Strong Bones for You and Your Baby

There are actions you can take to keep your bones strong during and after pregnancy and to make sure that your growing baby builds strong bones, too. Eating a bone- healthy diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding is very important. There are programs that can help you get the foods you and your baby need to eat a bone-healthy diet. These foods provide calcium, vitamin D, calories, protein, and colorful fruits and vegetables.


Getting enough calcium is necessary during pregnancy and after your baby is born so your baby's bones will grow in density (thickness) and to help keep your bones strong, too!

Foods that are rich in calcium include:

  • Dairy products: milk and cheese
  • Non-dairy beverages with calcium added: calcium fortified juices or calcium fortified soy beverages
  • Green leafy vegetables: bok choy, broccoli and broccoli rabe, dandelion greens, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens
  • Cereal with calcium added
  • Tofu with calcium added

To make sure that you get enough calcium:

  • Be sure to include foods that can help you get 3 to 4 servings of calcium rich foods each day.
  • Have a calcium rich food at each meal and snack because your body uses calcium best when it is eaten at different times during the day.
  • Speak to your healthcare provider if you think you do not get enough calcium in your diet. Your healthcare provider will help you decide if a calcium supplement is needed, how much is needed, and which supplement is right for you.

Vitamin D

During pregnancy and after your baby's birth you need enough vitamin D to keep your bones strong and to make sure your baby's bones grow strong.

  • You need 600 IU (International Units) of Vitamin D each day during pregnancy and breastfeeding. An 8-ounce cup of milk, juice, or soy beverage with vitamin D added. To get the recommended amount of vitamin D, you should drink 6 cups of these beverages each day.
  • Many women cannot get the recommended amount of vitamin D from diet alone. During pregnancy and while breastfeeding, it is important to take a prenatal vitamin to get the recommended amount of vitamin D as well as other important nutrients. During the first year of life, your baby needs 400IU of vitamin D each day to build strong bones.
  • If you choose to bottle feed your baby, it is important to know that most infant formulas have 400IU of vitamin D in each quart (32 ounces). If your baby is drinking less than one quart of formula daily, additional vitamin D is necessary. Speak to your baby's healthcare provider to discuss how much formula your baby drinks and to find out if vitamin D drops are needed. You may need a prescription.
  • Breast milk is rich in nutrients and the preferred choice for infant feeding. Breastfed and partially breastfed babies may need to be given a supplement of drops containing 400IU of vitamin D. Drops need to be given for as long as you continue to breast feed or until your baby is weaned and drinks 1 quart (32 ounces) of formula each day. It is important to speak to your baby's healthcare provider to get a prescription for vitamin D drops.

When your baby is one year old, the recommendation for vitamin D increases to 600 IU each day. It is often hard for young children to get this much vitamin D in the food they eat. It is important to talk to your baby's healthcare provider to find out if a multivitamin is recommended.

Calories and Protein

You will want to include foods in your diet that provide the calories (energy) and protein you need during pregnancy and breastfeeding to fuel your body and to keep your bones and muscles strong. Programs like WIC (Women, Infants and Children's Supplemental Nutrition Program) provides milk, cheese, eggs, peanut butter, tofu, and beans as sources of protein.

Fruits and Vegetables

Eating more fruits and vegetables each day is good for your bones and for your overall health, too. It is best to choose a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Darkly colored vegetables and fruits tend to be richer in nutrients.

Actions for Strong Bones

Besides eating a bone-healthy diet, there are other actions you can take to keep your bones and your baby's bones strong.

  • Don't smoke and if you do smoke, find out how to quit by calling The New York Smokers Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS.
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
  • Move more – Be physically active each day following the guidelines of your healthcare provider during and after pregnancy.
  • The Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC) provides supplemental healthy foods, health and nutrition information and referral sources. For more information call the Growing Up Healthy Hotline 1-800-522-5006.

At your next visit, speak to your healthcare provider about how to keep your bones and your baby's bones strong for life. For more information visit the New York State Osteoporosis Prevention Education Program (NYSOPEP) website, , Your Resource for Healthy Bones.

©NYSOPEP, 2012