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6-Best High-Protein foods for Toddlers & Kids

Ensuring a balanced diet for your children is an important part of their growth and development. One of the most important nutritional components is protein, you may wonder if your child is getting enough.     

The good news is that everyone should consider the important role that protein plays in the body. Incorporating a variety of high-quality protein sources into your children’s diet even if you are a picky eater will help ensure that your body has everything it needs for energy, growth, and a strong immune system.

Firstly, protein deficiency in kids is extremely rare in the U.S. but parents have to realize that not all protein sources are created equal, explains expert pediatricians at Quick MD pediatric clinic & health care hub.  Choosing high-quality and healthy sources help your toddler or kid be healthy and strong.

Our acclaimed pediatric doctors share their insights on the 6-best high-protein food sources to make sure that your toddler/kid receives enough healthy protein for optimal growth and nutrition. 

Power of Protein 

Protein is an essential nutrient of our diet and it is responsible for performing crucial functions of the body, and most people are aware that muscles contain proteins. Another known fact is that the building blocks of protein, also known as amino acids, make up almost all cells in the human body. It is also used to transport other molecules around the body.     

In general, protein is important because it digests faster than carbohydrates, makes you full, and is a long-lasting source of energy. 

Protein is an essential nutrient that:

  • Helps boost energy levels 
  • Helps kids’ bodies growing
  • Builds strong muscles 
  • Aids in repairing injuries 

About 10% to 20% of the calories we consume each day must come from protein. Protein is contained in many different types of foods, therefore it is easy to meet the daily protein recommendations. 

Toddlers/Kids’ Protein Needs

The protein requirements vary by age, sex, weight, and physical activity on the age and weight of the children. When children reach the age of 14, the protein recommendations for boys and girls are the same. In their later teens, boys eat more protein because they gain more muscle mass and tend to weigh more than girls. 

Here is a quick reference as to daily protein recommendations for kids:

  • Children ages 1-3: require 13 grams 
  • Children ages 4-8: require 19 grams 
  • Children ages 9-13: require 34 grams
  • Girls ages 14 -18: require 46 grams
  • Boys ages 14-18: require 52 grams

It is good to know the recommended amount of protein a child needs every day, but it does not mean forcing a child to eat. A child grows and develops over several meals a day. You should know if your child is getting enough protein. 

6-Best Protein-rich Foods for Kids
Rice cereals, applesauce, and pumpkin puree often come to mind when we think of baby food. But your toddlers need protein and can’t wait to be introduced to meat, poultry, and other plant-based sources of protein.

  1. Beans & Lentils
    Beans and lentils are great sources of plant protein, which are easy to serve too. Choose low-sodium, rinsed, and drained beans. Mash them to a smooth puree with a fork or food processor until slightly diluted, like breast milk or formula or you can also mix with a fruit or veggie puree. For older babies, experiment with them as finger food. Mash the fruits and vegetables into a puree.
  2. Beef
    Beef is rich in iron, zinc, and protein and an excellent first food for babies. Start with minced meat that is browned on the hob. It is best served with mixed vegetable purée such as sweet potatoes, cauliflower, or broccoli.
  3. Eggcellent Eggs, Chicken & Turkey
    Eggs are a great source of protein, whether scrambled or hard-boiled. Try scrambled eggs, 2 whole wheat waffles, sliced or boiled eggs in a pita & vegetables, or make an egg salad sandwich from a combination of half yogurt and half mayonnaise.

    Tender turkey meatballs, which are cut into small pieces, are excellent as finger food, as are soft fried chicken, which can be torn into smaller pieces. Puree-cooked poultry and serve with apple or pear sauce.

  4. Tofu
    Tofu is a convenient, inexpensive,& smart addition to baby food, whether vegetarian or not. Mix Silk Tofu with fruit purée to make a sweet meal or you can also bake tofu triangles until they become firm enough to serve as finger food.
  5. Fish
    Full of brain-building omega-3 fatty acids and proteins, fish is healthy for babies. Avoid species with a high mercury content and opt for species such as salmon, cod, trout, mackerel, and sea bass. Cook in puree or flakes or as soft finger food.
  6. Peanut Butter
    Pediatricians recommend serving babies peanut products to ward off peanut allergies. Spread some peanut butter on toast or strips and stir in the peanut butter puree. Never offer your toddlers nut butter or whole nuts on a spoon, as both can be choking hazards.
  7. Yogurt
    For babies usually, cow’s milk is not recommended until they are about one year old, but it is okay to introduce yogurt immediately. Stick to Greek yogurt for more protein, but be sure to buy the simple variety to avoid extra sugar. Mix Greek yogurt with fruit puree to create a creamy note.

    Spoon a layer of Greek yogurt (about 2 times as much protein as regular yogurt) , spread some fresh fruit and then spread some crunch cereals or cereal and repeat the exercise.

    Talk to our pediatrician if you have any questions about introducing solids into your baby and you can also reach out to us for the best pediatric services in Mckinney, Texas.

Protein-rich foods your kids may like:   

  • Protein-packed waffles
  • Parfaits
  • Dips-Hummus with veggies or pita, yogurt with fruit/pretzels
  • Nacho bites-add a sprinkle of cheese or spoon of beans/meat of your choice

Does your child need protein powder?

Children usually get enough protein from their diet. protein powder, supplements, or shakes are not recommended unless your child has a specific need.
It is a better and healthier approach to teach your kids the importance of a healthy and well-balanced diet that does not rely on shortcuts.

The pediatricians at Quick MD Care are here to help parents develop nutrition plans that are best for their children. Our team of pediatric doctors offer expert knowledge, expertise and can coordinate diets for common & complex medical conditions, our well child-care services help you create healthy habits for your children that last a lifetime.

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