MS, RD, LDN, CSSD, CBS
Rachel holds a Master’s in Nutrition Communication from Tufts University and is also a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. She works as a nutrition and wellness coach with focuses on infant and maternal nutrition, and mindful eating.
While calcium is mostly known for its role in keeping our bones and teeth strong, it also helps with several other bodily functions, including:
Needless to say, getting enough calcium is critical from infancy through adulthood. In fact, prolonged low calcium intake in the diet may cause bones to weaken over time, as the body removes calcium from the bones to maintain levels throughout the body.
infant nutrition isn't easy. We can help.
Below are the calcium requirements for infants and children:
Breastmilk and infant formula usually provide all the calcium needed for babies through the first year of life.
It is also important to feed your baby or toddler a varied diet including foods rich in calcium once they start solids. One fact to keep in mind as you plan your and your children’s diet is that the body absorbs calcium best when intake is spread throughout the day, and not eaten all at once.
While most people link calcium with dairy, there are many other sources to include in the diet. Getting a variety of calcium-rich foods can also expand the amount of nutrients consumed. For example, plant foods high in calcium, such as greens, beans, and nuts, are also high in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, such as powerful – antioxidants. Dairy foods high in calcium are also typically high in protein and fat, both of which are also important for your baby. By feeding your baby or toddler a healthy and varied diet full of whole foods, you will succeed in providing him with the calcium he needs along with many other nutrients.
Below are some foods that can help meet calcium needs. Be sure to only provide foods and food textures that are appropriate for your child’s age and stage:
Certain substances like oxalic acid (found in raw spinach, chard and beet greens) and wheat bran inhibit calcium absorption to some degree. But know that their nutrient benefits (high levels of folic acid, potassium, magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin C, carotenes, and lutein) far outweigh their impact on calcium absorption.
Provide a variety of calcium-rich foods to your baby or toddler. Make sure you provide foods and textures that are appropriate for your baby’s age and oral motor skills.
Here’s a cheat sheet of foods with amounts of calcium by serving:
*no cow’s milk for babies under 1 year
**All calcium amounts are approximate
The goal is to introduce several different food sources throughout the day to help build their taste preferences and to aim for a good calcium intake average over the week.
Follow the recommended amount of calcium for your baby or toddler’s age
And don’t go overboard! Too much calcium-rich foods can displace other nutrients
Promote calcium intake through foods for all family members starting early on
Steadily offering calcium-rich foods, starting when your child is a baby, will benefit them as they age. Many children do not receive enough calcium, especially when they reach adolescence, so including these foods from the beginning will help them develop a taste preference for them.
Calcium. National Institutes of Health. Date accessed 2 Mar. 2017.