Ask any kid who goes to school about proteins and they will be quick to tell you its elementary definition. As per the definition taught in school, proteins are the basic building blocks of life. So, it doesn’t come as a surprise that proteins are given primary importance among all nutrients. And, is considered to be especially important for kids during their growing years. So, it is important to introduce this body-building nutrient into your child’s diet as soon as possible. Here, we bring you some of the plant-based as well as animal-based sources of protein that can prove to be beneficial to your kids:
Other than water, soybeans are said to be majorly composed of proteins. In fact, it is considered to be one of the best plant-based sources of proteins (1). You can, in fact, even opt for soymilk, especially if your little one is lactose intolerant. While it may provide as many nutrients as that of animal milk, it might steer clear of the indigestion issue that comes with the latter. You can also give your kids soy yogurt, which has a rich protein content too.
2. Other Beans And Lentils
Legumes, which comprise both beans and lentils, are known to be a good replacement for animal-based proteins. Essentially, this means that it is one of the best vegetarian sources of proteins out there (2). The cherry on the cake is that it is easy to serve too. Just mash it until it becomes smooth and then you can mix it with vegetable puree or even soup. This is something that works for a younger baby. In case, your kid is slightly older, you can also experiment with beans that are softly cooked.
Go for the white poultry meat such as chicken for great, lean protein. Dark meat can be a little higher when it comes to its fat content so you can steer away from it. Also, saturated fat is present on the skin, so you can also remove the skin before you cook chicken (3). Perhaps, you can take a soft, roasted chicken and break it into small pieces. Or, you can add its broth in the soup and serve it to your kids.
Like cottage cheese is made from animal milk, tofu is prepared from the soymilk. As discussed above, it is one of the best plant-based sources of proteins. It is both convenient and not that expensive. It is a good addition to the little one’s diet, whether or not he/she is a vegetarian. You can bake tofu until it becomes firm and then serve it as finger food to your kid.
Yet another excellent animal-based protein source, seafood is amazing because it is also a little low when it comes to the fat content. Also, the omega-3 fatty acid content makes it a healthy addition to the diet (4). Just try to steer away from seafood that is high in its mercury content and you are good to go. You can cook it in the form of a puree or just serve it as soft finger food to your munchkin.
Not only are dairy products such as yogurt and cheese a good source of protein, but they also contain other nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D that are quite beneficial (5). You can always stir yogurt in one of the fruit purees for a deliciously creamy treat. Also, try to opt for a plain variety of yogurt so as to steer away from artificial sugars.
Also, if you are wary about introducing solid foods into your baby’s diet, you can always consult your pediatrician to understand the when’s and how’s of it. Additionally, if you can think of any other protein source, be it plant-based or animal-based, do share with us in the comments section below!