Growing children, especially those who don't eat a varied diet, sometimes don't get enough vitamins A and C. It's also difficult to get enough vitamin D through food alone.
That's why the Department of Health recommends that all children aged 6 months to 5 years are given vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D every day.
It's also recommended that babies who are being breastfed are given a daily vitamin D supplement from birth, whether or not you're taking a supplement containing vitamin D yourself.
Babies who are having more than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day shouldn't be given vitamin supplements. This is because formula is fortified with vitamin D and other nutrients.
Where can you get baby vitamin drops?
Your health visitor can give you advice on vitamin drops and tell you where to get them.
You're entitled to free vitamin drops if you qualify for Healthy Start.
Some over-the-counter supplements contain other vitamins or ingredients. Talk to your pharmacist about which supplement would be most suitable for your child.
Having too much of some vitamins can be harmful. Keep to the dose recommended on the label, and be careful not to give your child 2 supplements at the same time.
For example, don't give them cod liver oil and vitamin drops, as cod liver oil also contains vitamins A and D. One supplement on its own is enough.
Vitamin D is only found in a few foods, such as oily fish and eggs. It's also added to some foods, such as fat spreads and breakfast cereals.
The best source of vitamin D is summer sunlight on our skin. But it's important to keep your child's skin safe in the sun.
Children shouldn't be out in the sun too long in hot weather. Remember to cover up or protect their skin before it turns red or burns.
Young children should still have vitamin drops, even if they get out in the sun.
Read more about vitamin D and sunlight.
The Department of Health recommends that:
- Babies from birth to 1 year of age who are being breastfed should be given a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms (µg) of vitamin D to make sure they get enough. This is whether or not you're taking a supplement containing vitamin D yourself.
- Babies fed infant formula shouldn't be given a vitamin D supplement if they're having more than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day, because infant formula is fortified with vitamin D and other nutrients.
- Children aged 1 to 4 years old should be given a daily supplement containing 10µg of vitamin D.
Vitamin A is important for babies and young children, and some may not be getting enough.
It strengthens their immune system, can help their vision in dim light, and keeps skin healthy.
Good sources of vitamin A include:
- dairy products
- fortified fat spreads
- carrots, sweet potatoes, swede and mangoes
- dark green vegetables, such as spinach, cabbage and broccoli
Vitamin supplements containing vitamins A and C are recommended for babies and children aged 6 months to 5 years old, unless they're getting more than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day.
Vitamin C is important for your child's general health and immune system. It can also help their body absorb iron.
Good sources of vitamin C include:
- kiwi fruit
Healthy eating for children
It's important for children to eat healthily to make sure they're getting all the energy and nutrients they need to grow and develop properly.
Get more advice and information on healthy eating for babies and young children: