High protein foods for baby

Best Proteins for Babies – Happiest Baby

By Gabrielle McPherson, MS, RDN, LDN

You might think of babies as mini bodybuilders…though they’re far from pumping iron, they make incredible gains during their first year of life! Babies triple their size by 12 months, and that massive amount of growth requires plenty of nutrition (especially from protein).

When introducing solids, many parents’ first instinct might be to load Baby up with fruits and veggies. And while, yes, fruits and veggies offer lots of valuable nutrients, they come up short on the protein babies need. On average, your babbling bundle needs about 11 grams of protein daily, which can be broken down into one to four tablespoons servings between 6 months and 12 months of age.  

So, alongside those carrot and spinach purees, make sure you’re serving up plenty of muscle-building proteins too. A good place to start? These 10 protein-rich foods that will help support your baby’s growth and development.


Though your baby isn’t quite ready for sushi or sashimi, fully cooked salmon is a perfect match. Salmon boasts lots of potassium, brain-building choline, and—you guessed it—protein! Two tablespoons of salmon contains a whopping 5.6 grams of protein. The pink fatty fish is rich in omega-3s, to boot, which supports your little one’s vision, brain, and nerves. And good news for busy parents: There’s no shame in offering canned salmon, which has higher amounts of bone-friendly nutrients like calcium and vitamin D!

Ground Beef

Though many parents may feel nervous about offering babies meat, know that beef is a gold-mine of good nutrition. Beef contains must-have nutrients for babies, including iron for healthy blood cells and anemia prevention, zinc for an immunity boost, and choline for brain power. To serve, brown some raw lean ground beef on your stove until no pink parts are left. You can puree the meat while it’s hot and moisten with water, breastmilk, formula, or a low-sodium broth. Blending beef with pureed veggies or rice is another option, too! Two tablespoons of ground beef supplies 5.5 grams of protein. 


A popular first food, chicken doesn’t disappoint nutrition-wise because it’s a healthy source of niacin for energy, selenium for healthy skin and heart tissues, and protein for growth. You can prep cooked chicken by shredding, pureeing, or cutting it into tiny pieces. Create your own baby-food blend by pureeing chicken with green peas or pears. 

Peanut Butter

There was a time when parents held off on introducing peanut butter out of concern that their little one would have an allergic reaction. Now, there’s evidence that introducing peanut butter early can lower the chances of developing a peanut allergy. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, your baby can benefit from eating peanut butter at around 6 months of age.

However, straight peanut butter is too thick and sticky for babies and can pose a choking risk. So, before offering peanut butter to your little eater, thin it with breastmilk, formula, or pureed fruit. When possible, stick to varieties that are low in sodium or salt-free. Babies have immature kidneys, which can become overloaded with too much salt.  One tablespoon of peanut butter gives your babe 3.5 grams of muscle-building protein. 


There isn’t much to eggs-plain, as eggs are famous for their protein benefits (two tablespoons of eggs have 2.7 grams of protein). They also contain choline for your baby’s brain health. Thoroughly cook eggs by scrambling them on your stovetop, you can make your scramble softer by whisking your raw eggs with breastmilk or formula milk before cooking. Babies who are eating finger foods can try a cut-up omelet or hard-boiled egg.


Tofu is an easy-to-munch nutrient powerhouse, making it a great food for infants. In addition to serving up 1.8 grams of protein, tofu is excellent source of calcium to protect your baby's teeth and gums. You can offer small pieces of soft tofu or puree with fruit for a creamy snack that’s sure to fill little tummies.

Cottage Cheese

Add some new textures to your wee one’s diet with cottage cheese. Two tablespoons of cottage cheese give your babe 1.6 grams of protein. The dairy-based food loads your little one up with calcium, choline, and vitamin A for those developing peepers. Stick to lower sodium varieties with under 100 grams of sodium per serving. Serve cottage cheese plain or mix it with mashed sweet potato or a fruit puree.

Greek Yogurt

While cow’s milk is a no-no for babies until they reach 12 months, yogurt is fair game. Greek yogurt is one of the most protein-wealthy yogurts and is a good source of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous to nourish your babe’s growing bones. Two tablespoons of Greek yogurt contain 1.4 grams of protein. Offer your mini muncher plain whole milk Greek yogurt mixed with some pureed fruit for a spoon-able snack.


