All About Calcium: Make Your Babies Strong & Hearty Day 2: All About Calcium

All About Calcium: Make Your Babies Strong & Hearty

Did you know that during infancy and childhood, your baby's calcium requirements are at their highest? It's important to provide adequate amounts of calcium at an early age to prevent risks like osteoporosis later in life.

As we grow older, we may notice that more women have calcium deficiencies in their adulthood. This could be because they didn't get enough calcium when they were young girls. Also, girls/women have higher requirements for calcium compared to men. Bones develop early in life, so if a child has a calcium deficiency, they have a higher chance of developing osteoporosis as they get older.

The good news is that you don't need to give your baby calcium supplements. Babies can get all the calcium they need from foods. So, make sure to include plenty of calcium-rich foods in your baby's diet, like dairy products, fortified cereals, and leafy green vegetables.

Why Do Babies Need Calcium?

  • It helps build strong bones and teeth
  • It supports muscle and nerve function
  • It plays a role in blood clotting
  • It aids in the absorption of other nutrients like Vitamin D and iron
  • It supports overall heart health
  • So, when it comes to your little baby’s body absorbing calcium, there are some factors that could inhibit proper absorption. Here’s a list:

    Vitamin D: Your baby needs vitamin D to absorb calcium properly. Make sure they're getting enough sunlight or talk to your pediatrician about vitamin D drops.

    Fiber: Too much fiber can interfere with calcium absorption, so it's important to balance your baby's fiber intake with enough calcium-rich foods.

    Phytates: Whole grains, nuts, and legumes contain phytates that can inhibit calcium absorption. Soaking, sprouting, or fermenting these foods can help reduce phytate content and increase calcium availability.

    Tannins: Tea can prevent proper absorption of calcium and other key nutrients for babies. So, it's best to avoid giving your little one chapati or bread dipped in tea.

    Top Food Sources of Calcium for Your Baby

    Both breast milk and/or formula milk provide all the calcium your baby needs for the first year!

    Baby-friendly, calcium-rich foods (that are also rich in protein) include:

    1. Cheddar cheese

    2. Ricotta cheese

    3. Cottage cheese

    4. Mozzarella cheese

    5. Yogurt or curd made from whole milk

    Foods that have a higher calcium absorbability include:

  • Fortified foods and beverages like whole grain cereal and whole wheat bread, non-dairy beverages such as soy and almond milk, calcium set tofu and tempeh, calcium fortified milk.
  • Amaranth grain, cream of wheat, ragi
  • Salmon and sardines
  • Veggies: cauliflower, sweet potato, peas, Chinese cabbage, kale, Brussel sprouts
  • Beans: red beans, pinto beans, mung beans, soya beans and white beans, horse gram
  • Fruits: Dried figs, oranges
  • Nuts & seeds: Almonds and almond butter, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds, chia seeds
  • It’s best to avoid uncooked or raw greens for your baby, as they contain calcium absorption-inhibiting factors (oxalates/phytates).

    Tip:

    Although cow’s milk products like full-fat yogurt, curd, cheese, and custard can be fed to babies, cow’s milk should not be given as a main beverage before they’re 1 year old.

    Tomorrow, get ready for our gut superheroes: “prebiotics” (fiber) and “probiotics” (friendly bacteria or good bugs).