Food and Nutrition

Role of Protein in Toddlers' Development

Shilpa Bhattacharyya
1 to 3 years

Created by Shilpa Bhattacharyya
Updated on Sep 29, 2018

Role of Protein in Toddlers Development

Protein is one of the vital nutrients in toddler’s food. Proper intake of protein is very important in early stage of development. It acts as a powerful punch for boosting energy levels in the child and also initiates and build muscles early on. They are the building blocks and are required for brain and muscle development to ensure that the kids’ bodies grow and any ongoing injuries are repaired.

Protein also helps in development of bones and repairing tissues which have grown old in our body. But it is very important to know how much a toddler needs the protein in a day and what are the rich sources of Protein.

How Much Protein to a Toddler?

Only 10-20% of calories need to come from protein, so it’s not hard to get enough. Requirements depend on your child’s age and weight.

  • Age 1-3 - 13 grams
  • Age 4-8: 19 grams
  • Age 9-13: 34 grams
  • Girls at the age of 14-18 - 46 grams
  • Boys at the age of 14-18 - 52 grams

Sources of Protein

Milk is one of the rich sources of Protein. Around 1 cup of milk has 8 grams of protein apart from this other sources are soy milk, eggs, cheese peanut butter, lean meats, fish and poultry beans, tofu, lentils and other legumes, grains, bread and pasta Nuts and seed based protein fortified foods, like cereals.

Eggs are very rich source of protein and for non-vegetarians chicken is also a good option. For vegetarians incorporating lentils in daily food and veggies like broccoli and other leafy vegetables will do the job. Around 100 gms of green leafy vegetables gives around 1.4g of Protein, 100gm Potato has 2g of Protein. Sprouts and Mushrooms are also one of the good sources of Protein . 

One of the common issues toddlers come when they are picky eaters and do not consume protein rich foods. They are notoriously picky eaters, who often prefer simple carbohydrates over high protein foods. Finding toddler-friendly, easy-to-eat foods that are high in protein can be challenging. So here are few dishes we can offer them:

  • Grilled cheese sandwich – Cheese is a good source of protein and bread (whole grain) is also rich in protein. The combination of the two adds more to the plate.
  • Scrambled eggs with cheese – Eggs are one of the richest sources of proteins. Feeding an egg a day helps to keep up the protein level.
  • Pasta with chicken – If the family is non-vegetarian then adding slices of chicken to common preparations like Pasta can boost up the protein level.
  • Rajma or Kidney beans – Apart from usual lentils cooked in the house, rajma and Kidney Beans can add more protein to the child’s platter.

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