Does your baby get his required calcium through his food?
Which are the calcium rich foods for babies?
What is the recommended daily amount of calcium for babies and toddlers?
Which are the natural sources of calcium content and how to ensure efficient calcium absorption by the body?
Let us find answers to all these questions through this post.
Need for calcium rich diet in babies and toddlers:
Calcium is the most abundant mineral present in our body. Calcium is the most mentioned mineral in women and kids’ diet due to this.
Babies and toddlers require it equally or more than adults. Calcium is very essential for babies and toddlers because it helps in,
- Bone formation
Bones are still in the development phase in babies and as many of us know, calcium is an important component of the bones.
Your child must take foods rich in calcium for strong bones. It also helps in bone formation and changes in the bone structure during different stages of life like adolescence, adulthood etc.
- Strong teeth
About 99% of calcium present in the body can be found in teeth and bones alone. So it is required especially during the teething phase for healthy teeth formation.
It is not required to give the calcium tablets/ supplements until and unless recommended by your doctor as the calcium content in the food suffice the purpose.
- Other functions
Apart from these vital functions, calcium is also important for maintaining healthy muscles. In body metabolism it acts as activating agent for metabolic enzymes and helps in blood clot formation.
Taking adequate amounts of calcium since babyhood is very important. Calcium prevents the babies against the diseases like osteoporosis, kidney diseases and bone deformation (rickets) which occur due to deficiency of calcium and vitamin D which is essential for calcium absorption in the body.
Calcium requirement in different age groups:
According to recommendations by WHO, calcium is required in following amounts at different age groups.
- 0 to 6 months – 300 mg/day
- 7 to 12 months – 450 mg/day
- 1 to 3 years – 500 mg/day
- 4 to 6 years – 550 mg/day
- 7 to 9 years – 700 mg/day
- 9 to 18 years – 1000 mg/day
11 Calcium rich foods for babies, toddlers and kids:
Note: For the babies below 7 months, only breast milk/ formula milk provides sufficient amount of calcium according to their age. The given diet is only to be followed for babies above 7 months.
Include these high calcium foods to your babies and toddlers’ diet.
#1. Dairy products
Milk, cheese, yogurt serve as the good calcium source. Make sure to serve at least one serving to your babies with dairy foods. For kids who are lactose intolerant, non-dairy foods high in calcium should be given.
- How and when to introduce cow’s milk for your baby?
- Why cow’s milk is not recommended for babies, but cheese and butter is ok?
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- Gopalkala recipe
We include many vegetables in our babies’ diet. Including vegetables with high calcium content help in fulfilling toddlers’ needs of calcium, in addition to that fibers and other minerals also.
The vegetables with high calcium content are spinach, okra, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and beans.
You can also read about the tricks and tips to make your kiddo eat more greens and veggies.
#3. Fortified soy milk
Calcium fortified soymilk is also a very good calcium source. It is also rich in protein and vitamin D, which helps in easy absorption of calcium. It is also a good substitute to cow milk if your baby is lactose intolerant.
Lentils or pulses like soya bean, kidney beans, peas, chick peas are all good sources of calcium.
You can refer to the chickpeas chat you can make for your kid.
#5. Orange and Calcium fortified orange juice
This is yet another source of calcium. Kids who do not like the taste of soy milk can be given orange juice. Apart from Calcium, oranges are also rich in Vitamin C.
You may include cereals rich in your baby’s diet for one serving a day. Brown rice, ragi etc are high in calcium.
Nuts like almonds are rich in calcium. You may give almond to your babies in powder form mixed in their food/ milk or even make some yummy thandai. Or you can make almond powder at home and mix it in your kids milk or porridge.
Tofu prepared in a calcium based salt like calcium sulphate is rich in calcium.
#9. Sesame seeds
Surprised? Sesame seeds can be added to child’s diet by making some yummy sesame rice or even a sesame seed laddu.
For older kids who take non-vegetarian food, you can give them fishes like Indian anchovies, salmon, sardines etc.
Eggs are yet another super-food that you can introduce in your babies diet. Start giving eggs only after you check with your child’s pediatrician.
Factors for effective and easy calcium absorption:
Calcium can be absorbed by the body only if there is adequate vitamin D. Thus it becomes significant to also include vitamin D in your kids’ diet. Wondering if your child is getting enough Vitamin D?
- Must read: Is your little one getting enough Vitamin D?
Vitamin D sources for babies and kids:
- Sunlight converts cholesterol in vitamin D and forms adequate proportion of vitamin D in body. Expose your babies/ kids only to the early morning sunlight.
- Fish is also rich in vitamin D. They also fulfill your babies’ protein requirements and provide good cholesterol.
- Other good source of vitamin D is egg yolk.
In addition to provide vitamin D food supplements, also ensure that you give calcium rich diet in small quantities at a time for easy absorption of the mineral.
Higher intake of calcium has been known to cause kidney stones, but natural sources help lower the risk. So make sure that you do not go overboard while consuming calcium fortified products.
Tips to increase calcium intake in your kids’ diet:
- While offering their favorite fruits to kids, make smoothies in yogurt.
- Mix the calcium rich food with their favorite food items. For example, make porridges with milk for kids who do not like milk or make a soup like the broccoli cheese soup/mash.
You can also check out a very tasty and yet nutritious recipe for Homemade sprouted ragi flour porridge.
- Serve their food sprinkled with grated cheese and cottage cheese, this would also attract them towards your presentation and add up to their calcium intake. Try out the cheese paneer paratha.
- You may also try turning calcium rich fruits and veggies into kid’s favorite lollipops by pureeing and freezing them.
Now you know the benefits of calcium and calcium rich foods for babies. So don’t forget to add foods rich in calcium and vitamin D to your child’s diet.
How do you ensure that your child gets his /her daily recommended dose of calcium? Let us know in the comments.
You can also read the 31 iron rich foods for babies, toddlers and kids.