Written by Aparna Hari
Calcium is one of the vital minerals required to aid in many crucial body functions. Without the need for supplements, one can meet the calcium requirement through food. Calcium requirements differ according to age. However, babies and toddlers are the ones who may need it the most, as it will help in strong bone formation. That being said, we will now dive into the article to know more about calcium for babies, its sources, and its benefits.
While cow milk is one of the best and universally known sources of calcium, giving milk to babies below one year of age is not advisable since babies cannot digest milk so early in life. Instead, you can depend on many plant-based sources. For this reason, it is important to gradually expose your baby to a variety of food groups once they are ready for solids.
In This Article
Calcium is an essential mineral that plays a role in building strong bones and teeth in babies. This mineral is generally found in the regular foods that we intake. Apart fro, bone formation and development, it also aids in proper muscle contractions, plays a role in neurological health, and regulates blood pressure.
Once ready for solids, babies must get their portion of calcium through the food. Although cow milk is a good source of calcium, it must not be given to babies who are less than a year old. Many foods, besides dairy products, also act as a source of calcium necessary for their growing body.
From infancy to childhood till teens and adulthood, the body requires all the essential minerals in the right portions for their better development. Calcium is one such mineral that aids in many vital developments of the body. Babies in the womb start to absorb calcium from the mother, and that is why pregnant women may require calcium supplements.
The right amount of calcium intake during pregnancy can also reduce the risk of preeclampsia (high blood pressure) among pregnant women which is the primary cause of premature births. Post birth, babies need calcium for their bone and teeth development, and to avoid skeletal deformities like rickets and softened bones. Calcium contributes to many other vital functions like nerve stimulation, and blood pressure regulation in the body.
If you are looking for some sources for calcium for you baby, here are some food groups you should include their diet.
The age-appropriate requirement of calcium is given in the below table
|Age||Amount of calcium required|
|Babies from 0- 6 months||200 mg per day|
|Babies from 7-12 months||260 mg per day|
|Kids from 1-3 years||700 mg per day|
|Kids from 4-8 years||1000 mg per day|
Babies from 0-12 months of age must get enough calcium from their breast or formula milk. However, you can start giving calcium-rich foods once they are ready for solids but never replace them with other milk substitutes.
If the body doesn’t get enough calcium, it tends to withdraw the mineral from the bones leading to deformities.
Reduced amounts of calcium in the body can lead to rickets and stunted growth in children.
In the long run, this may result in osteoporosis (pores in the bones due to the lack of calcium), blood clotting issues, and other issues like muscle aches.
Once your child is ready for solids, start calcium-rich foods as early as possible. This way, you can make sure that your child is getting enough calcium. However, do not rely on dairy products, and you can also choose one or two of the many foods rich in calcium. Include almond paste in vegetable smoothies and soups. It supplies calcium to their body and adds taste to the smoothie. Ensure to include vitamin D-rich foods as it is the main element required for calcium absorption into the body.
Try to include these foods into your baby’s solid diet. It will help your little one gain enough calcium required for their healthy growth.
Milk products are a rich source of calcium. However, replacing breastmilk is not suggestible for babies younger than a year. You can always try to include yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese (paneer) in their diet once they are on solids. Ensure to give them in small portions as not all infants will be tolerant of milk products. Introducing cow’s and buffalo’s milk is ideal if the baby is a year and older.
Almonds are rich in calcium. Include almonds in their cereal meal once your baby is out from choking hazards. You can also introduce them to almond paste once you rule out dry fruit allergies.
Spinach is well-packed nutrition for kids and adults and a great source of calcium. You can introduce spinach soup to your baby once they are ready for solids. Ensure to blanch spinach as it will be harder to digest for babies in its raw form. You can try different recipes using amaranth (Rajgira) leaves.
Broccoli is one of the great sources of calcium. Including broccoli in your baby’s diet can help them attain the required calcium for their growing body.
Dry fruits like dried figs and dates are some great sources of calcium. You can serve it as a snack to your toddler once they are ready to chew and swallow.
Ragi is one of the great foods that comes with many benefits. It also serves as a great source of calcium. You can add Ragi (finger millet) into your little one’s diet at a very early age like around 6-7 months. Ragi porridge can be the best first solid food that a baby can start with.
Beans like chickpeas and kidney beans are good sources of calcium. Ensure to include them in your toddler’s diet to meet the calcium requirements.
Seeds like chia seeds and sesame seeds are a good source of calcium. You can make sesame seed laddoos for your little ones, while it contains a lot of nutrition along with calcium.
Green peas are another rich source of calcium. Include them in your baby’s diet in the form of soup, and boiled green peas become soft and can be added to a variety of rice items once your baby is 36 months and older.
Soy milk can be a substitute for kids who are lactose intolerant. Almost all soy products like soybeans, tofu, cheese, and milk made from soy are the best sources of calcium.
The amount of calcium in each food per serving is given in the table below.
|Food||Amount of calcium per 100 gm|
|Yogurt (whole milk)||121 mg per 100 gm|
|Cows milk||125 mg per 100 ml|
|Cooked spinach (soup)||73 mg per 100 gm|
|Chia seeds||667 mg per 100 gm|
|Dried fig||162 mg per 100 gm|
|Cottage cheese (paneer)||70 mg per 100 gm|
|Sesame seeds||60 mg per 100 gm|
|Almonds (unsalted)||260 mg per 100 gm|
|Green peas (raw)||25 mg per 100 gm|
|Amaranth leaves (raw)||215 mg per 100 gm|
|Broccoli (raw)||47 mg per 100 gm|
|Coconut milk||188 mg per 100 gm|
|Orange||40 mg per 100 gm|
There are numerous recipes with calcium-rich foods that you can try for your baby. We have listed a few here.
Broccoli is a good source of calcium. Including broccoli in your baby’s diet can help them attain the daily need for calcium. You can just boil the broccoli and blend it after cooling down. Add a pinch of pepper powder and serve.
While soups are the best smoothies for babies, you can try your hands on spinach. This can be a package of nutrition for your little one. Spinach provides calcium and iron that are essential for the baby’s growth.
Laddoos are kids’ favorite. Blend sesame seeds with jaggery and bind them into your desired shape. Serve this as a snack to your toddler.
A few foods come as a wholesome nutrition package for your little one. Ragi or finger millet is one of them. It will serve as a great source of calcium for your little one. Make a porridge, and you can always mix it with fresh yogurt.
Calcium for babies is an essential mineral required to build strong bones and muscles. It is important to remember that a baby’s body is growing, and it needs balanced nutrition for healthy growth. By providing a balanced diet once the baby starts on solids, you can ensure that your baby is getting enough calcium supply.
Many foods, especially dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese are rich sources of calcium. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, amaranth, and other vegetables like broccoli, and green peas are the best sources of calcium for babies.
Include calcium-rich foods in their diet. Ensure not to stuff them with only calcium-based foods as other nutrients are also essential and are required for calcium absorption into their bodies. However, dairy products like cow’s milk and buffalo milk must only be given once the baby turns a year old.
Oranges and papaya are rich in calcium. They contain 40 mg and 20 mg calcium per 100 gm serving respectively.
Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.Read more.
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