I think we all know that breast milk is the best for a baby, especially in the first 6 months of their life. Breastfeeding is not always possible, for various reasons, and formula offers the nutritional values required at this stage. However, when weaning starts, it can be difficult to know how much of what nutrients babies need, are we giving them enough? If you ask Dr Google, you will soon realise that the answers you get are varying greatly and you are exactly where you started, not knowing if what you are doing is correct.
WHO guidelines are pretty much the average of the information you can find everywhere else, so let's take them as a guide here. It is also interesting to find that different countries suggest often vastly different guidelines. Strange, as babies have the same nutritional needs wherever they are born.
Adequate calcium intake (WHO, 2009)
So how much calcium is in the food that a baby might eat? Quite a lot, as long as you offer the right foods. Below is a selection of high calcium content foods from different food groups.
Calcium in baby friendly food
At the first glance it looks like it wouldn't be too difficult to meet the requirements of calcium intake. Not at the early stages anyway. However, as kids grow older, you can see how important food variety becomes. If you offer your baby a variety of calcium rich foods, including milk, there will be no problem. In the case of fussy eaters or children with certain allergies, who may refuse to eat or are unable to eat dairy products for example, you may be facing a challenge to meet the demands of the growing bones.
Variety is the key here, and I wouldn't imagine 6 year old drinking four glasses of milk every day, or eating sandwiches with a lot of cheese, it wouldn't be healthy either. 5-6 glasses of milk for a 10 year old seems even more ridiculous. With so many teenagers living on junk food and coke (coke actually washes calcium away), there is no chance they are getting enough, not even if they eat fortified cereal with milk for breakfast and drink some orange juice. This can cause massive health problems if kids are not brought up eating proper food, as calcium is also responsible for the absorption of vitamin D.
Try to include a variety of calcium rich foods with every meal. Pasta with tofu and broccoli with some tahini would be a lovely lunch high in calcium, vegan and dairy free. Hummus with carrot sticks for kids with teeth, or just spread on a piece of bread, even baked beans with a jacket potato and some cheese would offer a good amount of calcium, or my chickpeas, carrot and watercress salad.
If you have any calcium rich suggestions, share them in the comments.