It’s easier than you think.
My sisters, brother and I all taught our children the same cute little move as soon as they were old enough.
“Show us how strong you are,” we’d say, and they’d lift their little, skinny arms up in a weightlifting pose. It’s always cute and never gets tired. It also teaches them from early age how important it is to have strong and healthy bones, and teeth.
We all know that calcium is essential for strong bones. We now also know that babies and toddlers need plenty of calcium to prevent rickets, a bone-softening disease that can lead to muscle pain, weakness and other structural abnormalities.
According to the National Health and Medical Research Council, daily calcium requirements for children of 1-3 yrs are 500mg/day (2 serves), 4-8yrs 700 mg/day (3 serves) and 9-18 years between 1000-1300 mg/day (3–4 serves).
And here are six easy and slightly sneaky ways to do it:
1. Cheese sauce.
Making cheese sauce from scratch is so simple and it also freezes well. Make a batch on the weekend and add chicken, pasta and vegetables for a delicious dinner. Place this in a baking tray and top with breadcrumbs before baking for a crunchier version. All you need to do is melt two tablespoons of butter in a saucepan. Then add two tablespoons of plain flour. Stir with a whisk until it forms a paste. Add two cups of milk and a pinch of salt and stir until it thickens. Then add any cheese you have on hand and stir until it melts.
2. School lunches.
I have three children, so packing school lunches becomes quite overwhelming sometimes. I have found that as long as I am organised and have lots of snacks on hand, it is much easier. Stocking all the different DAIRYLEA products helps. Not only are DAIRYLEA products a source of calcium, they also have so much variety that every child will soon decide which their favourite is. My daughter loves STRIP CHEESE, Giovanni eats DUNKERS with crackers and my oldest eats CHEESE PODS. I eat cheese every day as well. I love kids’ foods, especially cheese snacks.
3. Milk Straws.
I never liked drinking plain milk when I was little, so I used to load it up with unhealthy flavours. These days there are much better options, like milk straws. Milk straws are great because they limit the amount of flavour kids will add and they are really easy to use. No more messes of toppings and kids sneaking dry spoonfuls of it when your back is turned…
4. It’s not just dairy.
Dairy foods are the best, but not the only source of calcium. I discovered this years ago when I was looking for extra sources of calcium for my dad who had been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Calcium is in almonds, tinned salmon with bones, broccoli, and kale just to name a few. There are lots of ways you can use these foods to increase your children’s calcium consumption. You can make broccoli in cheese sauce, even add some salmon to it as well. You can make delicious soups and stir fries using broccoli and kale and toss in some almonds.