Eating a healthy diet is the best way to ensure good nutrition - but doctors do recommend supplementing some important vitamins to make certain your toddler is getting enough.
Does my toddler need supplements?
The Government's Food Standards Agency recommends giving vitamin drops containing vitamins A, C and D to all children between 6 months and 5 years of age.
Of course, eating a healthy balanced diet every day should ensure your toddler is getting enough vitamins - but as any parent knows, getting a perfectly balanced diet into a toddler can be quite a challenge. Taking a vitamin supplement can help safeguard against any vitamin deficiencies.
One caveat, however: children who are still drinking more than 500ml of formula milk per day will be getting all the vitamins they need from this formula, so they won’t require any extra vitamin supplements. If they are drinking less formula than this, however, it’s a good idea to give them a supplement, just to be on the safe side.
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bone growth and development. A lack of vitamin D can lead to a disease called rickets, where the bones become soft and flexible. Our bodies make vitamin D when we expose our skin to summer sunlight; however, we don’t often get enough sun here in the UK to make as much vitamin D as we need. That's why the government recommends that most children under the age of 4 take a supplement containing vitamin D to make sure they are getting enough.
For babies under six months of age, the recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 8.5ug/day; for babies over six months it is 7ug/day. Most pharmacies carry vitamin drops which contain vitamin D, or you can get them on the Healthy Start scheme. (Formula-fed babies won’t need vitamin drops until their milk intake drops below 500ml a day, as formula milk already contains vitamin D.)
Follow-on and growing up milks can provide a valuable source of vitamin D for babies and young children over six months of age who have started weaning; another way to make sure your little one gets enough D is to let the sun shine on their arms and face for thirty minutes (though not at mid-day or in a hot climate; this should never lead to burning or tanning).