There are several important factors to consider when choosing a supplement for your child.
The products featured in this article were selected based on the following criteria:
Ingredients: We looked for vitamins that are free of fillers, artificial flavors, food dyes, and preservatives. All products adhere to allowable health claims and labeling requirements, per Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, and are manufactured in facilities that adhere to current good manufacturing practices (CGMPs) established by the FDA.
Credibility: We chose products produced by medically credible companies that follow ethical, legal, and industry best standards and that provide objective measures of trust, such as having its supplements validated by third-party labs.
Dosage: We included products that are specifically formulated for infants or kids.
Supplement form: We included multivitamins in several forms, including liquid, chewable, dissolvable, and gummy.
Reputable brands: We selected products from well-known brands that adhere to strict manufacturing standards.
A note on price
General price ranges are indicated below with dollar signs ($–$$$). One dollar sign means the product is rather affordable, whereas three dollar signs indicate a higher cost.
Generally, prices range from $0.04–$1.20 per serving, or $13.99–$35.99 per container, though this may vary depending on where you shop.
Note that serving sizes or the recommended number of servings per day may vary by age of your child.
If your child follows a restrictive diet, cannot adequately absorb nutrients, or is a picky eater, they may benefit from taking vitamins.
Here are some tips on what to look for when selecting a supplement:
Third-party testing: To ensure that the contents match the label, look for a product that has been tested by a third party, such as NSF International, United States Pharmacopeia (USP), ConsumerLab.com, Informed Choice, or the Banned Substances Control Group.
Kid-specific formulation: Choose vitamins that are specifically made for kids. These products should not contain megadoses that exceed the daily nutrient needs of children.
Age-appropriate formulation: Select a product that is formulated for the specific age of your child. While many multivitamins are for kids 4 years and older, there are a few options for younger toddlers.
Nutrient needs: Be sure to talk with your child’s pediatrician or registered dietitian to determine which nutrients your kid’s multivitamin should contain.
Additives and sugar: When possible, choose a multivitamin that contains minimal amounts of added sugar and artificial additives.
Always discuss supplements with a healthcare professional before giving them to your child.
Kids’ nutrient needs depend on age, sex, size, growth, and activity level.
According to health experts, children ages 2–8 require 1,000–1,400 calories each day. Kids ages 9–13 need 1,400–2,600 calories daily, depending on certain factors such as activity level (8, 9).
In addition to including enough calories, a child’s diet should meet the following Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) (10):
DRI for ages 1–3
DRI for ages 4–8
300 micrograms (mcg)
600 IU (15 mcg)
600 IU (15 mcg)
While the above nutrients are some of the most commonly discussed, they aren’t the only ones kids need.
Children need some amount of every vitamin and mineral for proper growth and health, but the exact amounts vary by age. Older children and teens need different amounts of nutrients than younger kids to support optimal health.
Do kids have different nutrient needs than adults?
Kids need the same nutrients as adults but usually require smaller amounts.
As children grow, it’s vital for them to get adequate amounts of nutrients that help build strong bones, such as calcium and vitamin D (11).
Moreover, iron, zinc, iodine, choline, and vitamins A, B6 (folate), B12, and D are crucial for brain development in early life (12, 13).
Although kids may need smaller amounts of vitamins and minerals than adults do, they still need to get enough of these nutrients for proper growth and development.
have a condition that affects the absorption of or increases the need for nutrients, such as celiac disease, cancer, cystic fibrosis, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
have had surgery that affects the intestines or stomach
are extremely picky eaters and have trouble eating a variety of foods
Plant-based diets may increase the risk of certain nutrient deficiencies
In particular, kids who eat plant-based diets may be at risk of deficiencies in calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamins B12 and D — especially if they eat few or no animal products (17).
Vegan diets can be particularly dangerous for children if certain nutrients — such as vitamin B12, which is found naturally in animal foods — are not replaced through supplements or fortified foods.
