Proteins for baby can be a difficult topic to figure out. If you’re starting out with baby led weaning, proteins can be even more confusing. Keep reading to learn all about how to add more protein to your little’s diet.
With all of my babies, I’ve found it super easy to introduce fruits and vegetables. A quick perusal down the produce aisle, grabbing some new items and old favorites and BAM. we’rre good.
But for somer reason, when it comes to proteins, I freeze up and panic. I usually end in a rabbit hole of knowledge that overwhelms me. In an effort to avoid that for you, I’ve compiled the ultimate guide to protein and babies.
First things first, why do babies need protein packed diets?
The Abbot group informs us that protein is a vital aspect of a child’s diet to promote growth and development.
The macronutrient is essential to bodily functions, the growth, repair, and recovery of muscles, skin, organs, blood and more. Of the 20 amino acids in protein, the human body can only make 9 of them, so it’s vital we assist in this process to promote healthy growth.
Okay, so how much protein does a baby need?
Obviously, it’s going to vary by age and size of your child. You should always talk to your pediatrician about minimums for your particular child, but a good rule of thumb is 11 grams of protein for babies 6-12 months.
How to get those essential proteins in?
If you’re using purees with your baby, this can be a bit easier. Just check out the list below to make sure you’re including plant or animal proteins in your purees.
If you’re practicing baby led weaning, I’m covering some good sources of protein and how best to serve them with BLW.
Plant based proteins for baby:
- Beans. If using canned beans, grab a sodium-free version. Smush the beans to make them safe for babies, or serve in a burger or patty style.
- Lentils are great as part of a soup. Also, try cooking in a tomato sauce for a plant protein-packed “bolognese”.
- Bean based dips, like hummus.
- Tofu. A great, basic option that is super soft for babies. It’s a blank slate for new flavors as well.
- Nut butters. A glob of nut butter is a choking hazard for bitty babes, but a light smear on bread, toast, or fruit is great
- Bean burgers. You’ll want to make sure if you’re not using a homemade version to check the sodium levels. Cut the patties into long strips.
- Baby Cereal. Storebought baby cereal is typically fortified to include iron and protein.
- Chia seeds. I love serving baby chia pudding – it’s great for babies 6 months+.
- Quinoa. It might be tough for babies to pick up, but a quinoa cereal similar to oatmeal or quinoa cakes are great option.
- Pasta. Many pastas include protein, believe it or not! There are also high protein options on the market now.
- Peas. Pea protein is super popular right now, but it’s also a great, sweet option for babies to hit their nutritional milestones.
There are also numerous veggies with protein, including avocado, greens, and asparagus.
Animal Proteins for Baby
Of course, animal based proteins are typically what we think of first when thinking of protein. Here are some options.
- Whole milk yogurt. Check for no sugar options with the least ingredients.
- Cheese. Always check for sodium levels. We love salt free cottage cheese and ricotta cheeses.
- Eggs. Hard-boiled eggs cut into long quarters are great for little hands. Omelets, frittatas, and even scrambled eggs are other great options.
- Cooked chicken. I like to serve rotisserie or roast chicken breast. It breaks into perfect chunks that babies can easily gum.
- Steak. Sliced against the gain super thin, baby can gum it without teeth.
- Ground meat. Whether it’s served loose, like tacos to in something like meatloaf, meatballs, or burgers, it’s a great option. Just try to form any meat into easy stick shapes (or cut it!).
- Shredded meat. Food like pulled pork or braised chuck is great for baby! Just check the seasonings to be baby-friendly.
As always, go with what works for YOUR family and have a conversation with your pediatrician about your child’s needs and feeding plan.