Protein is the building block of life. The importance of protein right from birth cannot be underestimated. Proteins do everything from providing energy, pulsing muscles, helping the children’s bodies grow and repair injuries. Let’s find out how much protein children need and how to get them to eat sufficient protein.
Why Is Protein Important For Children?
Infants are fast growing into active children and getting sufficient protein is especially important for their proper growth.
- Growth: Protein is an important part of every cell in the human body and its importance in the diet of a baby and infant cannot be neglected. It is necessary for the baby’s growth and development, especially all throughout childhood when the child is fast-growing, and when his bones and muscles and strengthening.
- Repair: Protein is important to help repair the cells and tissues of the body as it is an important component of each cell.
- Energy: Protein provides the child’s body the much-needed energy as each gram of protein contains about 4 calories. A child who eats a diet with adequate protein will be active and energetic.
Also read: What Is Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy?
How Much Protein Children Need
It is recommended that children between the ages of 4- 13 need approximately 1 gram of protein for every kg of body weight. So a 15 kg child needs about 15 gms of protein per day. It is pretty easy for the child to meet his daily protein requirements from a well-balanced daily diet. Let’s find out how easy it is to meet a child’s protein requirements at home, from both vegetarian and non-vegetarian sources?
- A glass of milk (220 ml approx) contains about 8 gms of protein
- 1 tablespoon of peanut butter has approx 5 gms of protein
- 3 ounces (85 gms) piece of meat has 21 gms of protein
- A 200 gm container of regular yogurt has approx 10 gms of protein
- 1 egg has about 6 gms of protein
- 1 cup of chickpeas has approx 12 gms of protein
- 1 cup of beans has approx 15 gms of protein
- Nuts and seeds are also a rich source of protein
These are just some of the sources of protein. The other major sources of protein include:
- Soya – all sources of soya including soy milk, flour, and beans
- Pulses (Dals)
- Grains including bread and pasta
- Vegetables like spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, peas
Also read: How Much Protein Does Your Child Need? (6 Months To 3 Years)
How To Ensure Your Child Is Getting Sufficient Protein?
- Children can be notoriously picky eaters. Here are some tips to sneak-in sufficient protein in their diet.
- Babies who are being introduced to solids for the first time can be given mashed dal (lentils) which is light on the stomach and high on nutrients including protein.
- If your child avoids milk, get creative with yogurt instead. Make simple parfait by spooning in a layer of Greek yogurt, then a layer of fresh fruit and repeat. Sprinkle on some fortified cereal for a protein snack that looks and tastes like dessert. Make it in a transparent glass and your kids will love it.
- Incorporate paneer which is an excellent source of protein in your meals. You can make innumerable creative and tasty dishes with paneer for all meals – paneer parathas for breakfast, paneer kathi rolls for their lunch boxes, paneer ki sabzi for dinner and so many more.
- Eggs are great protein sources. Make a scrambled egg sandwich (scrambled eggs between two mini whole-grain waffles or bread). You can also make pancakes with egg and fruit in the batter.
- Peanut butter is another excellent source of protein and is a favourite of most kids. Top pancakes and waffles with a dollop of peanut butter instead of syrup. Make a peanut butter milkshake or the all-time favourite peanut butter sandwich.
- Children also love cheese which is a major protein source. Grill some cheese sticks and offer them with peanut butter dip as a snack.
Also read: Foods rich in protein (6 Months to 3 years)
Points To Note:
- Children should get their daily protein from natural food sources. If a child is getting 2 servings of dairy a day from milk, cheese, yogurt and at least one serving of proteins from vegetarian or non-vegetarian sources, their protein requirements should be met adequately.
- Children do not need any additional protein supplements in the form of protein powders or energy bars.
- You could, however, offer athletic children homemade dry-fruit or granola bars to meet any additional protein requirements.
- The important thing to remember is to achieve nutritional balance through the course of the day. Even if every meal does not meet the nutritional requirements of every food group, the entire day’s meal plan can.
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