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Protein for Kids Types and Benefits for Growing Bodies

Protein for Kids: Types and Benefits for Growing Bodies

Medically Reviewed by: Dr. S.M. Pandey DCH, DNB Paediatrics

As parents, we all want the best for our children, and a big part of that is making sure they’re eating right. Protein is like the building blocks for their bodies, helping them grow strong and healthy. In this blog, we’ll break down everything you need to know about protein for kids, from what it is to why it’s so important. Whether you’re a seasoned parent or just starting on the parenting journey, we’ve got you covered with easy-to-understand information and practical tips to ensure your little ones get the protein they need to thrive. So, let’s dive in and learn more about how to fuel your kids for a bright and energetic future!

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Understanding Protein

Protein stands as a crucial nutrient, indispensable for a multitude of bodily functions, including muscle formation, hormone production, skin and bone strength, and nutrient transportation. Its significance extends to supporting the immune system, regulating blood sugar, fostering growth, and facilitating muscle development. As a macronutrient, protein not only furnishes energy but also acts as a fundamental building block for bones, muscles, organs, and skin. Its role in wound healing, maintaining fluid balance, and facilitating cell repair and growth, particularly during childhood, cannot be overstated.

Here’s a breakdown of the daily protein requirements for children:

  • Toddlers (1-3 years): 0.8 g,/ kg / day
  • Children (4-8 years): 19g per day.
  • Children (9-13 years): 34g per day.
  • Teens (14-18 years):
    • Boys: 52g per day
    • Girls: 46g per day.

Types of Protein for Kids

Exploring Protein Sources for Kids: Animal-Based Proteins

When it comes to nourishing kids with protein, we typically look at two categories: animal-based and plant-based. Let’s delve into the world of animal-based proteins, focusing on their significance in supporting children’s growth and development.


  • Examples: Beef, pork, lamb, and meats.
  • Nutritional Benefits: Packed with high-quality protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12, crucial for fueling growth, boosting energy, and promoting overall health.
  • Considerations: Opt for lean cuts to trim down saturated fat intake.


  • Examples: Chicken and turkey.
  • Nutritional Benefits: Rich in protein, plus vitamins and minerals like niacin and selenium.
  • Considerations: Choose skinless options to cut back on saturated fat.


  • Examples: Salmon, tuna, tilapia.
  • Nutritional Benefits: Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, vital for brain development and heart health.
  • Considerations: Pick fish with lower mercury levels, especially for children.


  • Nutritional Benefits: A fantastic source of protein, vitamins, and minerals like choline, essential for brain function.
  • Considerations: Ensure thorough cooking to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses.


  • Examples: Milk, yogurt, cheese.
  • Nutritional Benefits: Rich in calcium, vitamin D, and protein, crucial for strong bones and growth.
  • Considerations: Opt for low-fat or non-fat options to keep saturated fat in check.

These animal-based proteins furnish a complete array of essential amino acids, pivotal for children’s growth, muscle development, and overall well-being. By incorporating a diverse range of these protein sources into a child’s diet, we ensure they receive the vital nutrients required for optimal growth and development.

Also Read: Breastfeeding Basics: A Guide for Indian Mothers

Plant-based proteins

Plant-based proteins offer a plethora of nutrients and can serve as excellent protein sources for children. Here are examples of plant-based proteins, along with their nutritional benefits and considerations:

  1. Beans and Lentils:
    • Nutritional Benefits: Abundant in protein, fiber, folate, potassium, and magnesium.
    • Considerations: It’s advisable to soak dried beans before cooking. Experiment with various types such as moong beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, and more.
  2. Nuts and Seeds:
    • Nutritional Benefits: Rich in healthy fats, fiber, vitamins (like vitamin E), and minerals.
    • Considerations: Opt for raw unsalted nuts and natural nut kinds of butter without added salt or sugar. Integrate them into meals or snacks for a balanced diet.
  3. Tofu:
    • Nutritional Benefits: Contains protein, and antioxidants, and some varieties are fortified with calcium.
    • Considerations: Tofu is versatile in cooking; utilize silken tofu in smoothies or soft tofu in dishes like rice or sandwiches.
  4. Plant-Based Milk:
    • Nutritional Benefits: Some plant-based milks are fortified with essential nutrients like calcium and vitamin D.
    • Considerations: Check labels for fortified options to ensure your child receives the necessary nutrients.

Plant-based proteins are valuable components of a child’s diet, providing essential nutrients for growth and development. By incorporating a variety of these sources into meals and snacks, parents can ensure their children receive adequate protein intake while enjoying the benefits of a plant-focused diet.

Benefits of protein for your child

Protein is crucial for children’s growth and development, offering various health benefits:

  1. Muscle Building: Protein is vital for building, maintaining, and repairing tissues, essential for muscle development.
  2. Cell Growth: It promotes cell growth and regeneration, aiding in blood replenishment, wound healing, and the growth of hair and nails.
  3. Metabolism Support: Proteins provide enzymes and hormones crucial for maintaining a healthy metabolism.
  4. Immune System Strength: Proteins strengthen the immune system, helping fight off disease-causing bacteria and viruses by acting as antibodies.
  5. Energy Production: When carbohydrates are scarce, proteins can be used by the body to produce energy, serving as an alternative energy source.

Protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and tofu offer essential nutrients necessary for children’s overall health. Ensuring children receive adequate protein intake is vital for their growth, muscle development, immune function, and overall well-being.

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  1. Why is protein important for children?
    • Protein is crucial for muscle building, cell growth, metabolism support, immune system strength, and energy production.
  2. What are some protein-rich foods for kids?
    • Foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and tofu are excellent sources of protein for children.
  3. How does protein benefit muscle development in kids?
    • Protein aids in building, maintaining, and repairing tissues, which is essential for muscle growth and strength.
  4. Can protein help with children’s immune systems?
    • Yes, protein strengthens the immune system by assisting in fighting off disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
  5. What happens if children don’t get enough protein?
    • Inadequate protein intake can lead to stunted growth, weakened muscles, compromised immune function, and low energy levels in children.

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