Calcium is an important part of overall nutrition for toddlers in their growing days. Apart from its role in building muscles and bones, it is a vital element to enable the production of enzymes that convert the food ingested to energy. It improves nerve and muscle functions as well.
Parents often become confused when it comes to their kid’s diet, as they are unable to decide the type of food that ensures optimal calcium intake. The following foods are some rich sources of calcium that can be added to your toddler’s diet.
These are some of the common go-to foods chosen for calcium needs. You ideally need to ensure that the child (if he/she is not lactose intolerant) gets at least a single serving of dairy products like milk, paneer (or any other form of cheese), or curd, every day.
- If your toddler is fussy about eating curd, add a bit of sugar to make it sweeter or opt for flavoured yogurts. These are not only a rich source of calcium but are also good for the gut.
- If your kids are not very fond of paneer in curry, you can ghee roast it. Put them on skewers to make it look more appealing.
- Drinking milk without any sugar or supplements, is the best thing for a wholesome calcium intake. However, if that’s not the case, there are several flavoured powders that are available to enhance the taste of the milk.
- Add your child’s favourite fruits in diced form to some cold milk to prepare delicious homemade milkshakes.
- Kheer is a dish most children love and it is a great way to incorporate milk into their diet. Just pressure cook rice in milk with preferred amount of sugar, and wait for two whistles and its ready to be served.
For toddlers who are lactose intolerant, tofu is one calcium-rich substitute that can be roasted and added to curries.
Calcium Rich Vegetables
Beans, sweet potatoes, and green vegetables like spinach and broccoli are other great sources of calcium. But, toddlers can get finicky about eating them, so here are some ways to sneak in the vegetables to their plate.
- Add pureed spinach to puri or chappati dough to make it delicious. The green colour of the food can fascinate your toddler.
- If your child likes eating lentil soup (dal) and rice, you can add some spinach while cooking them. You can also add other veggies like peas and carrots to the soup as well.
- Sweet potatoes can be plain boiled in salt water and are tasty enough to be eaten as it is. Or, you can disguise it as dessert by mashing them and adding some milk to it to get a pudding consistency. Cook this mixture with a pinch of cinnamon for an added flavour.
- Beans can be introduced in blanched form with mashed potatoes or can be made into a gravy.
- You can even add beans while preparing noodles and fried rice.
Calcium Rich Fruits and Nuts
- If your toddler finds almonds very dry and hard, you can soak them overnight and feed it in the morning.
- Almonds can be powdered and stored in airtight jars for up to a week. Make sure you do not blitz them too much so as to keep it from releasing any oil. Keep checking for consistency every 5-10 seconds when grinding it. This powder can be added to porridge, pancake batters, and even to milk.
- Most kids like to eat oranges but if yours is not one of them, you can opt for freshly squeezed orange juice made at home.
Importance of Vitamin D for Calcium Absorption
Ensuring ample intake of calcium is very important, however, it can sometimes be in vain if it is not absorbed by the body due to deficiency in Vitamin D. Milk is one of those foods that has both the nutrients and is a good source of both. A small walk during early morning hours under the sun can also help gain Vitamin D.
These are some of the many foods that are calcium rich. You can also refer your child’s pediatrician if you feel he/ she is not getting enough calcium through only food, owing to fussy eating. The doctor may prescribe supplements that are right for your kid.