Infant and Toddler Nutrition: Vitamin D Requirements for Toddlers

by Carla on August 26, 2009

When starting your child care business, daycare food programs and daycare nutrition are vital component to consider. Parents in conjunction with child care providers must work together to ensure that children receive the proper amount of vitamins and minerals each day.

According to the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine research by the Children’s Hospital in Boston shows that at least 40 percent of American infants and toddlers aren’t getting enough vitamin D. 12 percent of the young children in the United States are deficient in vitamin D while 28 percent of infants and toddlers are at risk for vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D is a nutrient important for bone grown, bone strength and neuromusular health. Vitamin D helps toddlers’ immune system function and reduces inflammation in the body.  It also helps reduce the risk of rickets (softening of bones in children which can lead to fractures and deformity). A deficiency in vitamin D will restrict calcium absorption. The amount of Vitamin D currently recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics is 400 IU (international units) daily.

As a daycare provider, how do you make sure the children in your care are receiving enough Vitamin D and that you are serving foods that are rich in vitamin D? The best source of Vitamin D is Milk. 8 ounces of vitamin D fortified milk contains 100 IU. However, be aware that the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines state that toddlers need no more than 16 ounces of milk per day (about 2 glasses). Too much milk can put your toddler at risk for iron-deficiency anemia and irritate your toddler’s gut.

Luckily, children in your daycare center can absorb vitamin D from sunlight or by eating vitamin D rich foods in addition to milk. There are a variety of vitamin D rich foods that help toddlers meet their Vitamin D requirements. Some examples of vitamin D rich foods to include in your child’s diet:

  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Swiss cheese
  • Tuna
  • Yogurt
  • Mackerel
  • Beef liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Mushrooms
  • Ice Cream
  • Vitamin D -fortified cereal (check the label – Total or Cheerios for example)
  • Cream Cheese

You may also try these tasty, toddler-friendly, vitamin D-rich recipes at home or in your child care center:

Pineapple-Orange Smoothie: Blend 8 ounces calcium and Vitamin D-fortified orange juice, pineapple chunks and low-fat vanilla yogurt in using a blender, hand blender, or food processor.

Teriyaki Salmon: Marinade salmon steaks in teriyaki sauce for 2 hours. Arrange salmon skin side down in a pan sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle brown sugar over the salmon according to taste. Bake in an over at 375 for about 30 minutes or until salmon flakes with a fork.

What about Supplements? The American Academy of Pediatrics supports Vitamin D supplements for children. In your daycare business, is important to keep the lines of communication open to be sure you are meeting the needs of infants and toddlers in your care.

About Carla

Carla Snuggs has written 88 post in this blog.

Carla is a freelance writer from Southern California. She has a B.A. in early childhood education and a Master of Library and Information Science degree specializing in public librarianship and youth services.

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