It’s a no-brainer that calcium is important when it comes to building strong bones and teeth, and it’s especially important for children as they’re growing. I’ll admit to paying absolutely zero attention to how much calcium my twelve-year-olds need, and once I learned the facts, it was startling. And abundantly clear that because they don’t drink milk, like yogurt, or really eat much cheese, that they were getting nowhere near the recommended daily allowance of calcium they need for those growing bones and growing bodies. On this front, I was definitely failing them. In an effort to both educate you, and save you from being embarrassed on this front like I was, here is how to make sure your child is getting enough calcium.
You should also read up on the importance of having enough calcium in the bones: Bone Health
How Much Calcium Do Children Need?
Before you do anything, figure out how much calcium kids are getting. According to the NIH, children need the following amount of calcium on a daily basis:
|6 months or younger||200 mg/day|
|6 to 12 months||260 mg/day|
|1 to 3 years||700 mg/day|
|4 to 8 years||1,000 mg/day|
|9 to 13 years||1,300 mg/day|
|14 to 18 years||1,300 mg/day|
Note that by age nine, the amount of calcium kids needs jumps a TON – up to 1,300 mg a day, and that’s not easy to do if dairy isn’t a big part of their daily food intake.
So how can you make sure your kids get this much calcium? Start by ensuring they’re eating the right foods, as this is the most natural way to increase calcium. You can always add calcium supplements as needed, but try out some calcium-rich foods and drinks first.
Foods That Can Boost Your Child’s Calcium Levels
As I said, most people first think of dairy products when it’s time to boost calcium levels in the body. That’s because dairy—particularly milk—has a good amount of calcium in it. Children who are 2 to 3 years old can get sufficient calcium when they drink 2 cups of milk each day. The recommended amount increases to 2.5 cups at age 4, and after age 9, kids and teenagers should have 3 cups per day.
Of course, milk isn’t the only dairy product with plenty of calcium, so don’t worry if your kids don’t like to drink milk. Other sources of calcium in the dairy group include:
- Hard, soft, or processed cheeses (including cheddar, ricotta, and American cheese)
- Ice cream
- Frozen yogurt
But if your kids either don’t like dairy or can’t have dairy, don’t worry. There are still plenty of ways to get calcium through dairy-free sources. One option is through non-dairy milk, such as almond milk, soymilk, and coconut milk, since these drinks are usually fortified with calcium.
In fact, you can make a treat with your dairy-free milk of choice: Calcium Needs for Children+Banana Berry Blast Smoothie Recipe
As far as dairy-free food options, there are lots to choose from. Some dairy-free sources of calcium include:
- Canned salmon
- Canned sardines
- Bok choy
- Sweet potatoes
- Mustard greens
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Here’s what my kids would say to that list: Canned salmon (yuck), canned sardines (no way, Jose), Bok choy (okay, sometimes), kale (okay, if you sneak it in), spinach (okay in moderation), sweet potatoes (on occasion), tofu (nope), figs (maybe, but they are rarely in season where we live), mustard greens (maybe, but rare.
These foods are not really all that kid friendly are they? If you have trouble getting your kids to eat any of these dairy-free calcium-rich foods, you can try more kid-friendly options, such as cereal or oatmeal. These are often fortified with calcium, but they naturally appeal to many children, making them some delicious dairy-free ways moms can get kids the calcium they need. My kids either neither cereal or oatmeal—we’re more into fresh fruit, eggs, or pancakes for breakfast, so you can see my dilemma when it comes to getting enough calcium in my kids, huh?
Plus, check out Dairy-Free Ways Moms Can Get Kids the Calcium They Need
Of course, another way to get more calcium into your kids’ daily routine is to offer a supplement they can easily take. That’s where FitFormula’s Calcium + D comes in. It’s flavorless and tasteless and you can easily stir it into your child’s favorite food or drink to ensure he or she gets 1,000 mg of calcium per day. Want to get to the 1,300 mg/day level, do that once in the morning and once in the evening. The powder is flavorless and dissolves quickly in food and beverages, so there’s no need to worry about your child having to swallow or chew large pills to get sufficient calcium every day. Want to give it a try? Use Code FitFormula50 for 50% off your first order and see what you think. It’s a super easy way to make sure your child is getting enough calcium.
More sources on getting more calcium in your child’s diet: