Why babies need it
This mineral helps children achieve peak bone mass, necessary for building strong bones and preventing fractures when they start climbing trees and playing sports.
Breast milk and formula meet your baby's calcium needs for the first year. Once you switch to whole milk, your baby will need 500 milligrams daily.
Serve it up
A cup of whole milk or 6 ounces of yogurt each provides about 250 milligrams, making both bone-building powerhouses. Babies under age 1 shouldn't have cow's milk, but yogurt is typically fine once you introduce solids. Other good choices are cheese, salmon, calcium-fortified orange juice, tofu, broccoli, white beans, tomatoes and oatmeal.
Good to know
Helping your baby develop a taste for low-fat dairy will serve him well when he gets close to puberty and his calcium needs soar (1,300 milligrams a day at age 9!), since calcium is absorbed best from food. Babies who are overweight and at risk for obesity, or who have a strong family history of early-onset cardiovascular disease, can have reduced-fat 2 percent milk between 12 and 24 months.