Mother milk usually provides all the calcium that a baby needs during the first year of his/her development. But after he/she crosses the age of 1 year, it is very important to feed the baby with varied foods which will be rich in Calcium. Mothers should keep in mind that the calcium is absorbed in the baby’s body gradually and the diet should be planned in such a way that the intake is spread throughout the day, and not given all at once.
Benefits of Calcium
Calcium is considered to be one of the most important minerals found in food and it is needed by the body so that it will be able to maintain strong bones as well as to carry out many other important functions. Major quantity of calcium in our body is stored in our bones and teeth, supporting their structure and hardness.
Calcium is a mineral which is most needed for our muscles to move and for nerves to carry signals between the brain to every other body part. Also, calcium helps blood vessels to move blood throughout the body, and is essential to release hormones and enzymes which may affect almost every function in the human body.
Having an adequate amount of calcium gives an assurance that the blood in the body can clot properly and it also helps to tackle many bone-related issues and also prevents such issues in the future. In babies, Calcium is also believed to be vital to regulate the functions of a baby’s heart, to help the baby relax and contract muscles and for various enzymatic functions.
Getting more than enough quantity of calcium can prove to be fatal while your baby is passing through the stages of infancy to adulthood.
Excess calcium intake in the diet may cause digestive problems and kidney issues. Low calcium intake can cause bones to weaken over time, as the body has a process of removing calcium from the bones to maintain body strength.
As far as proper intake of calcium is concerned, Babies up to 6 months old require 200 mg of calcium every day, while from the age of 7 to 12 months, they require 260 mg and children from 1 to 3 years require 700 mg of calcium per day.
Calcium deficiency in the baby’s diet is very dangerous and can lead to a condition known as rickets. In this condition, baby’s bones become soft and weak and are prone to fractures. Rickets is most commonly found in babies between the ages of 6 and 24 months. Getting affected by this condition of rickets, the bones of the baby could get deformed.
Foods For Babies which are rich in Calcium
Below are given some rich sources of calcium that can fulfill the daily requirement of the babies.
- Dairy/Milk Products
Dairy products mainly include yoghurt, milk, cheese, cottage cheese, and butter and are considered to be an excellent source of calcium. Milk is considered to be one of the richest sources of calcium and people all around the globe include it as a staple part of their baby’s diet. If your baby is not fond of milk, you can try adding fresh fruits or other natural additives to make the milk tasty. Some babies are lactose intolerant and what their mothers can do is let them soya milk to ensure he/she gets their calcium needs fulfilled properly. Mothers should also check the label on the milk pack to know which brands will offer the best amount of calcium.
Cheese is yet another mind blowing source of calcium. Feeding your baby with cheese in their meals will help them gain the required amount of calcium their body needs. Yoghurt is also a rich source of Calcium and is better absorbed by the baby’s body.
- Green Veggies
Green leafy vegetables are the best and the most delicious sources of calcium which a baby is prone to like. Some of the calcium rich green vegetables are spinach, collard greens, kale, broccoli, mustard greens, broccoli, and turnip greens. Spinach and collard greens are the two vegetables which have the highest amount of calcium. However, mothers should not feed babies with more than a sufficient amount of vegetables and should consult a paediatrician.
- Peas especially black eyed peas
Black-eyed peas are considered to have high levels of dietary fibre, and minerals among which calcium is the most important. Feeding your babies with black eyes peas will help in improving the health of the entire body, especially the digestive tract. These help in regulating the levels of calcium in the body.
- Vitamin K rich – Okra
Okra or Lady’s finger comes in the category of green vegetables and is a finger-shaped vegetable which is rich in fibre, folate, and vitamin K. Okra helps in maintaining good heart health as well as strong bones and also protects against cancer. Many minerals are found in this food such as Calcium, Iron, niacin, phosphorus, and copper.
There are many other foods that are rich in calcium which include sardines, which can even be given to babies as a boiled and mashed option. Some juices or soya beverages also provide calcium to the baby’s body.
Tips to Include Right Amount of Calcium in Baby’s Diet–
Here are a few tips that can help moms add more calcium to your baby’s daily meals:
- Mothers should include different sources of calcium present in different foods for baby diet on a daily and regular basis. The baby’s body tends to make the most use of the calcium intake when it is eaten at different times throughout the day.
- Include calcium in the form of snacks for babies and instead of including too much calcium at once in a meal, try to spread the calcium content during different times in a day.
- Mothers should check with the pediatrician about how much calcium their babies must be given on a daily basis. They will make you follow a recommendation chart, and accordingly, the calcium needs of your baby will be fulfilled in the most complete manner.
- Mother has to make sure their little one gets an adequate amount of vitamin D in addition to calcium so that their bones will be able to absorb the calcium well from all sources. They should let their baby soak up some natural vitamin D from the sun by massaging them in open sun (preferably morning time when sun is less harsh).
Calcium is considered to be an extremely essential mineral for a baby’s overall development. Mothers should always try to add a healthy amount of calcium to their baby’s diet. You should start offering calcium-rich foods from the very childhood and that will benefit your child in future.
Many children who do not receive calcium in the right amount, especially when they are young, tend to develop problems such as bone weakness and other problems.