitamins and minerals they need.
Breastfeeding babies, especially if the mother is vegan or vegetarian, may require iron supplements. Did you know babies need 11 mg of iron each day? Until they can start eating iron-rich foods like meat and dark, leafy green, iron supplements are a foolproof way of ensuring they are hitting their daily iron goals.
Your baby is rapidly growing every day. Iron aids in developing strong bones and muscles and also increases our blood supply, which is necessary for their ever-expanding bodies.
Calcium is known for building strong teeth and bones. However, since many babies do not start consuming cow’s milk until later, calcium supplements can help fill those gaps. Additionally, inadequate calcium levels in childhood can have resounding effects by causing fragile, porous bones, leaving your child prone to fractures throughout their lives.
Vitamin C helps support robust immune systems, which comes in handy during particularly nasty cold and flu seasons. Vitamin C is also responsible for strengthening our muscles, bones, and skin. Be careful though! Too much vitamin C can have severe consequences such as vomiting and diarrhea. As long as you are hitting the daily recommended dose, you will be reaping all of the benefits Vitamin C has to offer.
DHA Omega-3 Fatty Acids
I’ll admit, this last supplement is tricky. It is not recommended for babies under 6 months of age to take a DHA Omega-3 Fatty Acid. However, if you are breastfeeding, you can take the supplement, and then your baby will receive safe stores of it through your breastmilk. After 6 months, your baby can start directly taking this supplement.
DHA Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for developing healthy eyes, a buzzing brain, and kickstarting your baby’s cognition. Your baby’s brain is soaking in boatloads of information! An additional boost of DHA can assist your baby as they learn about the world around them.
Daily Recommended Doses
According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, below are the recommended doses of these supplements for your growing child.