A parent’s job is to ensure that your baby is getting all the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development.
There are a variety of important nutrients your baby needs to be the healthiest they can be in their first year of life and beyond. For example, some of the most important nutrients for your baby include protein, iron, fat, Vitamins A, B, C and E, and calcium.
Calcium is a perfect example of a nutrient that plays a crucial role in babies’ development, with its main benefit being its role in building strong bones and teeth.
This guide will help teach parents the importance of calcium in your baby's diet and provide scientific examples to support our findings.
Why Calcium is Important for Your Baby:
Considering how much your baby grows in their first years of life, they need essential nutrients like calcium to aid in this massive growth. Calcium is an essential mineral that is required for a variety of bodily functions, including the development of strong bones and teeth. During the first year of life, your baby's bones are growing quickly, and it's important to provide them with the essential nutrients to support this growth. (1) Calcium also plays a role in muscle function, nerve transmission, and blood clotting.
How Much Calcium Your Baby Needs:
While we know all babies can benefit from calcium, the amount of calcium your baby needs depend on their age. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants from 0 to 6 months need 200 mg of calcium per day, while babies from 6 to 12 months need 260 mg of calcium per day. (2) Breast milk and infant formula are excellent sources of calcium for your baby. As your baby begins to eat solid foods and consumes less breast milk or formula, it's important to include calcium-rich foods in their diet.
Calcium-Rich Foods for Your Baby:
There are many calcium-rich foods that you can include in your baby's diet. Below are some great examples of foods high in calcium.
Yogurt: Plain, unsweetened yogurt is an excellent source of calcium and probiotics. Yogurt is an easy snack or addition to meals that offers a variety of benefits, including boosting baby’s immune health.
Cheese: Cheese is a great source of calcium and can be added to purees or finger foods. Most adults love cheese, so it’s comforting to know serving cheese to our babies can be beneficial to their health.
Leafy Greens: Dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach, and collard greens are rich in calcium and can be added to purees or cooked and served as finger foods. Most babies won’t like the taste of leafy greens right away, so sneaking them in puree baby food or baby food pouches is the perfect way to incorporate them into your baby’s diet.
Tofu: Tofu is a great source of calcium and can be added to purees or cooked and served as finger foods. If your baby doesn’t like tofu right away, don’t get discouraged. It can take up to 15 times for a baby to be exposed to food to figure out if they like it.
Scientific Evidence on Calcium for Babies:
Several scientific studies have studied the benefits of calcium for babies. A study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research solidified calcium’s role in bone health and discovered that calcium intake during infancy is positively associated with bone mass during childhood and adolescence. (3) Another study found that calcium supplementation during infancy can increase bone mineral density in premature infants. (4)
Furthermore, a study published in the journal Pediatric Research suggests that calcium supplementation during infancy may also have long-term health benefits, such as lowering the risk of osteoporosis in later life. (5) This underscores the importance of ensuring sufficient calcium intake during the critical stages of bone development in infancy and childhood.
It's important to note that calcium absorption is influenced by several factors, including vitamin D and phosphorus intake. (6) Therefore, it's important to make sure that your baby is getting enough of these important nutrients as well. Vitamin D can be obtained through sunlight exposure, breast milk, or infant formula, while phosphorus is found in a variety of foods, including meat, fish, dairy, and beans.
Calcium is a crucial nutrient for your baby's growth and development, especially for building strong bones and teeth. By incorporating calcium-rich foods in your baby's diet, such as yogurt, cheese, leafy greens, and tofu, you can ensure that they are getting vital nutrients for healthy bone development. Always consult with your pediatrician before introducing new foods or supplements to your baby's diet.