Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters. They are already exploring different food tastes and developing preferences. Unfortunately, young children go for the sweet, rich, oily and generally unhealthy food choices.
Calcium’s Role in Bone Building
Calcium is a critical nutrient needed by growing kids. It is a key mineral needed to sustain developing and growing bones and teeth. A growing child will need calcium fortified meals to help him grow tall and strong. Lack of calcium in the body may lead to stunted growth, weak bones, fractures and rickets. Rickets is a bone disease that causes bone weakness, poor growth, bowing of the legs and muscle pain.
The human body does not generate its own calcium. We can only rely on calcium fortified food to sustain our needs. Children below three years old would need at least 700 milligrams of calcium every day. 4-8 year-olds need 1,000 milligrams a day, and older active kids need as much as 1,300 milligrams of calcium every day.
Here are the most common kid-friendly calcium-rich food sources.
Milk and other dairy products are still one of the best sources of calcium for young children. To complete his or her calcium requirement for the day, your child has to drink up to four glasses of milk! But you can supplement their calcium RDA by giving them fruit-flavoured yoghurt snacks, cheese sandwiches, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a milk smoothie, or a savoury pastry.
Orange is a refreshing and delicious fruit children love. Everyone like an orange fruit eaten as is or squeezed into a refreshing drink. But for picky toddlers, you can dress up the fruit to make it more appetising. Add orange bits to their morning cereal, jelly orange for sandwiches, add to cupcakes or muffins, or toss up with other juicy fruit bits for a delightful snack.
Salmon, anchovies and sardines are common fish varieties that are rich in calcium. Fish is a powerhouse source of good nutrients including Omega-3, Vitamins A, D, and E. However, fish dishes do not rank high in kids’ all-time favourites. Be creative when serving fish to your little ones. The earlier you introduce fish dishes to your kids, the more likely they will accept the taste. Always make sure that you’re serving only the freshest catch. Canned fish is a great alternative to fresh ones as they include softened fish bones, which contains a good amount of healthy calcium. Avoid giving sushi and other raw fish dishes to young kids.
Nuts are great substitute calcium source for lactose intolerant kids. The best part is, kids love snacking on nuts! Almond is the most calcium fortified nut. About a third of a cup of almonds is enough to comply with your kid’s calcium needs. You can also sprinkle almonds on breakfast oatmeal, toss into salads, or spread almond butter on bread.
Vegetables are considered the ultimate healthy food. Dark green vegetables like kale, collard greens, broccoli, spinach, Brussel sprouts, turnip greens, okra, sweet potatoes and bok choy are so rich in calcium. However, a lot of kids simply avoid anything classified as a vegetable. Try incorporating vegetable bits into their favourite soups and dishes. Preparing and serving vegetable as meat substitute is also one way of making your kids like veggies.
Beans, Peas and Seeds
Beans, peas and seeds are great sources of calcium. Chickpeas, garbanzo beans, white beans, lima beans, green peas, sesame seeds, kidney beans, lintels, and navy beans are just some of the most filling, calcium-fortified, and fibre-rich food sources. These little food wonders can also substitute meat in many dishes including burgers, a favourite among kids.
Eggs are one of the safest and most complete food you can readily serve to your child. There are endless possibilities of serving eggs. Boiled, poached, and fried eggs are breakfast staples. You can also add eggs to salads, sandwiches, and meat dishes. And if your child prefers sweets, pies, flans, cakes, and tarts are your best options of making sure he or she is getting enough calcium.
Calcium Fortified Cereal and Grains
If your child likes his or her morning bowl of cereals, you’re lucky because cereals are also rich in calcium. Just make sure you pick the right box. Calcium-fortified cereals are formulated to meet your youngster’s calcium needs. Aside from cereals, brown rice, ragi, oats, and whole wheat grains are good sources of calcium.
Blackstrap molasses is the good kind of sweet you can afford to let your kids indulge in. Two teaspoons of blackstrap molasses contain about 120 milligrams of calcium. Instead of sugar, use molasses to sweeten their drink, on baked goodies and treats, or when making marinades, sauces, and dips.
First Walkers is dedicated to your child’s health and welfare. We offer a wide variety of shoes specially designed for kids. We also carry shoes for special care needs. Aside from good and well-designed shoes, we believe that your child’s health and wellness are largely dependent on you and in your care and love. See more informative and child-focused articles here.