Does Your Toddler Need a Multivitamin?

It seems like with each passing day, parents are getting different information about what’s best for their child. While doctors can agree that it’s important to get your children vaccinated, there’s less consensus about whether or not your child should be taking a multivitamin. Most of us grew up eating Flinstones vitamins or a similar, child-friendly vitamin each morning, so we probably haven’t given it a second thought when it comes to our own offspring. That being said, there are a few reasons that it’s worth pausing to consider whether or not your toddler truly needs a multivitamin. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when considering whether to give your pre-school aged son or daughter a multivitamin.

Does your toddler take other medications?

If your toddler is on medications for a condition or other illness, it may be inadvisable to also give them a multivitamin. This is because some ingredients in multivitamins can interact with medications in adverse ways. Whether it’s causing an unwanted side effect or decreasing the efficacy or potency of their medication, these kinds of side effects can actually make your toddler’s health worse. If you want to give your toddler a multivitamin, just to be safe you should make sure that none of the minerals or ingredients in the multivitamin you give them interact with existing medications.

Is your toddler otherwise healthy?

For adults, vitamins are generally recommended if you aren’t getting enough of a certain vitamin. For example, since many individuals are now spending more time inside than outdoors, vitamin D is often prescribed since you might not be getting enough from the sun’s rays. Even so, for toddlers, children, and adults, it’s advisable to get most of your vitamins from whole foods like fruits and vegetables.

Even if your child is a picky eater, they may still be getting more vitamins naturally than you’d expect. For example, many kinds of cereal are high in folic acid, as well as B vitamins and iron. Calcium is also frequently found in breakfast cereals and is also used to fortify orange juice and milk. All of this means that the chances are high that your child already gets more necessary nutrients and vitamins than you’d expect just by eating breakfast.

If, on the other hand, your child has a restrictive diet because of other health issues, or has allergies to foods otherwise high in vitamins and nutrients, it may be worth talking to your doctor about a multivitamin. Sometimes, developmental delays are also caused by a lack of appropriate vitamins, in which case increasing your toddler’s consumption of those vitamins can be a good idea, too.

Is there a risk for your toddler if they take too high of a dosage?

One other thing to note is that there can be a risk of toxicity involved in taking doses of certain vitamins and minerals that are too high. If you want to give your child a multivitamin, it’s recommended that the dosage not exceed their daily value of 100 percent of any of the vitamins and minerals included in it. Make sure your child understands that vitamins aren’t candy, too, so you can keep them from accidentally overdosing on them.

While many parenting decisions come down to you and your spouse’s values and personal preferences, making medical decisions for your child becomes a bit more of a grey area. If you’ve answered the above questions and still aren’t sure whether or not there’d be a benefit or risk to giving your toddler a multivitamin, it’s prudent to check with their pediatrician. Getting information from your doctor is one of the best ways to get health guidance as a parent, and can ensure that you’re raising your child in accordance with medical and scientific recommendations.

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