Along with developing motor skills and temper tantrums, pickiness at the dinner table is one of the classic hallmarks your child has reached the toddler stage. When you're dealing with a child that will only eat a single food or wants to avoid eating altogether, it's very easy for a serious nutritional deficiency to sneak up on you. Keep a watchful eye out for these five early signs of nutritional deficiencies so you can see a pediatrician promptly for help.
Is your toddler starting to develop itchy patches of dry skin that look a lot like eczema? Before you jump to the conclusion that they're developing a lifelong health problem, take them to the doctor and ask for a test to determine if there is a Vitamin B2 deficiency behind the problem. A lack of B2 often causes dry skin that accelerates into the condition known as seborrhea. Unlike eczema, this kind of dermatitis is relatively short-lived and should clear up once you balance out your child's diet by adding toddler-friendly foods like almonds or almond butter, naturally made yogurt without too much added sugar, and turkey prepared in any way.
Keep on eye on your child's skin after they spend some time in the sun for a few days in a row. When you notice dark spots or patches appearing on the skin most exposed to the sun, it's hyperpigmentation that may indicate you are facing a lack of niacin. Also known as B3, a deficiency also causes a bright red color that resembles the results of a popsicle or candy binge. Take immediate measures to add B3 supplements or foods to your toddler's diet or they'll soon be struggling with serious neurological effects like anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Turkey, chicken, and peanuts are great sources of this vitamin, but if your toddler avoids meat, you may need the doctor to administer a vitamin shot or use oral vitamin drops for a few months.
Most parents are well aware that a lack of Vitamin C leads to bleeding gums, yet the usual techniques used for cleaning toddler teeth and gums rarely cause enough bleeding to be noticeable since flossing is tricky with a combative three-year old. Make sure you're paying close attention to the next brushing session and use a flashlight to spot the faintest signs of red emerging from the gums. Going to the pediatrician first is smart since a Vitamin C deficiency threatens both the growth rate and immune system of your child. If the doctor rules out nutritional issues, then you'll know for sure it's time to see a dentist instead. While oranges are the food most commonly associated with Vitamin C, potatoes and strawberries are also a surprisingly great source of it.
Toddlers usually have quite a fast healing rate, often losing signs of a bump or scratch just days after the initial injury. Are your toddlers little bruises and other injuries starting to linger a lot longer than usual? This could be a sign of a Vitamin A, Vitamin B-12, or Vitamin C deficiency, so it's definitely not a problem you can diagnose at home just by the symptoms. It's also a sign of other serious conditions that could affect your toddler's long-term health, so go in for a checkup anytime you notice wounds are healing more slowly without infection or another common complication. Vitamin A can be particularly tricky to get enough of because it's most concentrated in dark leafy greens toddlers often reject, but fortified cereal products are a good source.
Finally, remember that toddlers should have plenty of energy, even if they do have days when they'd rather nap on the floor or just lay around. When you can't get your child jumping around and dancing to the music with even their favorite toys and games, it might be time to do a full nutritional panel test to see what's missing. A lack of any of the B Vitamins can contribute to low energy levels, but you can't simply give a toddler a broad spectrum supplement since they're sensitive to overdoses of vitamins and minerals as well. Let your pediatrician determine what's needed and exactly how much, especially if your toddler refuses to eat meats, mushrooms, and yogurt, since these are some of the richest sources of all the B Vitamins.
For more information, consult a local pediatrics clinic.