Sources Of Calcium for Toddlers Who Don’t Drink Milk

Sources Of Calcium for Toddlers

Milk is an integral part of a toddler’s diet. It’s an essential source of calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrients. Some toddlers may not like the taste of the milk and refuse to drink it. Toddlers have high calcium needs as it’s crucial for their growth, building strong bones and teeth. Some kids, however, do not favor milk as much and it is imperative for parents in such a case to look for sources of calcium for toddlers who don’t drink milk.

The toddler years are a time of transition when they wean from breast milk or formula and learn to eat table food. Toddlers move toward a diet more like adults, accepting new tastes and textures. They also develop general eating habits and patterns. Good nutrition is essential during these toddler years. Parents need to ensure toddlers get proper nutrients from their food every day. They are vital for them to stay healthy and strong. Also, they optimize their physical and cognitive development.

Some kids are allergic to dairy as well. Here are some common food allergies that kids have.

What is Calcium? Why do Toddlers need Calcium?

Calcium is a mineral that is integral to building healthy bones and teeth. It keeps the muscles moving and helps nerves carry messages between your brain and every part of your body. It also plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system.

Childhood is a significant time for bone growth and development. Bones are the framework for your child’s growing body. Almost all the calcium in the body is stored in bones and teeth, giving them structure and hardness. The bones continue to grow in length and diameter during childhood, and toddlers have high calcium needs to ensure healthy growth. It is crucial to start building bone mass to prevent diseases like rickets or osteoporosis as they grow older.

Calcium reservoirs in the bones need to be topped off each day as they undergo continuous remodeling, with constant resorption and deposition of calcium into new bone. And during remodeling, the bone changes in size and repairs damage. When toddlers undergo bone injuries like a broken bone or fracture, Calcium and vitamin D deficiency might affect their bone healing.

How much Calcium does your Toddler need?

According to the National Institutes of Health, toddlers of age 1 to 3 years need 700 milligrams of calcium and 600 IU (International Units) of vitamin D (which aids in calcium absorption) a day. (external link: Parents should make sure their toddlers get the recommended amount of calcium from their diet over a few days of the week.

Best Sources of Calcium for Toddlers

Sources Of Calcium for Toddlers

Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese are among the best toddler-friendly ways to help your little one get enough calcium. One cup (200ml or 8 oz.) of milk has about 300 mg of calcium. Two to three servings of milk per day can put toddlers close to their recommended daily intake.

Many toddlers go through a fussy eating phase, especially when it comes to milk. They lose interest and refuse to drink milk for various reasons. Some may not like the taste of the milk; some are allergic to milk and lactose intolerant. 

Tips to Add Milk, the Best source of calcium to your Toddler’s Diet

Here are a few tips to include milk in your toddler’s diet:

1. You can mask the flavor of the milk by adding some chocolate powder or honey before giving it to your toddler.

2. Start their day with a milky bowl of cereal, muesli, or oatmeal porridge.

3. You can serve them smoothies or milkshakes by mixing varieties of their favorite fruits and nuts in the milk.

4. Add milk to other recipes like gravies, sauces, cream-based soups, pancakes, or mashed potatoes.

5. You can even substitute a cup of plain milk with other alternatives like almond milk, powdered milk, or soy milk.

Alternative Sources Of Calcium For Toddlers Who Don’t Drink Milk

Even though toddlers don’t drink milk, other foods can supplement the calcium and nutrients provided by milk.

Sources Of Calcium for Toddlers

Some alternative sources of calcium-rich foods for your toddler are as follows:

1. Yoghurt and Cheese

You can serve your toddler a small carton of flavored yogurt as a snack. Or you can make a healthy smoothie with fruits and nuts by replacing milk with yogurt. You can also serve them foods like pizzas and cheeseburgers.

2. Cheese

You can load your homemade pizza and pasta with lots of cheese. You can even let them snack on cheese cubes or add a slice of cheese to their sandwich or burger.

3. Green leafy vegetables

Green leafy vegetables like broccoli, Chinese cabbage (bok choi), and spinach are extremely rich in calcium. You can saute broccoli along with your toddler’s favorite vegetables. You can add Chinese cabbage and spinach to your toddler’s favorite soups or noodles.

4. Beans

Beans such as soybeans, white beans, and edamame are some of the best sources of calcium. Add white beans and soybeans to salads and soups. You can also serve steamed or boiled edamame beans as a snack.

5. Fish

Sardines and salmon are non-dairy food that are excellent sources of calcium. You can use canned sardines and salmon in sandwiches.

6. Tofu

Tofu is derived from condensed soy milk pressed into solid white blocks, similar to cheese making. You can stir fry it along with your toddler’s favorite vegetables.

7. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts like almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and brazil nuts are not only rich in calcium but also have magnesium and phosphorus, which are essential for bone health. You can let your toddlers snack on a handful of nuts. You can use almond butter instead of peanut butter in sandwiches and smoothies. Seeds are tiny nutritional powerhouses, and many are high in calcium, including poppy, sesame, and chia seeds. You can top your smoothies and salads with these seeds.

Read more about Calcium-Rich foods here!


Calcium is a crucial building block for strong, healthy bones and teeth. We only get to build strong bones when we are kids and teens. When we are young, our body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone, and our bone mass increases. Most people reach their peak bone mass around age 30. After that, bone remodeling continues, but we lose slightly more bone mass than we gain. Toddlers who get enough calcium begin their adult lives with the most robust bones possible, protecting them against bone loss later in life.

Concentrated calcium sources like Milk and dairy products are most popular, but your toddlers can also get calcium from alternative sources like non-dairy foods. Your toddler also needs vitamin D to absorb the calcium into the body. Vitamin D moves calcium from the intestine to the bloodstream and bones. Your toddler can get Vitamin D directly from sunlight. There are very sources of Vitamin D, such as fatty fish (like wild-caught mackerel, salmon, and tuna) and egg yolks.

Check with your doctor or health care provider if you are concerned that your toddler isn’t eating a balanced diet and has Calcium or Vitamin D deficiency. Never give your child a vitamin or mineral supplement without discussing it with your doctor first.


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