Calcium is an important mineral that helps build strong and healthy bones. It also plays other roles in the body, such as helping the nerves and the heart.
Why Your Child needs calcium
Calcium is important for Your Child to build strong bones. Young children also need calcium and vitamin D to prevent rickets, a disease that softens the bones and causes bow legs, stunted growth, and in some cases, sore or weak muscles.
Sources of calcium
Foods that have high calcium content include milk, yogurt, and cheese. Other foods with good calcium content include oranges, figs, prunes, beans, chickpeas, almonds, and all kinds of seeds. Broccoli, kale, collard green, chard, Chinese cabbage, and other leafy greens are also high in calcium.
Most commercial foods and drinks for children, such as cereals, orange juice, and almond milk are fortified with calcium owing to their importance.
How much calcium does Your Child need?
- Babies less than 6 months old, should consume around 200 mg of calcium each day
- Babies between 6 – 11 months old need 260 mg of calcium a day
- Children 1 – 3 years old need around 700 mg of calcium a day
- Children 4 – 13 years old need around 1000 mg of calcium each day
- Teenagers need about 1,300 mg of calcium a day
Infants get most of their calcium from their mothers’ breast milk or baby formula. Older children should get most of their calcium from food. However, if that is not possible, talk to Your Child’s doctor about the right calcium supplement you can give Your Child.
How to help Your Child get enough calcium
- Continue breastfeeding or formula-feeding your child until they eat enough calcium-rich solid foods
- Serve plain sugar-free yogurt when they start eating solid food
- Serve more dark-green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, Chinese cabbage, and collard greens
- Serve edamame as a snack
- Top salads with sunflower seeds
- Add tofu to a stir-fry or fried rice
- Add sesame or chia seeds to your cooking
- Use almond butter instead of peanut butter
- Service plain yogurt, fruit, and whole-grain cereals for breakfast
- Make smoothies with fresh fruits and calcium-fortified almond milk
Do not give your baby cow’s milk or any other kind of milk until after their first birthday. Only breast milk and infant formula are recommended.
Vitamin D in foods
Our bodies need vitamin D to absorb calcium. Good natural sources of vitamin D include:
- Oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel
- Red meat
- Egg yolks
- Fortified foods, such as infant formula, breakfast cereals, oat milk, and other Vitamin D fortified foods and drinks
Note that health care providers might recommend taking vitamin D supplements if there’s an insufficient amount of vitamin D in the baby food or in breast milk.
Dr. Piyawut Kreetapirom, MD. (15 July 2021)