Building a foundation of strong bones for life is one of the biggest opportunities in childhood. Do you know what to do to make the most of this time and ensure your little one grows a strong skeleton?

Rafferty’s Garden nutritionist Karen Kingham shares the important things you need to know about calcium for kids and babies.

Building it up

During childhood and adolescence the skeleton gets stronger and stronger. Bones are at their strongest around the mid-20s, a time known as ‘peak bone mass’. From this time on, our bones gradually start to weaken.

Getting diet right in the early years means peak bone mass is maximised your so your children have the strongest bones they can have going into adulthood.

Worryingly, intake surveys show many of our children are not getting the calcium they need in their childhood years for strong adult bones.

How much is enough?

Calcium needs in children grow as they do. Such are their requirements that by the age of 12 years our children’s needs for calcium are in fact greater than ours.


© Rafferty’s Garden

A bone building diet

Breast milk or formula provide your little one with all the bone building nutrients they need whilst on a milk diet. But from 6 months it becomes important to introduce calcium rich foods such as dairy milk, yoghurt and cheese or non-dairy calcium fortified foods such as soy based foods and beverages.

Cow’s milk cooked into custards and sauces or on cereal is fine from 6 months, however as a drink it should be introduced after the first year. Breast milk or formula are you baby’s bests drinking milks up until this time.

Dairy serves to meet calcium needs


© Rafferty's Garden
© Rafferty’s Garden

What’s a serve?

One dairy serve is equivalent to:
1cup (250ml) milk
2 slices (40g) cheese
¾ cup (200ml) yoghurt
1 cup calcium fortified soy drink

Calcium supporters

For calcium to do its job well it needs to be supported by enough exercise and plenty of vitamin D.

Just like our muscles get stronger with exercise, so to do our bones. Directing children’s energies into play involving running and jumping is the perfect exercise for growing stronger harder bones. And, when exercise gets to happen outdoors children also have the chance to absorb vitamin D with safe sun exposure.

How do you get calcium into your little one’s diet? SHARE WITH US in the comments below. 

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  • My kids were all good milk drinkers. I just let them have as much as they wanted.


  • Thank you. This is a fantastic article. (-:


  • I am glad the article also mentioned the importance of Vitamin D.
    In some countries there very rarely suitable weather to go outside to absorb any via the sun. Unfortunately Some food containing Vitamin D is not easy for some people with other medical conditions to digest.


  • A great guide. I worried I need to give my 2 year old cows milk to drink but my MHN said he should be getting enough calcium from his diet. Looking at this between milk on cereal, cheese and yoghurt he is definitely getting enough!


  • My kids love plain milk and yogurt and hopefully they still will as they get older


  • I’m lucky that my boys love plain milk. They have it with every meal but my daughter hates plain milk so I give it to her in feral and she has lots of cheese and yogurt to compensate.


  • This is very important. Due to being Lactose Intolerance my mother now has Osteoporosis and developed a fractured hip. Sadly the condition is ireversable and she didn’t know about Calcium tablets until too late.


  • Simply put, thanks!


  • gosh you mums have to worry about so much! my son is 24 and we never had so much stuff analysed by ‘experts’


  • Smoothies,custard, yogurt my kids love it all


  • I try with yoghurt, smoothies, milk shakes and cheese, or milk with cereal. Dairy is a constant battle and one of the harder food groups for my son who can go a day without any dairy. I’m always thinking of different ways to include it in his diet.


  • Thank you for the share, great to know how much a serve is of said diary.
    My LO gets his through yoghurt and cheese. He has milk in his weetbix in the morning,
    I haven’t introduced it yet to drink yet as I am still breast feeding, think I might start giving him a little though to increase his calcium intake.


  • Used to love milk when I was a child growing up – would drink mine and my friends milk so we could go out to play.


  • Thank you for the helpful tips.


  • When you look pure to that wee list, me and my family wouldn’t get enough calcium (except for the baby). But luckily we get plenty of calcium via other foods ( meat, soy, beans and lentils, egg, fruits and veggies and not to forget nuts).


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