Tips for Giving Liquid Fish Oil to Toddlers

by Kate and Sam Wiley

Orange Burst is a great liquid Fish Oil product for small children who cannot swallow pills. It is an excellent source of EPA & DHA Omega-3s and contains vitamins A and D and also Astaxanthin, the same carotenoid antioxidant found in krill and salmon. It also tastes really, really great – not like fish at all. Although we have had parents report that their children eagerly take spoonful after spoonful, for most that’s not how it goes. For those of you with a picky or difficult toddler, getting them to regularly take a spoonful of fish oil can be a challenge. For more on why Omega-3s are important for children, see our Child Development article.

Ready to take her Orange Burst liquid Fish Oil!
Ready to take her Orange Burst Liquid Fish Oil!

In many cases, it probably has to do more with that it’s a spoonful of something they are ‘supposed to take’, instead of something that they want like candy or their favorite snack.With our 2 year old daughter, we found that it followed a fairly typical pattern of:

[panel]1. Novelty – The first few weeks we gave her liquid fish oil she was very compliant and interested in the new exciting food she was being offered.

2. Rejection – Then it stopped being new, and became drudgery. She refused for weeks. We let it go for awhile, not trying or offering anything at all.

3. Acceptance – Then we started offering it to her every night with her other vitamins. If she refused, we didn’t push it. It took a few weeks, but we finally established a regular routine! In fact, she looks forward to ‘Vitamin’ time (she used to say “Me-a-mins”)[/panel]

Daddy gives little Inga Wiley her Fish Oil
Daddy gives little Inga Wiley her Fish Oil

Here are some tips that we’ve learned from giving our little Wiley daughter liquid fish oil (and now Orange Burst!).

1. Make it Routine – Supplements are suppose to be taken daily so it is best to establish a routine. For us, vitamin time is right before bedtime. It is part of winding down from the day and getting ready for bed. Many other parents we know do vitamins in the morning after breakfast. Toddlers love routines so the big thing is to be consistent – 7 days a week! You are not going to be successful 2-3 nights a week.


2. Make it a Family Event – Get everyone involved in the daily routine. Our daughter won’t take a spoonful of Orange Burst until Mommy and Daddy each have a spoonful. Why eat some strange, new food if Mom and Dad won’t eat it too? I am not a big fan of liquid fish oils (the texture just throws me off), but I always take a spoonful so my daughter will take hers.


3. Make it Fun – Orange Burst time is quite a theatrical event these days in our house. We all make yummy noises while eating our spoonful and smack our lips in satisfaction. Other parents mix up the delivery by serving the oil with orange juice or using special spoons set aside just for fish oil and or using droppers. It works well mixed into yogurt, too.


4. Be Patient AND Be Persistent – This is really the most important piece of advice I can give. It will take time to develop the routine for the whole family. Small children are not usually very open to new foods, tastes, and textures. It took about 3 weeks before our daughter would regularly take Orange Burst. She still occasionally refuses it and we don’t push the issue. We just try again the next day during vitamin time. Don’t take no for an answer. Your child’s health is worth your persistence. Offer it every day at the same time, and get used to maybe 20-30 ‘No’s before you get a ‘yes’.


Finally some tips about the practical “nuts & bolts” of giving a toddler a spoonful of fish oil:

[list icon=”fa-angle-right” text=”Use a bib (if you can get them to wear one).”][list icon=”fa-angle-right” text=”Keep the amount of fish oil in the spoon small. That minimizes the cleanup from spills if the toddler flails their arms, spits out the fish oil, leaks oil out their mouth, or does any one of a million bits of mischief toddlers seem hardwired to do.”][list icon=”fa-angle-right” text=”Come armed with a damp washcloth or paper towel.”][list icon=”fa-angle-right” text=”Let your toddler have their own spoon. Even if they don’t use it, they will feel important having their own spoon to play with.”] [list icon=”fa-angle-right” text=”Don’t leave the uncapped bottle of fish oil within reach of your toddler! We’ve learned that the hard way.”]

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