Lentils are easy-to-digest plant proteins that are a must-have food for babies because they’re brimming with nutrients like iron, calcium, phosphorus, calcium, choline, and folate, as well as 1. 1 grams of protein. Before cooking, rinse and sift through raw lentils to remove any possible debris from harvest, making them safer for your tiny nosher to nibble.


Quinoa grains are soft-cooked edible seeds. They’re chock-full of nutrients like folate and iron for your baby’s developing brain. Quinoa is considered a complete protein. That means it’s packed with all nine essential amino acids the body cannot make on its own but relies on to support rapid growth. There’s a natural coating of saponin on quinoa that you’ll need to rinse off before cooking as it can have toxic effects and a bitter taste. Boil quinoa seeds in water or a low-sodium chicken or veggie broth for extra flavor. Two tablespoons of quinoa have 0.5 grams of protein. 

More advice about feeding babies:

  • Happiest Baby's Feeding Guide
  • Best Puree Recipes for Babies
  • What to Know About Baby Led Weaning
  • Best Foods for 6- to 9-Month-Olds
  • Best Foods for 10- to 12-Month-Olds

About Gabrielle McPherson

Gabrielle McPherson, MS, RDN, LDN is registered dietitian in Missouri who specializes in community and pediatric nutrition. Gaby is passionate about encouraging families to eat well in simple, practical ways that are realistic...and delicious! When not working, Gaby loves cooking, baking, and making messes and memories with her sous-chef/preschooler Charlotte.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.

10 Protein-Rich Finger Foods for Baby-Led Weaning

When your baby is starting solids it’s tempting to stick with fruits, vegetables, and grains like cereals or toast. But, babies need other nutrients, like protein and fat in their diets too. These mostly single-ingredient, protein-rich finger foods are an easy place to start.

There are good reasons to add protein-rich foods to your little one’s daily diet, beyond, well, the protein. First, if your little one is breastfeeding, at about six months she will need added sources of iron and zinc in her diet. (Formula is fortified, so if your baby is formula-feeding, this is less of a concern.) Iron and zinc are both crucial minerals for your baby. Iron allows blood cells to carry oxygen to muscles and organs and is key for brain development. Zinc is important for a strong immune system.

And, many protein-rich foods also happen to be good sources of iron and zinc, such as tofu, lentils, beef, chicken, and eggs. Keep in mind that the iron and zinc from animal sources is more easily absorbed than that from plant sources.

Protein-rich foods, especially dairy products, can also be full of beneficial fats (which babies need for vitamin absorption, satiety, and brain development) and other nutrients like calcium and Vitamin D. Just a reminder that babies shouldn’t drink cow’s milk as a primary beverage until age 1, but it’s a-ok to serve them yogurt and cheese.

Finally, when your baby is starting solids she’s also taste-training. If you introduce meat and/or other protein sources now, she’s more likely to continue to enjoy them as she gets older. Remember, your child will never be more open to new flavors than she is now, so take advantage!

If you’re spoon-feeding, consider stirring whole-milk Greek yogurt into fruit or vegetable purées for a kick of protein. And, of course, meat, fish, bean, and lentil pureés are also great sources. To get started you can try these recipes: Baby’s First Fish Dinner and Red Lentil and Spinach Purée, both from Real Baby Food.

But, what if you’re practicing baby-led feeding? Good news–there are lots of easy options! Here are my favorite, mostly single-ingredient options.


10 Protein-Rich Finger Foods for Baby-Led Weaning

  1. Cooked and flaked fish, such as cod or omega-3-rich salmon; spritz with lemon for extra flavor.
  2. Chickpeas or other beans, lightly smashed. If canned, choose low or no-sodium beans and rinse well and drain.
  3. Lentils. This will be messy, but your baby can pick them up by the handful. Or, smash with olive oil and smear on toast.
  4. Baked or poached and shredded chicken breast or thigh. This is especially nice tossed with a little veggie purée.
  5. Slow-cooked or pressure-cooked beef, pork, or lamb (RELATED: How to Prep Meat for Baby-Led Weaning)
  6. Chopped hard-cooked eggs, yolks and whites
  7. Shredded medium-firm cheese, such as cheddar, mozzarella, or Monterey Jack
  8. Cubed firm tofu
  9. Chopped meatballs or ground meat patties
  10. Toast strips spread with peanut butter, almond butter, ricotta cheese, cream cheese, or hummus (RELATED: 15 Toast Toppers for Babies and Toddlers)

Remember that finger foods need to be a safe texture and size to help prevent choking. They should be soft enough to be mashed with gentle pressure between your thumb and forefinger. In terms of size, they should either be shredded, cut into strips about the size and length of your pinky finger, or cut into chickpea-sized pieces.

