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Calcium - what your baby & toddler needs

Posted by Karen Faulkner on
calcium and your baby, calcium requirements in a baby

Calcium is one of those essential minerals we need in our diet

It forms our skeletal system and increases seven fold from birth to puberty. It is essential for our neuro-muscular and cardiac system. We need Vitamin D and exercise to increase our body's uptake.
Vegans have a lower calcium intake than vegetarians and omnivores.
The efficiency of calcium absorption varies across foods as calcium may be poorly absorbed from foods rich in oxalic acid (e.g. spinach, rhubarb, beans) or phytic acid (seeds, nuts, grains, certain raw beans and soy isolates). Absorption from soy milk can be, but is not always, as high as that from milk. Compared to milk, calcium absorption from dried beans is about 50% and from spinach, 10%. A high salt diet and too much protein has a negative effect on calcium absorption. It's all about balance.

I come across many children who are cows milk protein intolerant or allergic. Dairy is one of the best sources of calcium but your baby or child can still get adequate calcium from non-dairy sources e.g. Calcium fortified cereals, tofu, green veggies and tinned oily fish.

Adequate Intake of Calcium per age group

    • Infants 0–6 months 210 mg/day
    • 7–12 months 270 mg/day

    • Children,1-3 year olds, RDI is 500mg per day
These come from "RECOMMENDATIONS BY LIFE STAGE" from NHMRC (National Health & Medical Research Council)

Calcium-rich foods

    • Tofu is one of the best, mash into solids or give as finger foods. It gives a whopping 861mg in 1/2 a cup when calcium enriched.
    • Weetbix 400mg per 100g (each biscuit 30g)
    • Tinned Sardines 321mg in about 7 sardines fillets with bones mashed up - give it on toast soldiers as finger food
    • Tinned Salmon 232mg in 1/2 can, again with bones mashed
    • Full Cream Milk 268mg in 250mls
    • Yoghurt Full-Fat 371mg in 200g
    • Cheddar Cheese 305mg 40g
    • Edam cheese 336mg in 40g
    • White Beans 191mg in 1 cup canned
    • Soy cheese 180mg in 40g
    • Seaweed 126mg in 1 cup
    • Sesame seeds 88mg in 1 tablespoon, tahini and hummus are a
    • Soybeans/endame 60mg per 100g
    • Chick Peas 49mg per 100g
    • Coconut milk 16mg in 100g

After 1 year of age Children only need 2 servings of dairy a day, a serving is a cup of full cream milk or a matchbox size of cheese. It's like anything in life, balance is key.

Too much dairy can affect iron intake and other nutrients.

Some further reading

Baby sleep and food balance are very important. Get that balance right and your baby or toddler is on their way to the land of sweet dreams and good baby sleep.

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