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Why Your Toddler Needs More Than Calcium To Keep Their Bones Strong

flickr / Chung Chu

There are going to be times when you’ll swear your kid has grown overnight. And that’s very possible. In fact, it’s downright probable. At least more probable than gnomes coming in the night to make all your kid’s clothes smaller. Think of it like this: Santa Claus? Absolutely real. Overnight growth spurts? Scientifically proven. Clothes shortening gnomes? They don’t exist.

Your kid’s growth spurts are controlled by a complicated system of occasional night-time hormonal surges that nobody understands. However, in order for that growth to occur you kid needs the right building materials. Namely, Calcium. Here’s how much they need and where to get it.

What To Know About Dem Growing Bones

Right now your kid’s body is working on building their bones and teeth. That scaffolding is home to 99 percent of the calcium that enters their body. As the bones are built, they become denser. That density protects kids from fractures as they enter their daring, build-a-jump-out-of-scrap-wood, adolescence. Additionally, it protects them from osteoporosis in their far less daring, dear-god-don’t-let-me-fall, old age.

In order for your kid to build the bone density they need, the National Academy of Sciences recommends a daily calcium intake of 500 milligrams. That amount stays stable until your kid turns 4, at which point the recommended intake is increased 800 milligrams daily.

The Vitamin Ally

But calcium needs a helper to get into your kids’ system. Kinda like how monster truck drivers need a boost to get into their Gravediggers and whatnot. That helper is vitamin D, which aids in calcium absorption. In fact, vitamin D is so crucial that without it, the body can’t absorb calcium at all. That’s basically the definition of crucial.

A lack of vitamin D can also lead to rickets. This weakening or softening of the bones can lead to skeletal deformities like bowed legs or protruding chest bones. These may require surgery to correct.

Where To Get It

The obvious choice for calcium is dairy products. These are your old friend’s milk, ice cream, cheese, ice cream, and ice cream. Depending on what they’re eating, your kid can knock out that 500mg pretty quickly. A cup of yogurt in the morning, for instance, will get them halfway there. If they have a cup of milk in the evening they’ve got what they need. Basically, you’re aiming for 2 servings of dairy a day. But be sure you’re reading the labels.

Dairy Alternatives

But what happens when your kid can’t have or doesn’t like, dairy? There are other options your kid might dig:

  • 1/2 Cup Canned White Beans — 95 mg
  • 2 Eggs — 50 mg
  • 3 oz. Canned Salmon — 200 mg
  • 2 Tablespoons Sesame Butter — 180 mg
  • 10 Inch Flour Tortilla — 90 mg
  • 5 Figs — 135 mg
  • Medium Orange — 65 mg

Also, look to any dark leafy greens. As a last resort, they can be blended into pancake mixes and non-dairy smoothies. Also keep in mind that calcium supplements haven’t really been shown to be effective and dietary calcium sources are always preferred.

Vitamin D

One of the best things about Vitamin D is that your kid’s body can make their own. You just have to put them in the sun for a few minutes. However, there are plenty of other sources of vitamin D.

The important part is that you’re being conscious about giving your kid a well rounded diet and a little time in the sunshine. It’s the only way for your kid’s bones and teeth to keep growing which will be a boon to another totally real character in a couple years: the tooth fairy.