Protein for Children: Health Benefits, Requirement & Food Sources

Protein for Kids – Benefits, Requirement & Foods

Medically Reviewed By
Megha Mukhija (Paediatric Nutritionist)
View more Paediatric Nutritionist Our Panel of Experts

Children are selective when it comes to foods, but getting them to eat a well-balanced diet (and explaining the importance of a nutritious diet) is one of the prime responsibilities of a parent. Your child needs to eat a nutritious diet for his proper growth and development. And one important part of his diet should constitute protein. You need to keep a track of your child’s protein intake because protein is a must for kids in their growing years. Read on to know how much protein your child needs, the benefits of protein for kids, and more.

Video : Protein for Kids – Importance, Requirement and Foods

Benefits of Protein for Kids

Read on to know why your child’s diet should include protein-rich foods.

1. It helps builds muscles.

Protein helps in building, maintaining and replacing tissues in the body. Protein is the building block of life and the most important nutrient for building muscles.

2. It promotes the growth of cells.

Protein is necessary for the generation and regeneration of cells in the body. It aids in blood replenishment, heals wounds, and also regulates the growth of hair and nails.

3. It helps boost metabolism.

Protein, in the form of enzymes and hormones, ensures that the metabolism of the body remains in a healthy shape.

4. It helps strengthen the immune system.

Protein can help keep a child’s immune system strong and thus help him fight off disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Protein works as antibodies that provide assistance to the immune system.

5. It helps in the production of haemoglobin.

Protein helps in the production of haemoglobin which is an important component of the blood as it helps to carry oxygen to all parts of the body.

6. It is a good source of energy.

The body needs carbohydrates to produce energy. When there is a shortage of carbohydrates, the body can use proteins to get calories and produce energy.

Strong kid

How Much Protein Do Children Need?

A child’s protein requirements depend on his body and his age. Since protein is an important nutrient for your child, it is necessary to ensure that your child’s ideal protein requirements are met on a daily basis.

Listed below is the protein required for kids of different age groups:

  • 0 to 6 months of age: 6.7 grams of protein every day
  • 6 to 12 months of age: 8.8 grams of protein every day
  • 1 to 3 years of age: 13 grams of protein every day
  • 4 to 8 years of age: 19 grams of protein every day
  • 9 to 13 years of age: 34 grams of protein every day

Which Are the High Protein Foods for Kids?

To ensure that your child gets enough protein through his diet, you can consider including the following protein-rich foods in his diet.

1. Dairy Foods

Dairy food

Milk and milk products such as cheese, curd, yoghurt and cottage cheese are a healthy source of protein. Ensure that your child has sufficient amounts of dairy products daily.

2. Eggs


Eggs are a rich source of protein and perfect for your little one. A hard-boiled egg or omelette in breakfast is sure to give a power-packed start to your child’s day.

3. Meat


Lean meat items such as skinless chicken have protein in abundance. Tasty chicken curry or a chicken starter will provide ample protein nourishment and good taste to your child.

4. Plant-Based Sources of Protein


For those of you who are strictly vegetarian, you can give plant-based food items such as peanut butter, soymilk, tofu, nuts, legumes, soy yoghurt, and seeds to your kid. They are not only healthy and filled with protein, but also taste good. 

Tips to Make Your Child Eat More Protein-rich Foods

Making sure that your kid eats nutritious food can be difficult. Children tend to be inclined towards junk food (which excites their taste buds) and avoid good food. The best way to make your child eat nutritious food is by mixing up regular food items with food that is tasty, yet healthy in order to draw a balance between taste and nutrition.

Here are tips to make tasty yet high protein snacks for kids which they will relish and also get nourished.

1. Start your Little One’s Day with a Protein-rich Breakfast

Breakfast is an important meal of the day, so make it nutritious and tasty for your child. Some protein-rich options that your child would love to eat include dal cheela, paneer paratha, paratha with curd, and paneer sandwich. Your child is sure to love these tasty breakfast options and will get a good dose of protein through them.

2. Make Chicken a Little More Exciting

The best way to get your child to eat some veggies is by making a patty out of chicken or cottage cheese and stuffing it between two pieces of buns and making a burger. Flavour it with a tangy sauce and your child will relish it.

3. Ensure Evening Snacks are Filled with Proteins

When your child asks for evening snacks, let him have protein-rich snacks like milkshakes, yoghurt, cheese, nuts or hummus.

4. Make a Protein-rich Dessert

We all enjoy eating sweets, and we’re sure your child enjoys them too. And when he asks for a dessert, you wouldn’t want to say no. So how about you make a healthy, protein-rich dessert for him? Your little one will relish the dessert and you can stay assured that he is getting protein. You can make milk pudding, quinoa pancake, lentil pancake, etc. They are a good source of protein! You can even give him homemade besan ke laddu and fruit yoghurt.

5. Add in a Surprise Element

Quinoa, amaranth, seeds, nuts are all becoming popular snack options, thanks to their nutritional qualities. They are a good source of protein, potassium, zinc, and iron. So prepare delicious food using these delicacies. You can add apricots, amaranth, and pistachios too in whatever you make. The recipe will look tempting and your child will love it.

It is very important to provide sufficient protein to a growing child. It is a key element in muscle building and cannot be ignored. With a little bit of innovation in your child’s daily diet, it is possible to fulfil the body’s protein requirement.

Also Read: Calcium-Rich Foods for Children

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