Your Green Baby

1 Feb

Should you supplement your toddler’s diet? What supplements should you give, if any? How much? When? How often?

Experts disagree on whether a daily multivitamin/mineral is a good idea for all children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), for example, advises giving your child a supplement only if your pediatrician recommends one. Because so many common foods are fortified, most children don’t need supplements, the AAP argues. On the other hand, the AAP acknowledges that a multivitamin/mineral supplement won’t hurt as long as it doesn’t exceed the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for any vitamin or mineral. Other experts say that a daily supplement is a good way to fill in any gaps in your child’s nutrition.

Most experts do agree that:

  • As long as you don’t overdose your child on supplements (exceed the RDA for any one vitamin or mineral), a daily multivitamin won’t hurt.
  • Some children — like vegetarians, or those with sensitivities to certain foods, for example — might need a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement to meet their RDAs.
  • Supplements are not a substitute for good food, and they should never be used to justify a poor diet. If your child isn’t eating well, give him a supplement, but also take steps to improve his eating habits.

Personally I give a daily Vitamin, DHA 3, and probiotic to my daughter.  And even in the winter a dose of “Sniffle Stopper” (herbs that prevent the common cold)
Everything I use is all organic, gluten free, and vegan (except for the DHA). I take the same exact vitamins everyday except for adults all in pill form.

Here is some info on the daily preventative care I give my daughter and myself.

Probiotics – probiotics are good bugs or bacteria that live in our digestive tract, and provide us with health benefits beyond belief; in fact research continues today to discover what else these little “bugs” can do for us. Good bugs are still very important for your toddler. They aid in digestion, provide immunity, manufacture B vitamins and vitamin K among other things. If your toddler has been on antibiotics their good bacteria will have been wiped out along with the bad bacteria, this is an important time to re-inoculate the gut with good bacteria to ensure her immune system is strong and digestion is working well. Also if you have a baby girl antibiotics can give her yeast infections because it is taking all the good bacteria out of her system, another good reason to give her probiotics during this time. I give it daily, being on antibiotic or not.

At a year, I recommend moving to a child formulation or an adult formulation. I began giving Maya a children’s formulation in powder form at her first birthday. Half a teaspoon everyday mixed in her drink.

The benefits of probiotics include:
• They improve digestion by stimulating peristalsis, the rhythmic contractions of the large intestine
• They act as natural antibiotics helping to fight off bad bacteria in the gut
• They are responsible for the manufacturing of B vitamins and vitamin K. B vitamins are important for energy production and vitamin K for blood clotting.
• The usage of probiotics during pregnancy is linked to a decrease in eczema and other allergies in babies.
• Probiotics are important for immune health – believe it or not up to 80% of our immune system is located in our digestive tract
• Probioitcs have been shown to aid in the elimination of digestive complaints including gassiness, constipation, diarrhea and IBS
• Probiotics can also help to reduce symptoms of colic in your baby.

Supplementation with a good quality probiotic is suggested to ensure colonization for the digestive tract. You can find probiotics in some food products including yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh and miso but they will not contain enough to properly colonize your gut and provide maximum benefits.

Vitamin D – For all the same reasons this was important for your baby, it remains important for your toddler. You can choose to supplement or during the summer you can get your energetic toddler outside for some sunshine on unprotected skin – just 15 to 20 minutes 3 to 4 times per week is enough, before or after the strongest rays of the day. If you live in the north, supplementation during the winter months will be necessary as the sun is not strong enough for our bodies to produce vitamin D.

Supplementation recommendations for toddlers given by The Vitamin D Council are for  1000 IU per day for every 25lbs of body weight.

DHA – This healthy fat continues to be important for your toddler. The nervous system and brain are still developing; supporting this development with DHA is important. If you are still breastfeeding your baby will get DHA from you if your diet is sufficient. If he is not breastfeeding then you can begin to supplement with a DHA supplement, usually found in the form of fish oil. There are fish oil formulations for toddlers, usually flavoured to make getting in them a little easier. For vegetarians you can opt to use an algae source of DHA. It comes in a capsule. The photo above is Maya’s DHA in liquid form and strawberry flavored. I mix half a teaspoon in her coconut juice daily. And she drinks it up no problem!

Multivitamin – A multivitamin is really just insurance that your active toddler is meeting his needs for minerals and vitamins. As I mentioned earlier food and eating are not always a top priority for your toddler so providing a multivitamin will ensure they are meeting their needs and preventing a deficiency. The photo above is also Maya’s Multi Vitamin, in liquid form 2 full teaspoon is what I give her.

Vitamin B12 – This is an important vitamin that is lacking in a plant based diet. If your toddler is not fond of meat or if you are raising a vegetarian toddler supplementing with vitamin B12 is important. Vitamin B12’s primary functions are in the formation of red blood cells and the maintenance of a healthy nervous system. B12 is also necessary for the rapid synthesis of DNA during cell division. Not a necessary supplement for a meat eating toddler, but very necessary for a vegetarian toddler.

Good Luck and Keep your little bean Healthy and Happy 🙂

(This article is geared towards toddlers not babies under the age of 1 year.)

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