The Best Children’s Vitamins

Many parents of picky eaters are left to wonder if their kids are getting the vitamins and minerals their bodies need. The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that a well-balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, low-fat milk products and whole grains provides adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals. However, for children lacking proper nutrition, vitamin supplements may be beneficial, as long as they are taken in the proper dosages. But finding proper children’s vitamins can be challenging for parents, since vitamin supplement labels are not evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and vitamin manufacturers can make false claims. For instance, multivitamins labeled “complete” may not actually have all of the vitamins and minerals recommended for children. Thus, it is essential that parents discuss vitamin use with their pediatrician and read labels carefully before purchasing supplements for their children. The dietary supplements label database found at the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine website is a great place for parents to look when determining age-appropirate vitamins and minerals for their children.

Breast-fed Infants

Exclusively breast-fed babies do not receive adequate amounts of certain vitamins, particularly vitamin D. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend a vitamin supplement for babies who are exclusively breast-fed. Enfamil Tri-Vi-Sol is a sugar-free fruit-flavored vitamin drop that contains vitamins A, C and D. Dr. Jason B. Sauberan of the University of California San Diego Medical Center recommends Tri-Vi-Sol for breast-fed infants, particularly those with low birth weight, because it is easier on their stomachs.

Older Babies

As babies transition to solid foods, they might not be taking in as much breast milk or formula. Rapid growth might be occurring at this time and vitamins and minerals are crucial. Enfamil Poly-Vi-Sol provides additional nutrients for older babies during these periods. According to the National Institutes of Health’s label database, these vitamin drops provide vitamin E and several B vitamins in addition to those found in Tri-Vi-Sol. Poly-Vi-Sol can also be purchased with iron, which may be essential, as some babies’ iron stores begin to deplete after 6 months.

Toddlers and Preschoolers

Toddlers now have their own vitamins called My First Flintstones. These small, easy-to-chew tablets provide 14 essential nutrients for toddler growth (and also contain soy). While toddlers and preschoolers can take other vitamins on the market, most are designed for older children and must be cut in half to accommodate the needs of 2- and 3-year-olds. My First Flintstones contain the dietary reference intakes specifically recommended for toddlers by the Institute of Medicine.

School-Age Chldren

The Mayo Clinic believes most school-age children do not need vitamin supplements, since many consume fortified foods. However, if supplementation is necessary, Centrum Kids Complete chewable multivitamins offer more essential vitamins and minerals than any other leading vitamin brand on the market, according to a vitamin label comparison using the National Institute of Medicine’s Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) chart. (DRIs are the recommended amounts of vitamins a child should receive.) Centrum Kids Complete does contain milk, soy and wheat, however, and should not be taken by children with those allergies. Flintstones Complete, another popular child’s multivitamin and well-respected brand among parents, has adequate amounts of all essential vitamins and minerals as well, according to a DRI label comparison. It also contains soy.

About Gummy Vitamins

Although gummy vitamins have gained popularity, these vitamins might not be as good as their traditional counterparts. Many require children to take two to meet their vitamin needs. There is also some concern about overdosing, as these supplements look like candy. Parents must be careful to close and store bottles properly. According to USA Today, gummy vitamins may also cause cavities. Thus, children should be given gummy vitamins with meals or just prior to brushing. L’il Critters Gummy Vites are a top choice, as they contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. As with most gummy vitamins, the first ingredient in these vitamins is corn syrup.

About this Author

Based in Maryland, Angela Lang has been a registered dietitian for nearly 12 years. She has been an avid nutrition educator in areas including diabetes, cancer and weight loss. Also a freelance writer with LIVESTRONG, Lang specializes in topics related to healthy eating to reduce obesity and cancer risk.