Signs of calcium deficiency in babies & What mothers should know

Calcium, often referred to as the cornerstone of strong bones and teeth, plays a pivotal role in the healthy growth and development of infants. While the absence of calcium deficiency’s glaring symptoms might deceive parents into thinking that everything is fine, it’s crucial to recognize that this deficiency can lurk beneath the surface, affecting babies at various stages of their early life. In this article, we will delve into the world of calcium deficiency in babies, shedding light on the subtle signs that demand parental vigilance and prompt medical attention. Let’s embark on this journey to safeguard our little ones’ health and well-being.

Why do children need Calcium?

Calcium is a crucial component for the development of strong bones and teeth in children. During the growing stage, young children require sufficient calcium to support their bone formation. It is also important to note that calcium alone is not enough, as it works in conjunction with vitamin D for optimal bone health.

Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium in the body. It helps regulate calcium and phosphorus levels, which are vital for bone growth and development. Insufficient levels of vitamin D can lead to rickets, a condition commonly observed in young children, characterized by weakened and soft bones. Rickets can have long-term consequences on a child’s overall development.

Recognizing the signs of vitamin D3 deficiency in infants is crucial. Some common indicators include:

  • Delayed Growth and Development: Infants with vitamin D deficiency may exhibit slower growth and delayed developmental milestones compared to their peers.
  • Weak or Soft Bones: Insufficient vitamin D can lead to weakened or soft bones, increasing the risk of fractures or deformities.
  • Dental Issues: Vitamin D deficiency can also affect dental health, leading to delayed tooth eruption and weakened tooth enamel.
  • Muscle Weakness: Infants may experience muscle weakness and delayed motor skills due to inadequate vitamin D levels.
  • Irritability and Restlessness: Vitamin D deficiency can contribute to irritability, fussiness, and general discomfort in infants.
  • Sweating: Excessive sweating, particularly on the forehead, is sometimes observed in infants with vitamin D deficiency.

If parents observe these signs or suspect vitamin D3 deficiency in their infants, it is important to consult a pediatrician or healthcare professional for appropriate diagnosis and management. The doctor may recommend vitamin D supplements or adjustments to the infant’s diet and sunlight exposure.

Maintaining a balanced diet and ensuring sufficient exposure to sunlight (with proper sun protection measures) are important preventive measures for vitamin D3 deficiency. Breast milk, formula, and foods rich in vitamin D, such as fortified dairy products, fatty fish, and egg yolks, can help support the infant’s vitamin D needs.

Please note that it is always best to consult with healthcare professionals for accurate diagnosis and personalized advice regarding infants’ nutrition and health concerns.

Symptoms of calcium deficiency in infants and children

While most infants do not exhibit apparent symptoms of calcium deficiency, there have been reports of certain symptoms observed in infants and young children. These symptoms may indicate calcium deficiency and should be taken seriously. Some of the reported signs of calcium deficiency in babies include:

  • Irritability, fussiness, and difficulty sleeping: Infants with calcium deficiency may display increased irritability, fussiness, and have trouble sleeping. These symptoms can also be observed in older children and adults with calcium deficiency.
  • Startling easily or experiencing heightened reactions during sleep: One of the noticeable signs of calcium deficiency in infants is their tendency to startle easily or have exaggerated reactions during sleep. This sign should be carefully observed, and prompt medical attention should be sought if it occurs.
  • Poor appetite and delayed development: Babies and children lacking calcium may exhibit anorexia (loss of appetite) and have delayed development. They may appear uncomfortable, lethargic, and lack focus, including during feeding.
  • Dental problems: In older children, calcium deficiency can manifest as delayed teething, weak tooth enamel, teeth that are more prone to breakage, misalignment, and increased susceptibility to dental caries (cavities).
  • Facial muscle spasms or twitching: Abnormalities in facial muscle expression, such as twitching of the lips, tongue, or eyes, can sometimes occur and may be mistaken for seizures.
  • Excessive sweating during sleep: Some infants with calcium deficiency may sweat excessively while sleeping.

It is important to note that infants born prematurely or with low birth weight are at higher risk of calcium deficiency and its associated symptoms. Their immune systems may not be as developed as those born full-term or at a healthy weight.

Other potential symptoms of calcium deficiency can include low blood pressure, as there is a correlation between calcium levels in the blood and blood pressure. Additionally, severe cases of calcium deficiency can lead to convulsions, which are dangerous and require immediate medical attention due to the decreased oxygen supply to the brain.

If parents observe any of these symptoms or suspect calcium deficiency in their baby, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment.

Please note that this information is provided for general knowledge, and individual cases may vary. Consulting with a pediatrician or healthcare professional is always recommended for accurate diagnosis and appropriate management of calcium deficiency in infants.


When parents suspect that their child may be displaying manifestations of calcium deficiency in infants and young children, it is important to take the child to the nearest medical facility for a blood calcium test. A blood test is typically ordered by the doctor to accurately diagnose the child’s condition.

The blood calcium test measures the levels of calcium in the bloodstream and helps determine if the child is experiencing calcium deficiency. This test provides valuable information that can assist the doctor in making an accurate diagnosis and developing an appropriate treatment plan if necessary.

Parents should reach out to their child’s healthcare provider or pediatrician to discuss their concerns and request a blood calcium test. The healthcare professional will be able to guide them further and recommend the appropriate steps to address any potential calcium deficiency in the child.

Stages of calcium deficiency in infants

Early stage: Occurs about 2 to 3 days after birth

Late stage: begins in the first week after birth


Signs of calcium deficiency in babies can be attributed to various causes, including factors related to milk, hormones, and substances affecting calcium levels in the blood. The causes may vary depending on the different stages of deficiency.

