When parents think about boosting their baby’s health, they seldom worry about building healthy bones. However, healthy bones are essential in helping your child develop physically and mentally.
With strong bones, they can perform various forms of developmental play that will nurture both their body and mind. Moreover, a robust framework promotes balance and prevents fractures and osteoporosis later in life. With that being said, what are some baby food suggestions for strong bones?
Why is it essential to develop strong bones early on?
Before we list down baby food suggestions for strong bones, let’s first talk about why it’s vital to develop healthy bones while you’re still young.
Bones, the framework of your baby’s body, are living tissues. You can consider them as “banks” where you “deposit and withdraw bone tissues.” According to experts, girls achieve 90% of their peak bone mass (when the bones have the maximum density and strength) at 18, boys at 20. Hence, the time before that-even during infancy-is the best period to invest in bone health.
Baby food suggestions for strong bones
Generally, you can help your baby strengthen their bones through exercise and diet. While they are still infants, you can’t do much about exercise other than helping them stretch and explore whenever they can.
To strengthen their bones through diet, you can give them foods rich in calcium and vitamin D. Calcium helps your baby grow strong bones, while vitamin D helps them absorb calcium.
Foods rich in calcium:
- Dairy products such as milk and cheese
- Green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and cabbage
- Fortified bread and juice
- Fish where you can eat the bones such as sardines
Foods rich in vitamin D:
- Oily fish such as salmon and tuna
- Fortified powdered milk
Be sure to prepare the foods accordingly. If your baby just started on weaning, cut the foods in chunks and pieces and soften them up so that they can easily chew them. Besides the baby food suggestion for strong bones, keep the following things in mind:
Talk to their doctor about the appropriate servings for their age.
Generally, babies younger than 6 months need 200 mg of calcium daily, while babies 6 to 11 months old need about 260 mg per day. During your consultation, the doctor will tell you about the recommended servings of the baby food choices for strong bones.
Replace common foods with their high-calcium versions.
For instance, if you give them fruit juice once in a while, choose the brand fortified with calcium. Just be careful about their sugar content.
Babies are naturally at-risk of vitamin D deficiency.
All babies from birth to 12 months are at risk of vitamin D deficiency, whether they are exclusively or partially breastfed. Babies who take more than 500 ml of infant formula daily may not be at risk if their formula has vitamin D. Due to this reason, it’s important to talk to your baby’s doctor about vitamin D supplementation.
Be careful with sunlight exposure.
Now, you must be wondering: isn’t it that sunlight is a good source of vitamin D? Why can’t I bring my baby out in the sun for a little while?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend sunlight exposure to get sufficient vitamin D. Moreover, they highlight that babies younger than 6 months should be kept from direct sunlight as much as possible. Also, please do not apply any sunscreen on their skin.
Once they reach 6 months, you can talk to their doctor about an appropriate sunscreen lotion or cream.
Encourage your baby to exercise.
As mentioned earlier, exercise also helps build strong bones. Hence, as you give your baby calcium-rich foods for bones and perhaps, vitamin D supplementation, consider the following bone-strengthening practices:
- For babies who are not yet walking, encourage them to play actively on the floor.
- For babies who can now walk, allow them 3 hours of physical activity. Don’t worry; they don’t have to consume those 3 hours straight – you can spread them out throughout the day. Include simple, bone-strengthening “workouts” such as climbing and jumping.
Learn more about Baby Nutrition here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.