Written by Editorial Team
If you’re a parent of a toddler, ensuring that they are eating enough, gaining weight correctly, and overcoming fussy eating tendencies may be at the top of your mental to-do list. No parent wants their kid to fall behind on the growth chart. If your toddler is a fussy eater or refuses to eat certain items like egg, milk etc. then ensuring that they eat enough protein in a day is a tough task. In such a scenario protein powder for toddlers can be a good alternative.
Protein is responsible for so many things in the body like, building muscles, strengthening bones, maintaining health of skin, hair and nails, supporting body’s immune system etc. In case your toddler is not consuming adequate protein and you are worried about it, you can opt for protein powder. This article will shed light on all you need to know about choosing the best protein powder for toddlers, including why do doctors prescribe supplements, how much protein powder your kid needs, and more.
In This Article
Protein is the building block for bones, cartilage, muscle, and skin, and it heals and develops tissue in your toddler’s body. It also controls hormones, functions as part of a digestive enzyme, and aids in the transport of oxygen throughout the body. It’s a macronutrient, like carbs and fat, and it’s something your toddler needs to survive. Protein is, without a doubt, essential for both toddlers and adults.
If a kid is not getting adequate amount of protein in their diet, then they may face issues like slow growth, decrease in body’s immunity, fatigue, etc (1). Hence, it is imperative to make sure that your toddler is getting adequate protein in their diet.
For every kilogram of body weight, a toddler requires 0.5 gram of protein (2). For instance, if your toddler weighs 12 kgs they would require around 6 grams of protein in a day. One thing to remember is that the protein requirement for kids vary. Some kids may need more and some may need less, depending upon a host of factors.
Also note that one should not feed extra protein to the toddler. Including extra protein in your toddler’s diet, without first consulting with the doctor may lead to problems later in life (3). So better consult with the doctor before deciding to increase your toddler’s protein intake or opting for supplements like protein powder.
Do keep in mind that a protein supplement may contain up to 80 grams of protein each serving, which is far too much for a toddler to consume. Therefore, select a healthy smoothie that is appropriate for your child’s size.
Protein powder for toddlers, as the name implies, is mostly composed of proteins, which are a necessary component of the human body. Whey, soy, and casein protein powders are the most common forms of protein powder for toddlers. While toddlers may ingest all three, physicians often prefer whey protein. This is a water-soluble milk protein that contains necessary amino acids (4) that are important for a kid’s growth and assist your toddler in getting the proper quantity of protein.
First of all, let us clarify that protein from food sources is the best option. So, go for supplements only if your doctor recommends it. The doctor will only suggest protein powder for toddlers if the little one is unable to get it from whole foods. Doctor may suggest protein powder for toddlers if-
It is highly suggested not to opt for a protein powder without a doctor’s prescription as more than required protein levels can lead to side effects like digestive issues, dehydration, kidney damage (5), and loss of calcium from the body (6).
[Read : Is My Toddler Underweight?]
Whether it is safe to give protein powder to toddlers depends on various factors. If a toddler is eating balanced meals and is having a variety of food items in their diet, it is more than enough. Then they don’t need any additional supplements for protein in their diet. Supplementing protein in your toddler’s meals is not necessary as protein deficiency is very uncommon in kids. Since they are eating several food items their daily protein requirements are covered through that only.
Unless your toddler has some medical issue which makes it necessary for them to take in extra protein, there is no need for protein powder. In such a scenario, their doctor will only prescribe the supplement and its dosage. Please do not give protein powder on your own as it will do more harm than good.
There are different types of protein powders available in the market these days. Before starting with protein powder for toddlers, it is best to check with the doctor on which type of protein powder to go for. The different types of protein powders available are-
This form of protein for toddlers is also known as the “complete” protein since it contains all of the essential amino acids that are necessary for a toddler’s bodily growth. Because whey protein powder for kids is made from cow’s milk, it’s great for kids (7). As soon as the protein reaches the toddler’s circulation, the creation of leucine, an amino acid, begins. But, high dosage of whey protein can cause side effects such as- bloating, digestive discomfort, headache, fatigue etc (8).
Casein protein powder (7) for toddlers is also made from milk. Although it lacks all of the amino acids listed above, it is also more difficult to digest, particularly for young kids. As a result, your toddler may feel fuller for longer than normal after consuming casein powder.
Soy protein powder (7) for toddlers has several advantages. But, when it comes to supporting muscle protein synthesis, soy protein is not that effective as animal protein (9). Soy is the most widely used plant protein which can be safely consumed by those who are lactose intolerant or allergic to animal protein. While kids should consume soy products like soybean, tofu, etc. over consumption is not recommended. Consuming excess soy can lead to issues like gastrointestinal problems and in few kids, it can also lead to increased risk of Kawasaki disease (10).
[Read : Kawasaki Disease in Children]
Before deciding upon the best protein powder for your toddler, there are several factors which should be considered, like-
While making a protein shake or smoothie is a popular use for protein powder, most protein powders are versatile enough to be used in a variety of other ways. Here are some suggestions-
If you want to incorporate protein powder for toddlers in the diet, then you must first determine which powder is ideal for them, as well as the amount of protein required. It’s crucial to choose a protein powder with as few components as possible, without added sugars or artificial additives. And as always before including protein powder in your kid’s diet, check with the doctor whether it is required or not, and correct dosage as well. Remember, best thing is to provide nutrition to your kid through a balanced diet. But, if your toddler is a fussy eater or rejects certain foods, there is no harm in opting for alternatives.
Giving protein powder to make up for less protein intake in your toddler’s diet is often not necessary. Try and give variety of foods which are rich in protein like, seafood, milk, soybean, tofu, eggs, lentils, etc. to your kid. Including a variety of food will ensure that your toddler will not get bored and will end up eating at least something from the choice of food items they get. A toddler doesn’t need too much protein in their diet (2) and their daily requirement is often made up through the foods they eat.
Like any other food item, protein powder too can cause allergy in a toddler (11). Protein powder is made up of different ingredients. If the kid is allergic to any of those ingredients, they might get an allergic reaction after consuming it. To avoid this, it is better to always check the label for the ingredients. Also, if it is prescribed by the doctor, consult with them on how to give it to your toddler without causing an allergic reaction. More often than not they will prescribe an alternative.
Kids usually get enough protein from their diet. If they are eating a well balanced meal, it will cover up for their protein requirements. However, if a kid is into athletics and sports which require hard physical activity, they may need some extra dose of protein. In such a case the doctor or a nutritionist will prescribe the supplement and the dosage required by them after doing an examination.
Protein deficiency means that the kid is not getting enough protein through their diet. Protein deficiency is very uncommon. But it may show up in some cases like, if a kid has some medical condition, they follow a vegan or vegetarian diet etc. In most of the cases this deficiency can be met through a balanced diet. However, in medical conditions, their doctor may prescribe supplements. Protein deficiency may show up in a kid as slow growth, anemia, water retention or edema, weak muscles etc(12).
With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.
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