Child growth is mandatory for the baby to be healthy and strong. When it comes to growth, vitamins, minerals, calcium, iron, and many more different nutrient combinations are needed. Among all of these, calcium is one of the most important nutrient factors that the baby should possess for having strong bones and teeth.
Today, we have invited Nutritionist Jeevitha Prabhu to share some insights on the importance of calcium for kids and their growing bones and teeth. Jeevitha Prabhu is a certified Nutritionist cum Dietician, who has worked for more nutritional and fitness-related companies for 2+ years. She has transformed over 400+ clients regarding health and fitness issues.
The main factor in knowing which you are giving calcium-rich foods is that, only when the baby has an adequate amount of Vitamin D, the absorption of calcium in the body will be better.
There are quite a lot of calcium-rich foods for babies, but it is important to choose the right ones and give them in the right way so that they do not have negative effects on the babies.
Why is Calcium Important for Kids:
The most important role of calcium especially in kids is to grow and build strong bones and teeth. The more calcium-rich foods they consume, the stronger their bones will be!
Benefits of Calcium for Kids
- Improve nerve function – Calcium helps in initiating and regulating the central nervous tissues. (1)
- Helps in maintaining kids’ teeth growth – Calcium intake helps in making the enamel – the outer shell of the teeth, stronger against the cavities.
- Prevents diseases – A healthy and recommended dose of calcium helps in getting rid of diseases like osteoporosis (which is nothing but weak bones).
- Better heart functioning – Calcium particles will enter the muscle cells in the heart during every heartbeat function. It helps in making the heart pump blood better.
If you are a mom who breastfeeds for formula feeds for any reason, make sure that the calcium level is at the right point. A study has proved that kids who are drinking formula milk have lower calcium levels compared to babies who have breast milk. If you are not accurate about the level of calcium needed for your kid, here is a simple list that will help you.
Recommended Calcium Intake Level in Babies:
- Babies from 0 to 6 months will require 200 mg of calcium per day.
- Babies from 7 to 12 months require 250 – 260 mg of calcium every single day.
Even though cows’ milk gives you a huge amount of calcium, it is not recommended to give it to babies below 1 year. This is because cow’s milk is quite hard to digest because of the budding parts of the body. Once your baby has crossed its 6 months, here are some of the foods high in calcium that you can start for building their calcium levels better.
Role of Vitamin D in Calcium Absorption:
- One of the biggest drawbacks in calcium absorption is that the Vitamin D levels should be optimal.
- The main role of Vitamin D is to stimulate the calcium intake in the body.
- The right amount of vitamin D should be present in the body so that the body increases calcium absorption.
- When the vitamin D level is not adequate, 10% – 15% of calcium will not be absorbed!
Calcium-rich Foods for Babies under 1 year for stronger Bones
Here is a list of easily available calcium-rich foods that you can give to your baby.
One of the safest nuts which will add nutritional value to the baby’s growth. Always make sure that the moms also have them for better strength to manage the little one. Almonds are not only rich in calcium content but also helps in boosting immunity level and healthy weight gain.
Almond Puree Recipe: You can soak one to two of them overnight, grind them with a little amount of breast milk or formula milk and give them to babies.
Healthy Almond Powder Mix Recipe: You can make the almonds in the form of powder, and add them to their vegetable or kanji.
Since paneer is a source of milk products, tofu is the best alternative for calcium-rich products. You can replicate all the paneer recipes with the tofu recipes.
Tofu Cutlets Recipe: If your kid is a fancy eater, add pepper, jeera, and a pinch of chili powder, according to your kid’s spicy tolerance. Make it in the form of a tikka and place it on the Tawa. Roast all sides, and serve them.
Tofu Soup / Tofu Stew Recipe: Add veggies like carrots, beans, beetroot, and a few cubes of tofu, and make them boil so that you get a veggie stock. Serve them as a tofu veggie pure, and your kids would love them for sure.
A super-fruit that has the maximum source of nutrients. This can be started even when the baby is 6 months old so that the baby absorbs all the nutritional benefits. You can serve anyone – fresh fruit or dry. Both are easily available; Your little one can get about 15 mg of calcium in about 1 fig.
Fig Puree Recipe: You can soak the fig overnight in hot or warm water. Grind them in a mixer, and filter them for the baby to have them in puree form.
Fig + (AnyFruit) Puree Recipe: If your kid doesn’t prefer this taste, you can combine it with apple puree. The Fig-Apple puree will surely impress them.
In most Indian homes, all our mothers and grandmothers will prefer ragi as the first food once the baby has crossed 6 months. Most famous and preferred baby food option. You can sprout them and smash them, and give them in the form of grinded yet sprouted ragi food. Not just in calcium, they are a rich source of Iron too. Sprouted ragi contain about 20%, which is super high.
Ragi Powder Recipe: Take a bowl of ragi, wash them, fill them with water overnight and allow them to soak. The next day you can filter the ragi from water, and pack them tightly in a cotton cloth. When you can then the next day, the ragi will have sprouted.
Now transfer in a plate and sundry for 2 days maximum. Then dry roast them and make them in the form of powder.
Now you can use the ragi powder in idli, dosa, uttapam, pancakes, etc. A super rich ragi to your diet.
One of the best forms of calcium source that most of us are aware of. It is normal for kids to not like spinach. But giving them in different forms will make sure that they will like them. About a cup of spinach leaves will have about 200 – 220 mg of calcium.
