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Calcium is an essential mineral for your child’s health.
It’s especially important for the development of strong bones, heart rhythm and muscle function.
To make sure your kids get enough calcium, serve them healthy proteins, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables that are rich in calcium. Add calcium-rich foods to meals and snacks.
Keep track of the calcium and other nutrients your child is consuming to make sure they’re getting a healthy diet.
Identifying Healthy Calcium-Rich Foods
Provide healthy dairy options.
Calcium is found in a variety of dairy products, so incorporating healthy dairy into your child’s diet can help them get enough calcium.
Go for plain yogurts, cheeses, and milk.
Children age 2-3 should have 2 cups of dairy per day, while children 4-8 should have 2 ½ cups per day.
Children between 9 and 18 should have 3 cups of dairy per day.
If your child is lactose intolerant, focus on getting calcium from other sources.
However, lactose intolerant children may be able to tolerate small amounts of milk and yogurt when they’re mixed with other foods like cereals.
Buy single-ingredient foods
When your baby first starts on solids, you should give her single-ingredient meals at first while slowly introducing new foods.
These foods are easier to digest. Also, if she has an allergic reaction, you will have a better idea what caused it.
Start with one food and follow the “four-day wait rule.” In other words, wait about four days between the introduction of new foods.
Say, for example, that you introduced your baby to pureed carrots on Monday. Continue giving her carrots through Thursday and then, on Friday, add a new food like pureed apples.
Fruits and vegetables
Find calcium-rich fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables should be a staple of every healthy diet.
Calcium is found in a variety of fruits and vegetables.
To up your child’s calcium intake, include the following fruits and veggies in their diet:
- Collard greens
- Bok choy
Opt for cereals with calcium.
If you serve your child cereal for breakfast in the morning, look for calcium-rich options.
Opt for brands of cereal fortified with calcium. This is a quick, easy, and healthy way to add calcium to your child’s diet.
Make sure to read a cereal’s nutritional label prior to purchase.
Cereals, especially children’s cereals, are sometimes high in added sugar.
Pick a calcium-fortified cereal without a lot of sugar.
Serve healthy proteins that contain calcium.
Sources of protein often contain calcium as well.
Go for lean meats, beans, and nuts for healthy sources of calcium from protein.
Choose some of the following for your child
- White beans
- Tofu fortified with calcium
Provide calcium-fortified beverages at breakfast.
Many kids love drinking juices like orange juice for breakfast.
At the supermarket, choose calcium-fortified juices.
This is an easy way to get more calcium in your child’s diet.
Make sure the juices you choose are made without added sugar.
While calcium-fortified juice is healthy in small doses, limit their consumption to 4-6 ounces per day.
Juice has a lot of sugar and does not contain the same nutrients as whole fruit.
Buy calcium fortified foods.
When choosing foods at the supermarket, go for foods marked “calcium fortified.”
Cereals, bread, tofu, and other products are often fortified with calcium.
If you’re going to be serving something like bagels for breakfast anyway, grabbing calcium-fortified bagels is a great way to up your child’s calcium intake without a lot of extra hassle.
Add milk and yogurt to meals.
Add milk and yogurt to meals.
Add yogurt and milk to your child’s meals to up their calcium intake.
You can add yogurt and milk to smoothies, sauces, batters, and fruit salads to up your child’s calcium intake.
Make sure to opt for plain yogurt.
Flavored yogurt often has a lot of extra sugar.
Serve calcium-rich snacks.
When serving your child snacks, make sure they’re packed with calcium.
Give your kids things like crackers with cheese or fruit mixed with plain yogurt.
Use cottage cheese or hummus as a dip for vegetables like carrots and celery.
Add calcium-rich beans to foods.
Beans, especially white beans, are often rich in calcium.
Add white beans to soups or top salad with white beans or chickpeas.
Beans can be used as a staple for a meal instead of meat.
Try making a vegetarian meal once a week using beans for added calcium intake.
You could, for example, serve vegetarian chili made with beans.
Figure out how much calcium your kids need.
Calcium is important to your child’s diet.
However, you do not want your kids to get too much calcium.
Make sure you track your child’s overall calcium intake and feed them the right amount based on their age.
Between the ages of one and three, children need 700 milligrams of calcium per day.
Between four and eight, children need 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day.
Between 9 and 18, children need 1,300 milligrams of calcium per day.
Use milk wisely
Milk can be a good source of calcium, but it is not the right choice for all children.
If you want to give your kids milk as a source of calcium, wait until they’re at least one year old.
Children between one and two should only drink whole milk and you should limit the intake to 16 ounces per day. After the age of two, make the switch to low-fat or skim milk.
While milk is the best-known source of calcium, it is by far from the only source.
If your child dislikes milk or is lactose intolerant, you can get enough calcium from other sources.
Talk to your doctor about calcium supplements.
Calcium supplements can help if your child is not getting adequate calcium from their diet.
You should talk to your doctor before putting your child on any supplement, however.
If you’re concerned about your child’s calcium intake, make an appointment with a doctor to talk about supplements.
Make sure your kids also get vitamin D.
Vitamin D, which comes from sunlight, helps the body absorb calcium.
Encourage your children to play outside each day.
When your children are playing in sunlight, make sure they wear sunscreen.