Fish oil is found in fish like sardines and tuna, as well as in supplements that come in liquid, capsule and tablet form. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids necessary for brain growth and development. The human body cannot make omega-3 fatty acids and they must be ingested from food or supplements. Although research regarding fish oil and speech development is lacking, there are some indications that taking fish oil may help your toddler’s development.
Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain. They are important for brain function and may be effective for improving thinking skills. According to Special Kids Today, fish oil may improve language skills and eye contact in children with apraxia of speech, which is characterized by difficulty planning and producing the movements needed for speaking. Although there is no substitute for speech therapy, your child’s doctor may recommend combining fish oil supplements with therapy.
Fish oil supplements may also be combined with vitamins and minerals that can help improve your toddler’s developmental skills. Some supplements have added calcium, iron and vitamins A, C, D, B6 and B12. In some cases, deficiencies of these vitamins can cause learning, developmental and speech problems.
Fish contains levels of mercury, and too much mercury can actually harm your toddler’s development. Avoid offering high-mercury fish like tilefish and shark, and serve low-mercury fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna just one to two times a week. If your toddler takes fish oil supplements, you may notice side effects like belching, bad breath, nausea, rash and loose stools. Taking supplements with meals may decrease the negative side effects.
The University of Maryland Medical Center states that there is no established dose of fish oil for children. Too much can result in lowered immunity and can keep blood from clotting. If you think that your toddler may benefit from taking fish oil supplements, talk to her doctor and follow all of the doctor’s dosing instructions.