Vitamins for Kids: Vital or Not?
Giving your child a multivitamin seems like a safe bet, particularly if you have a picky eater -- sort of like an insurance policy. But in truth most babies and toddlers don't need them. "Vitamins will not protect your child from common childhood illnesses or make him grow faster or taller," says Dr. Contini. He adds that so many foods are fortified with vitamins and minerals these days -- for instance, bread contains folate and iron, and orange juice has calcium -- that even if your child is not the best eater, once he's eating table food, chances are he is getting plenty of vitamins.
Still, there are a few circumstances in which your doctor may prescribe a multivitamin. A vitamin drop or extra iron may be recommended for preemies, low birth weight babies, and babies with certain metabolic disorders, says Dr. Contini. Some doctors also routinely prescribe multivitamin drops for breastfed babies because breast milk lacks sufficient vitamin D and, after 6 months, may not provide enough iron. However, if a baby is healthy and Mom is well nourished and taking a multivitamin herself, this is not needed. Moreover, at 6 months most babies start eating solids that provide iron. Kids typically hate the strong metallic taste of vitamin drops, so it's just as well. Of course, if giving your child a daily multivitamin makes you feel better, go right ahead; generally, they're not harmful.
Copyright © 2007. Used with permission from the October 2007 issue of American Baby magazine.
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