Your baby’s body has about 300 bones at birth―that’s 94 more than the average adult. And in the first two years, many of those bones will fuse together as your baby learns to roll, crawl, walk, and eventually outrun you at the supermarket. (Wear sneakers, folks!) Now that’s a system worth supporting―especially when it comes to what you put on their plates. Here are six foods for your baby’s bone development that provide the nutrients your baby needs to grow strong bones for life.
Rumor has it that magnesium might even be as important as calcium when it comes to growing strong, healthy bones in babies. That’s because it boosts those tiny body’s ability to grow denser bones, which is super important as they get older―and when they start jumping off the slide at the park. How to serve it? Add a schmear of nut butter to your baby’s puree or let your toddler dip veggies or apple slices in a scoop. Some of our favorite nut butters are coconut butter and sunflower seed butter.
Red bell pepper
Bell peppers are bursting with vitamin C, a building block your baby or toddler’s body needs to produce collagen―AKA the protein found in the connective tissue of cartilage and bones. Without collagen, those little bones are more likely to sprain and break (ouch!), so dish up the C to stimulate those bone-building cells and enhance calcium absorption. If the flavor of bell peppers is too strong for your little one to start, try butternut squash and cauliflower as other good vitamin C sources.
Considered one of nature’s perfect proteins, quinoa should definitely be on the menu to support strong bone development. That’s because protein not only contributes to stronger bones, but it also helps strengthen those tiny muscles supporting the skeletal structure. Now that’s a good reason to pump, pump, pump up the protein. (Don’t worry―we’re pretty sure your coffee will still be stronger than your toddler.) You can find quinoa in our Spinach + Banana meal, with coconut butter and chia seeds.
Egg yolks are one of the few natural food sources of vitamin D, the powerhouse nutrient your baby’s body needs to absorb calcium. Think of vitamin D like the Alfred to calcium’s Batman―it gets our hero where it needs to go and in style. Try serving scrambled egg yolks along with their breakfast puree or make a hash with a few favorite veggies. Fun fact: any Raised Real meal can be served as a scramble for your baby or toddler- just add an egg.
Beans and lentils
Legumes are high in zinc, which assists in optimal cell growth and repair, including in your baby or toddler’s bones. Plus, they’re also high in fiber, which can help make sure your little one keeps going…and going. Talk about two birds with one bean. What is the best way to serve beans to your tiny human? We mix navy beans with blueberries, beats, coconut butter, and ginger in our Blueberry + Beat meal and with peas, broccoli, olive oil, and mint in our Peas + Mint meal.
Not surprisingly, dairy foods are some of the best sources to make sure your baby or toddler is getting enough calcium, one of the most important nutrients for proper bone health. Breast milk or formula will likely provide the majority of the calcium your baby needs, but you can supplement with baby-safe dairy options like yogurt and cheese before 12 months and then add in cow’s milk after their first birthday. (Milk goes great with cake anyway.) Don’t do the moo? You can also dish up a hefty dose of calcium from leafy greens, broccoli, sesame, and white beans.
Broccoli is practically a superhero when it comes to bones. Not only does it pack a punch of calcium and zinc, it’s also a good source of vitamin K. Low levels of vitamin K have been connected to low bone density, so make sure your baby or toddler gets enough by serving it up steamed, roasted, or raw with hummus. At Raised Real, we mix broccoli with green beans, flax seeds, chickpeas and avocado oil. And sleep soundly―broccoli’s on the case.
By, Justine Lorelle LoMonaco