In the early stages, calcium deficiency is often caused by multiple factors, but it typically resolves on its own over time.

In rarer cases, during the later stages of deficiency, certain factors can contribute to the manifestations of calcium deficiency in infants. Excessive consumption of cow’s milk or products containing high levels of phosphate can be a contributing factor, although it is not the primary cause.

The main cause of calcium deficiency can be associated with issues concerning parathyroid hormone. The parathyroid gland, located in the neck region, produces this hormone, which helps regulate normal calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood. If the baby’s body fails to produce sufficient parathyroid hormone, it can lead to manifestations of calcium deficiency in newborns.

Moreover, calcium levels in a child’s body are interconnected with other substances, such as magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. Low levels of these substances in the blood can also contribute to calcium deficiency in children.

Additionally, genetic factors can play a role, such as abnormalities in chromosome number 22 out of the 23 pairs, which can cause conditions like DiGeorge syndrome. Congenital hypothyroidism is also among the potential causes of calcium deficiency in infants.

It is important for parents to consult with healthcare professionals to accurately diagnose the cause of calcium deficiency in their child. Through proper medical evaluation and assessment, appropriate treatment and management strategies can be implemented to address the underlying causes and support the child’s health and development.

Please note that this information is for educational purposes only, and specific medical advice should be sought from a qualified healthcare provider.

Risk factor

You are correct that signs of calcium deficiency in babies often occur in premature or low birth weight infants. In this group of children, the main cause of calcium deficiency is the underdevelopment of the thyroid gland.

Babies who experience slower-than-normal growth in the womb are at a higher risk of severe hypocalcemia because less calcium is transferred across the placenta from the mother.

In addition to these factors, manifestations of calcium deficiency in infants can also occur when the mother has diabetes. Maternal diabetes can affect the baby’s calcium metabolism, leading to lower calcium levels.

It’s important to note that calcium deficiency in babies can have significant implications for their health and development. Prompt medical attention and appropriate management are crucial to ensure the baby receives the necessary treatment and support.

If you suspect that your baby may have calcium deficiency or any other health concerns, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and guidance.

How much calcium do children need daily?

Calcium is indeed measured in milligrams, and the amount of calcium needed by children varies depending on their stage of development. Here are the recommended daily calcium intake levels for different age groups:

For infants:

  • Babies under 6 months: They typically need around 300 mg of calcium per day, which is primarily obtained from breast milk.
  • Babies aged 6 to 11 months: Their calcium requirements increase to more than 400 mg per day. Breast milk or formula that closely resembles the composition of breast milk is the recommended choice for calcium intake during this period. Cow’s milk should not be used as the main milk source for infants under 1 year old, as it can increase the risk of calcium deficiency symptoms.

For older children:

  • Children aged 1 to 3 years: They require approximately 500-600 mg of calcium per day to support bone growth and development.
  • Children aged 4 to 8 years: Their calcium needs increase to about 600-700 mg per day.
  • Children aged 9 years and older: They need around 1000 mg of calcium per day to support ongoing bone growth and maintenance.

It’s important to note that these are general guidelines, and individual calcium needs may vary. A well-balanced diet that includes calcium-rich foods such as dairy products, leafy green vegetables, fortified foods, and calcium supplements if necessary, can help children meet their calcium requirements for optimal growth and development. Consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian can provide personalized guidance on meeting a child’s specific nutritional needs.

Where does calcium come from?

When children are diagnosed with calcium deficiency, it is crucial for parents to seek advice from experts and doctors regarding appropriate nutrition. Calcium is naturally present in various foods, and incorporating these calcium-rich foods into a child’s diet can help address the deficiency. Some foods that are naturally high in calcium include:

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese

The fat percentage in milk and other everyday foods does not affect the calcium content or composition. For example, milk with 1% or 2% fat will still provide similar amounts of calcium. It is recommended that parents consult a nutritionist to choose the most suitable milk for their children.

Additionally, there are other foods that are relatively high in calcium, such as:

  • Tofu
  • Soy milk
  • Broccoli and other green leafy vegetables
  • Nuts
  • White beans, red beans, and chickpeas
  • Oranges, figs, and plums

Since calcium is vital for children’s growth and development, parents should pay careful attention to their children’s daily meals, especially milk for infants and young children. Regular check-ups and following expert advice regarding diet, specific food preparation, and techniques to increase breast milk quality and quantity, if applicable, are essential.

For a comprehensive guide to calcium supplements for babies, it is recommended to consult a doctor or healthcare professional who can provide specific guidance and recommendations tailored to the child’s needs.


In general, experts recommend several solutions to help infants and young children effectively supplement calcium:

  • Sun exposure: Exposing your child to sunlight in the morning can increase the production of vitamin D in the body, which aids in calcium absorption. It is important to consult a doctor for specific guidance on sun exposure based on your child’s age.
  • Breastfeeding: Breast milk is a valuable source of nutrients, including calcium. If the mother is unable to breastfeed, it is recommended to use an appropriate formula milk that is suitable for the baby’s age. Cow’s milk should not be given to newborns and infants.
  • Calcium-rich meals: Alongside breast milk or formula, introduce calcium-rich foods into your child’s diet. As your baby transitions to solid foods, include sources of calcium in their meals.
  • Prompt medical attention: If a child experiences convulsions, it is important to seek immediate medical care. Medical professionals can administer timely measures, such as calcium infusion, if necessary.

These manifestations of calcium deficiency in infants and young children may resemble symptoms of other health conditions. Therefore, it is crucial for parents to take their children to the doctor if they observe the aforementioned symptoms. Paying close attention to even the smallest changes in children’s health allows for early detection and treatment, without compromising their overall development.

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