Dairy free fish pie; a Calcium rich meal for babies & toddlers with milk allergy

Calcium rich foods for babies & toddlers with milk allergy – including recipe ideas!

If you have a baby or toddler with a milk allergy, here are some ideas for dairy-free calcium rich foods to include in their diet.

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If your child happily drinks their milk alternative then calcium intake probably doesn’t cause you much concern. However, if your little one is not so keen, then it probably takes up a lot of your head space – I’ve been there 😬. In this post I’m sharing the dairy free foods you can use to up your child’s calcium intake, and recipe ideas to help you incorporate these foods in practice.

Calcium rich foods for babies & toddlers with milk allergy

Calcium fortified products:

One of the easiest ways to increase your child’s calcium intake is to make sure you are choosing fortified dairy alternatives in their meals.

Plant based milks (which can be used from weaning in cooking) are the most obvious way to do this. Examples include oat, almond, hemp and coconut milk (drinking coconut milk, not canned versions). Even if your child is not keen on these as a drink, there are lots of ways they can be used in cooking at good volumes. Just be sure that you choose a fortified and unsweetened version (see the British Dietetic Association guidance on this). Avoid organic products as these tend to have no calcium fortification.

There are now also plenty of calcium fortified cheese and yoghurt alternatives available. Although there are differences in things like protein and fat compared to their dairy equivalents, the calcium levels in many fortified products are similar. To find out more, see my posts on the best dairy free cheese and yoghurts for babies and toddlers with milk allergy.

It’s not just dairy alternatives which are fortified with calcium. The following foods are also commonly fortified in the UK:

  • Many breads in the UK contain additional calcium. The UK Federation of Bakers states that “By law white and brown flour are fortified with calcium therefore white or brown breads are preferable to wholemeal for people whose calcium intake may be inadequate.” 
  • Some cereals are calcium fortified, for example cheerios, ready brek, and rice crispies multigrain shapes. None of these contain milk as an ingredient, but some have ‘may contain’ warnings, so always double check if they are suitable for your family. 

Other foods which are naturally calcium rich:

Fortified foods are not the only calcium rich options for babies and toddlers with milk allergy. The following list shows food which are naturally very calcium rich (source: British Dietetic Association): 

  • Tinned fish, such as salmon and sardines, with bones. The bones are what contain much of the calcium but, of course, for babies and toddlers this would have to be mashed extremely well or pureed. See below for some recipe ideas.
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Oranges
  • Scampi in breadcrumbs
  • Spring greens 

Dairy free calcium rich recipe ideas

The first section of recipe ideas are all meals which use a good volume of plant based milk or yogurt. As long as you use a fortified product, then one portion will provide a helpful dose of calcium. The second section suggests meals which use other naturally calcium rich food as one of their main ingredients. All meals are child friendly, and suitable for the whole family.

Recipes using fortified dairy alternatives:

  • Smoothies; ideally served in a fun pouch like Nom Nom kids*. Smoothies are so easy to adapt based on your little one’s favourite flavours.
  • Custard made using plant based milk and powder (Birds Eye doesn’t contain dairy, but be aware it does have a ’may contain milk’ warning).
  • Pancakes; many recipes, such as these banana oat pancakes, use a good volume of dairy free milk.

2. Recipes using naturally calcium rich foods

  • Kale crisps are my top tip for getting toddlers to eat kale! Generally I find that simply putting the word ‘crisps’ in there means you’re on to a winner – it’s all in the branding 😂
  • Make a fish pate using tinned fish and serve on toast or crackers. Try this sardine pate recipe, switching the cream cheese for a dairy free alternative like Oatly or Nush.
  • Salmon and broccoli egg-free fishcakes are one of our favourite dinners, and a great way to sneak some broccoli in for any reluctant veg eaters.

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