Looking for more baby-led weaning ideas and family feeding tips? Sign up for my newsletter! As a thank you for signing up, I’ll send you three of my favorite healthy smoothie recipes for the whole family. I look forward to being in touch!

Jenna Helwig
[email protected]

Proteins in baby food: quantity, products, composition, dishes

The main building material of the body - proteins . With a lack of protein in the diet, children cannot grow up healthy. In this case, not only their physical development and growth is delayed, but also their mental development. Children who do not get enough protein often get sick, get tired quickly and study worse than their peers. Only against the background of a sufficiently high level of protein in the nutrition of children in their body are the best conditions created for the normal functioning of all its systems. nine0003

How much protein should children of different ages eat daily?

To ensure normal growth and development of the body, a child aged 1-3 years old should receive 4 g of protein per kilogram of body weight, at the age of 3-7 years old - 3.8-3.5 g of protein, student - 3-2.5 per kilogram of body weight. In this case, it should be taken into account: the younger the child, the greater the proportion in his food should be occupied by proteins of animal origin. So, in the diet of toddlers, proteins of animal origin should be approximately 70 percent, preschoolers - at least 60 percent, in the diet of schoolchildren - 50 percent in relation to the total amount of protein consumed daily. nine0003

How are proteins digested in the body? How do proteins work?

Of course, you are interested in which foods contain more protein ? But before talking about this, it is necessary to inform that the protein molecule is built from various "chemical building blocks" - amino acids. Some of them are synthesized by the body itself, but most of them are obtained from food (the latter are called irreplaceable).

Entering the body, food proteins are broken down into their constituent parts - amino acids , from which the body builds its proteins . In doing so, the greatest miracle of turning the dead proteins of food into living proteins of the body is performed. This living protein forms protoplasm and cells; metabolism takes place in it.

Food proteins are distinguished by the diversity of their amino acid composition. In this regard, the body gets the opportunity to select the most necessary building material for it at the moment.

Since different amino acids are found in different foods, in order for a growing organism to receive a complete set of the building material it needs, food must be varied. nine0003

Where to get proteins: products, meals

The most valuable proteins are found in meat, fish, eggs, and milk. However, the proteins of plant foods are necessary for children. Together with proteins of animal origin, they create the best complexes of amino acids used by the body for growth processes. In addition, the proteins of plant products (bread, cereals, pasta, etc.) help maintain nitrogen balance in the body. Therefore, cereals and vegetable dishes must be combined with meat, fish, eggs, milk, and dairy products: cottage cheese, cheese and others. For example, oatmeal or buckwheat porridge with milk is very useful: the amino acids of these cereals and milk together give a valuable combination. nine0003

All “white porridges” (rice with milk, semolina with milk and others) are also necessary for children, especially babies.

An extremely valuable product prepared for consumption by nature itself is milk.

Babies from 1 to 3 years old need 700 ml of milk per day (in any form). Children from 3 to 5 years old need 600 ml. Pupils must receive at least 500 ml of milk per day. Only for sick children, on the recommendation of the attending physicians, the consumption of milk can be limited. nine0003

Eggs from one and a half years old can be given to a child daily, but not more than one per day. However, if they cause allergies, they should be temporarily excluded from the menu.

Meat in the diet of a child 2.5 - 5 years old is provided in the amount of 80-100 g, in the diet of 7-10-year-olds 140 g, at 11-13 years old 175 g, and finally at 14- 17 years old 220 g per day. At the same time, it is given not only in the form of minced meat or cutlets, but also boiled and fried, as well as in the form of sausages, low-fat sausage or ham. Instead of meat, periodically fish dishes should be included in the diet of children. nine0003

However, oversaturation of the diet of children with an excess amount of protein , especially of animal origin, should not be allowed. This leads to indigestion, breakdown of tissue proteins, toxicosis and other serious disorders. It must be borne in mind that the child's body is not able to deposit proteins and must completely consume them. Excessive intake of protein in the body causes a great stress of metabolic processes.

Source: “ABC of Nutrition and Education”, S. I. Elkina

How much protein do you need and where to get it - 10 high protein foods

Proteins or proteins are essential for the functioning and repair of tissues throughout the body. Protein deficiency leads to muscle atrophy and dysfunction of the human body as a whole. In this article, we will talk about how much protein an adult needs and which foods contain the most protein.