Failing to replace these nutrients in children’s diets can lead to serious consequences, such as atypical growth and developmental delays (21).
However, it’s possible for children on plant-based diets to get adequate nutrition from diet alone if their parents are incorporating enough plant foods that naturally contain or are fortified with certain vitamins and minerals (17).
Certain conditions may affect absorption or increase nutrient needs
Children with celiac disease or IBD may have difficulty absorbing several vitamins and minerals, especially iron, zinc, and vitamin D. This is because these conditions cause damage to the areas of the gut that absorb micronutrients (19, 22, 23).
On the other hand, kids with cystic fibrosis have trouble absorbing fat and, as a result, may not adequately absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K (18).
In addition, children with cancer and other diseases that cause increased nutrient needs may require certain supplements to prevent disease-related malnutrition (24).
Picky eaters may not be getting enough vitamins and minerals
Finally, some studies have linked picky eating in childhood to low intakes of micronutrients (20, 25).
One study in 937 kids ages 3–7 found that picky eating was strongly associated with low intakes of iron and zinc (20).
Still, the results indicated that blood levels of these minerals were not significantly different in picky compared to non-picky eaters (20).
As a result, if you suspect that your child isn’t meeting their nutritional needs, its best to have them tested for nutritional deficiencies before giving them supplements.
To ensure children are getting adequate amounts of nutrients so that they don’t need supplements, make an effort to include a variety of nutritious foods in their diet.
Incorporating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and dairy products (if your child can tolerate them) into meals and snacks will likely provide enough vitamins and minerals.
To help your kid eat more produce, continually introduce new veggies and fruits prepared in different and tasty ways.
A healthy diet for kids should also limit added sugars and highly processed foods and focus on whole fruits over fruit juice.
However, if you feel that your child is not getting proper nutrition through diet alone, supplements can be a safe and effective method to deliver the nutrients children need.
Consult your child’s pediatrician or a registered dietitian if you’re concerned about your child’s nutritional intake.
The type of vitamin supplements your child needs will depend on their age and specific concerns. Consult with your pediatrician to see if your child needs or would benefit from taking vitamins.
If a pediatrician recommends that your child take vitamins, look for quality brands that have been tested by a third party and are formulated with the appropriate doses of nutrients for kids (to avoid toxicity).
When should kids start taking vitamins?
Not all kids need vitamins, but some groups may benefit from them (see below). In particular, breastfed and partially breastfed infants should be given vitamin D supplements shortly after birth (5).
Outside of this age group, when you should start giving vitamins to kids depends on when they begin to have needs that warrant vitamins. For instance, a child who has undergone surgery that affects nutrient absorption will likely need to start taking vitamins after the surgery.
Discuss with your pediatrician to confirm the best time to give vitamins to your child.
Should you give your child vitamins?
Children who eat a balanced diet generally do not need to take vitamin supplements. However, some kids may need them if they are at risk of deficiencies.
This would include children who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, have had surgery affecting their intestines, have a medical condition that affects nutrient absorption, or are very picky eaters.
Kids who eat a healthy, balanced diet typically fulfill their nutrient needs through food.
Still, vitamin supplements may be necessary for picky eaters, children who have a health condition that affects nutrient absorption or increases nutrient needs, or those following a vegetarian or vegan diet.
When providing vitamins to children, be sure to choose high quality brands that contain appropriate doses for kids and stick to the recommended dosage.
It’s also best to be cautious of giving your child supplements without documented evidence of a deficiency.
To ensure your child is getting enough nutrients, try to offer them a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods and limits sweets and refined foods.
Last medically reviewed on January 3, 2023
How we reviewed this article:
Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.
Mar 14, 2023
Lizzie Streit, Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD
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Jan 3, 2023
Lizzie Streit, Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD
Kelli McGrane, MS, RD
Medically Reviewed By
Imashi Fernando, MS, RDN, CDCES
Copy Edited By
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This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.
Our team of licensed nutritionists and dietitians strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.
This article contains scientific references. The numbers in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.