Doctor Betti
Dr. Betti Hertzberg Ressler is a Board Certified Pediatrician on staff at Miami Children's Hospital. Dr. Hertzberg developed the toilet training video "Let's Go Potty." She is the co-author of "The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies for Children."


Question: I recently spoke with my doctor about giving my 15 month old vitamins, since he has not put on any weight for a while now. I am not sure if he needs iron and zinc, my doctor was unclear as to whether he needed these or not. Are these important since he is no longer on formula and is refusing to eat cereal at this time? If so what minerals and vitamins are important for him at this stage in his development? Thanks for your time. - Barb

Answer: Vitamins and minerals are important in human nutrition at any age. Iron is needed to build and maintain red blood cells. It is needed to prevent anemia.

Zinc is another mineral that is very important for proper wound healing, healthy skin and resistance to infection. ALL vitamins and minerals have their role in maintaining health and should be supplemented if an inadequate diet is present.

Formula contains all essential vitamins and minerals needed for proper growth during baby's first year of life. Solid foods are usually introduced into the diet at around 4-6 months. As more and more solid food is eaten, less formula is taken. As your baby learns to enjoy solid foods, it is necessary to make sure there are a variety of the four major food groups (diary, meat, veggies and grains).

It might be a good idea to make a list of "everything" your child eats for about a week. You might be surprised that what you thought was not enough for a bird, actually has a little bit of everything!

It is unlikely that a toddler will actually sit down and eat three meals a day. They pick. And pick. And they actually pick the right things to eat. Given the opportunity. That's why it's so important to have a variety of nutritious foods available.

It's important to remember that during the first year of life, growth is very rapid. It slows down during the toddler years. Appetite slows down as well. Less food is needed to maintain growth. This is the time when I hear "my child doesn't eat enough to sustain a baby bird!"

Check out your child's growth chart to see how he's growing. Discuss your child's diet with his pediatrician. Show the sample diet that he's eating. From there, it would be easier to see if there is a possibility of any vitamin or mineral deficiencies in the diet.

There are also many informative books on childhood nutrition available. Bon appetit!

Dr. Betti

Also see:

  • Does Strep Throat lead to Scarlet's Fever?
  • Can a pediatrician comfortably prescribe and manage ADHD medication or is it better suited to a psychiatrist?
  • Ask Dr. Betti your questions

    This information is not intended to be a substitute for visiting your pediatrician. If you or your child has specific concerns, you should see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.