Spinach Dosa Recipe: Wash the spinach well, and boil well until they become half in size, Now make them in the form of puree, and to your idli or dosa batter.
Spinach Soup Recipe: Have any veggie mix stock, which will make this Spinach Soup process easier. In a pressure cooker, add a spoonful of ghee, and a few finely chopped onion pieces. Now add a pinch of ginger-garlic paste, based on the spicy level. Once the raw smell has vanished, add a handful of spinach leaves. Now add a few masalas like nutmeg powder, pepper, cumin, and turmeric powder. Add half a glass of water, and allow them to boil. Close the cooker, and allow 2 – 3 whistles. Now grind, and serve the green soup.
Millets are also one of the best sources of calcium. Since millets also can be easily digested, they can easily be served for kids from 6 months. Not just in Calcium, they are rich in different nutrients.
Millet Pancakes Recipe: You can sprout them, and then make it in the form of powder to make pancakes.
Millet Khichdi Recipe: Millet Khichdi is also one of the common foods among kids. Make sure to use a variety of veggies in the khichdi, for better nutrient and vitamin absorption in babies.
7. Dals – Pulses & Lentils:
Like Ragi, Pulses and Lentils are also one of the best forms of nutrient-rich foods. They help in making the baby’s protein, iron, and calcium levels to a good extent. Almost all kinds of pulses can be given to babies from 6 months.
Dal Rice Recipe: Add a small cup of any pulses of lentils, a tablespoon of ghee, and pepper. Pressure cook them for 2 to 3 whistles. Now add them richly, grind or mash them with your hands. Now you can serve them with the help of a spoon.
One of the super-rich vegetables that is tastier and at the same time easy to cook. It is one of the rich sources of calcium which is as much as the level the spinach gives them.
Broccoli Puree Recipe: Wash the broccoli florets, add half a glass of water, and pressure cook for 1 – 2 whistles. Now grind them in the form of paste in a mixer grinder. Then transfer to a bowl, add a pinch of pepper, and boil for 2 – 3 minutes, and serve them at a warmer temperature.
If your kid is about 10-12 months old, you can make them self-feed too.
Broccoli Bites Recipe: If your baby is looking for toothsticks, you can even steam the washed broccoli leaflets, and serve them plain.
9. Sesame Seeds:
The seeds are also one of the rich forms of calcium content. You can even make them in the form of energy bites if the tooth develops. Otherwise you can give them almond paste to get their rich benefits for health. You can add in the powder form in their soups or porridges.
10. Sweet Potato:
A superfood is suggested for babies since they are also one of the superfoods that are rich in calcium content. Since babies are new to these solid foods, it is normal for them to get constipated because of the slow digestion process. In that case, giving them steame
11. Cottage cheese:
This can be included for babies who have crossed 6 months. It’s a healthy source of protein and calcium that helps in baby growth better. You can add these cheese recipes to most of your kid’s diet after cooking their snack or dinner options. This is also one of the finger foods that can be added to the kid’s snack options at times.
Eggs are one of the most healthy sources of food, which help in making the kids get the required source of calcium and protein. This is one of the most favourite foods for every kid if they have tasted it once. Eggs are also one of the best foods to start solids in kids.
Recipe 1: You can just separate the white of the egg in the dressing pan, and mix it well. Let them get well cooked so that it makes kids’ digestion better.
You can also give in the form of an omelette if they do some kind of biting. Make sure to avoid yolk initially, since it might be harder for kids to digest.
This is one common food that we think about when talking about foods that have calcium. There are many parents who start giving non-vegetarians in the initial stages of starting solids. If you are one among them, fish are one of the best sources of calcium. Rather than frying them, you can give soft pieces without any bones.
It is important to carefully give fish since the baby’s throat seems to be so tender and it might hurt them for sure. Some of the safe, kids-friendly fishes are salmon, sardines, and more. Make sure to include varieties so that the babies don’t get bored.
14. Green Peas:
What is the one thing that we miss thinking about calcium-rich fruits and vegetables? It’s none other than green peas. One of the most catchy dishes that kids will love to explore and experience while eating. Wondering about the chokiness? Never worry, you can boil and mask them before giving them to babies so that they are not choking.
Greenpeas-Potato Tikki: Take a handful of green peas and soak them overnight. Then add the soaked green peas to a pressure cooker and let it sit for 4 – 6 whistles. Now put the green peas in a pulse mode so that they are even smaller and softer for the kids. Now add the green peas with boiled and mashed potato. Add very little amount of masalas like pepper powder, chilli/sambar powder, and a little salt if needed. Now shape it in the form of tikki’s and shallow fry them. This is going to be their super tasty food, and the kids will love it for sure.
15. Brazil Nuts:
This is one of the healthy doses of snacks that can be given to the kids but in a minimum quantity. Sometimes it might be hard for the kids to eat or in the process of digestion. In that case, you can add these nuts to your nut powder.
The powder can be used in kids’ snacks, pancakes, or even in their shakes at times to get the maximum amount of benefits in a small amount. A rich source of calcium has been found in the nuts and seeds varieties.
Now, we know how important is calcium intake in food meals or food plans. Try to add the above calcium-rich foods to your kid’s meals. They will make their meal time healthy, and nutritious, and at times add a lot of variety to it.
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