Babies and toddlers need calcium for growing bones and teeth, but older children, teens and adults continue to need calcium too. Bone is a living tissue that is continually being replaced and repaired. We need calcium daily to keep up the renewal process.
Calcium is the single most important nutritional factor needed to achieve healthy teeth and bones. Our best sources of readily available calcium are milk and dairy products. Calcium from plant sources is not as well absorbed as calcium from milk. The calcium in milk and dairy products not only helps get babies’ and toddlers’ bones off to a strong start, but also helps protect against tooth decay.1,2 Which is why paediatric dentists recommend milk and dairy products as an ideal between meal snack.
Breast milk is a good source of calcium. Cow’s milk is not suitable as a main drink for little ones under 12 months old. Cow’s milk is too high in some nutrients, and too low in others. Its levels of protein, sodium and potassium are too high for infants. These increase the load on young kidneys and the risk of dehydration. However, from 8 months dairy products such as milk puddings, custards, yoghurt and cheese can contribute additional calcium to the diet.
From 1 year on, cows’ milk and Karicare Toddler milks are a nutritious option for toddlers.
Encourage children to enjoy milk and milk products. Establishing an eating pattern containing high-calcium foods in early life will help prevent osteoporosis in later years.
How much calcium do toddlers need each day?
From 1-3 years: at least 500mg/day.
From 1-3 years: At least 2-3 servings of milk and/or dairy products daily.
A serving is equal to 1 cup (200-250ml) of milk, or 150g pottle of yoghurt, or 2-3 slices (40g) cheese.
|Calcium content of some foods|
|Karicare Toddler Gold Milk|
Cheese, mild cheddar
Karicare Follow-On Gold formula
Yoghurt, plain unsweetened
Vanilla ice cream
Salmon, canned with bones
Soy drink, calcium fortified
Baked beans in sauce
Broccoli, cooked chopped
3 slices (40g)
1 slice (20g)
1/2 cup (100g)
1/2 cup (120g)
1/2 cup (140g)
1/4 cup (40g)
1 medium (128g)
Smoothies are suitable for toddlers (aged 1-3years old). They are so filling they make a complete meal or dessert. These smoothie recipes contain between 170 – 223mg Calcium (depending on whether you use Follow-On or Toddler formula).
½ small banana
½ Cup (125ml) Karicare Toddler Milk
1 small scoop plain ice cream
Thoroughly blend all ingredients together in a food processor, electric blender or with an egg beater. Serve immediately in a mug, and if you like with a straw.
Replace banana with 2-3 large fresh or frozen strawberries.
Tip – If you have a family history of allergies, it is best to leave strawberries until baby is over 12 months old.
Replace banana with ¼ cup tinned peaches in juice
Replace banana with ¼ cup tinned apricots in juice
Tip – tinned peaches and apricots in juice contain approx one third3 less sugar than those in syrup.
1. Moynihan PJ. Dietary advice in dental practice. British Dental Journal 2002, 193 (10):563-568.
2. Aimutis WR. Bioactive properties of milk proteins with particular focus on anticariogenesis. J Nutr 2004, 134:989S-995S.
3. The concise New Zealand food composition tables 6th Ed. NZ Institute for Crop & Food Research Ltd. Ministry of Health, 2003.