Proteins at a glance

Proteins, like fats and carbohydrates, are macronutrients that the human body needs in large quantities. Vitamins and minerals are called trace elements. The peculiarity of protein is that the human body is not able to store it, therefore, you need to monitor how much protein you consume with food. nine0003

Protein is needed primarily for the formation of muscles, bones and other tissues, as well as for good skin and hair. In addition, proteins form many of the important amino acids that the human body needs to process food.

Proteins are necessary not only for athletes, but also for those who want to lose weight: regular consumption of high-protein foods (eg cottage cheese, milk) helps to speed up the metabolism.

According to Wikipedia, the protein norm for women is 58 to 87 grams per day, for men - from 65 to 117 grams per day. nine0003

If you don't eat enough protein, the following happens:

  • Metabolism slows down.
  • It becomes difficult to lose weight, as well as build muscle.
  • Decreased energy level, increased fatigue.
  • Concentration problems begin.
  • Mood fluctuates.
  • Muscles and joints hurt.
  • Changes in blood sugar levels.
  • Wounds heal slowly. nine0096
  • Reduced immunity.

On the other hand, an excess of protein also does not have the best effect on the state of the body. The human body cannot store excess protein in reserve, therefore, the load on the liver, which is responsible for protein processing, increases.

Foods high in protein

1. Cottage cheese

One of the leading foods in terms of protein content is, without a doubt, cottage cheese. For example, 100 grams of cottage cheese 0% fat TM "Yagotynske" contains 18 grams of protein with an energy value of 94 calories. You can make a lot of desserts, dishes and healthy drinks with cottage cheese (for example, you can add cottage cheese to fruit and vegetable smoothies or make a coffee smoothie with cottage cheese for breakfast).

Read also: 10 reasons why you should add cottage cheese to your diet

2. Other types of cheese

Cottage cheese is far from the only cheese product that is high in protein. Other types of cheese based on cow's milk also contain a lot of protein: parmesan, mozzarella, Swiss cheese, cheddar, Adyghe, and many others. For example, in 100 grams of "Mozzarella" TM "Yagotinsky" - 22 grams of protein with an energy value of 330 calories, in cheese "Adygeisky" - 17.5 grams of protein with an energy value of 235 calories. nine0003

Read also: 10 delicious cheeses that you should try today

3. Protein sourdough

Specialists of the Yagotinsky Butter Plant have developed a new sour-milk drink Sourdough PRO, which is distinguished by a reduced fat content (0.5%) and a high content of milk protein . If in a regular sourdough milk protein content is 2.8%, then in PRO Sourdough it is not less than 4.5%. In addition, protein sourdough contains probiotic strains (Lactobacillus acidophilus La-5, Bifidobacterium BB-12), thermophilic lactic acid organisms (Streptococcus thermophilus) and Bulgarian bacillus (Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus). nine0003

Protein starter comes in a 450 gram bottle containing at least 20 grams of protein. PRO sourdough is available without fillers and with strawberries.

See also: Lose weight deliciously - 10 products for those who follow the figure

4. Meat

Of course, meat contains protein. In 100 grams of chicken or turkey fillet - 30 grams of protein, lean beef - 36 grams, pork - 30 grams, rabbit meat - 21.5 grams. Read about how to cook meat deliciously in our articles 4 best recipes for cooking rabbit in sour cream - from simple to exquisite and Cooking meat like a chef: chicken, beef and lamb with mozzarella. nine0003

5. Fish

100 grams of tuna or salmon contains about 20 grams of protein. In addition, fish contains many vitamins (A, groups B, D and E), the youth and beauty vitamin biotin, as well as trace elements (potassium, phosphorus, selenium) and useful omega-3 acids.

6. Egg white

One egg white is an average of 4 grams of protein, 100 grams of egg white - 11 grams of protein. For information on what to cook with eggs, read our article 5 of the most delicious omelet recipes with milk. nine0003

7. Milk

Cow's milk is the most useful product, which contains calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D. With milk, you can cook oatmeal, semolina and rice porridge, omelettes, pancakes with milk, soups and much, much more. If you don't like milk on its own, try milk smoothies or milk shakes. In 100 grams of milk with a fat content of 2.6% - 2.8 grams of protein (that is, in a liter of milk - 28 grams of protein).

Read also: 15 reasons why you should drink milk every day

8. Yoghurt

Specialists of the Yagotinsky Butter Plant have developed a new type of yogurt - "Turkish", which has a high nutritional value due to the high content of fat and protein. There are 128 calories and 3.

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