If you have seen great benefits from taking daily supplements and super foods, you may be keen to give your children the same boost. You may get frustrated that these are often not as child-friendly as you would like, and getting your children on-board to take their vitamins may prove to be an uphill struggle. Here are some cunning ideas to help them whizz down their daily goodness.
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In most cases, if you set the scene well (see this NatureDoc blog), your child should get the hang of taking some kids daily vitamins very quickly and easily. Many children are suspect of new foods, so funny tasting powders and capsules may just be too much. As a parent you will have a gut feeling on whether your little one will find it easy to take their daily food supplements or whether you need to use some clever tactics.
I see many kids in my clinic with very challenging health, behavioural and developmental issues who need some very intensive nutritional support. This often coincides with a child with major feeding problems, reflux, or sensory struggles, who refuses point blank to take any medicines or vitamins. In these cases you may need to think out of the box, to provide them with the nourishment they desperately need.
In other cases the supplements might just taste plain nasty! I have very strong memories of some vile bitter daily vitamins my father used to give me, that made me retch. I wish I had know about the tips below! Here are some very cunning ways of hiding the yucky tastes and textures, so your children take their supplements and start to blossom with health:
Smoosh them: Use a thick juice (strawberry banana, red grape, tropical or orange work well), fruit smoothie, fruit puree/baby food or yoghurt that your child loves. This forms the base from which to give the supplements. Apple juice does not work well as the powder or fish oil tends not to blend in well. Mix the puree and supplement together in a shot glass, ramekin or egg cup and give via a spoon or syringe.
Try a straw: If the supplement is particularly strong tasting, even when added to juice, then try giving it through a straw (cut the straw in half so less suck-power is needed to get the contents into the mouth). A covered plastic cup can mask any new smell or colour.
Three day intro: If your youngster is reluctant to take medicine off a spoon or a via a medicine syringe then start with giving the fruity liquid without the supplement for 3 days in a row, before adding in any supplements. Once your child is used to the puree on its own, then start adding in a pinch of the contents of a capsule or one drop of a liquid supplement. Build this up pinch by pinch or drop by drop until you reach the recommended dosage.
Tasteless ones first: Start with supplements with little to no taste. Probiotics for instance, usually come in powder form or powder within a capsule, which you can easily open up. Probiotics can be added to fruit puree, smoothies, milk, dairy-free milk, cereal or yoghurt very easily. Ideally probiotics are given without food but a teaspoon or two of fruit puree is not going to affect its health benefits that much. Liquid zinc is usually tasteless to those who are deficient, so it should be easy to add to water or juice.
Bake with them: Minerals such as calcium supplements are not broken down by the cooking process, so you can add calcium and magnesium powders to pancake mix, muffin recipes or porridge. This is the same for protein powders and amino acid blends. Never cook or heat probiotics, vitamins, anti-oxidants or essential fatty acids.
Banana ice-cream: Blend overripe then frozen bananas together with your child’s supplement in your blender or Nutribullet to make a yummy banana ice cream. Put these in ice cube trays, so that each cube is equal to one day of supplements. Freezing food supplements preserves their goodness.
A sweet spoonful: Make you own super-charged raw chocolate mousse by blending the vitamins in a raw cacao power, avocado, banana and honey. If you are in a rush try a teaspoon of sugar-free jam (think St Dalfour or Meridien), fruit powders, organic chocolate spread, maple syrup, or honey. These can be a magic way of hiding the stronger tasting supplements such as B vitamins. You can give the sweet tasting spoonful with the supplement, or as a “chaser” afterwards to take any nasty tastes away.
Home-made gummies: Make vitamin gummy “sweets” by combining Great Lakes gelatin powder with fruit juice and the supplement. Set them in cute silicon moulds and store in the fridge, or in the freezer if you are making these in large batches. This is a particularly good way of hiding liquid supplements and fish oils.
Frozen lollies: You can buy mini frozen lolly moulds. Once you have blended up some juice or fresh fruit with the supplements, freeze in the moulds and bring one out every day for your youngster to enjoy.
Prefers savoury?: If your child has a more savoury palate then mix the supplement into peanut butter, almond butter or cashew butter. You could also try hummus, mashed potato or pureed vegetables. Again give the mixture to them off a spoon or through a little resealable food pouch.