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Protein for Kids

Protein is an important nutrient that provides essential amino acids that helps children grow and develop properly. Protein is a part of every cell in the body and helps to build and repair muscle, tissue, skin, nails and hair. Protein also helps to build hormones, enzymes and a healthy immune system.1

How much protein does my child need?2

The amount of protein a child needs depends on their weight; however, the chart below can be used to find generally recommended amounts.

Protein Needs (grams/day)

Infants (0-6 months)


Infants (7-12 months)


Children (1-3 years)


Children (4-8 years)


Children (9-13 years)


Females (14-18 years)


Males (14-18 years)


Almost 100% of Canadian children aged 1-8 years had protein intake within recommended ranges.3 Healthy kids can meet their protein needs by eating a variety of healthy foods.


Can my Child Eat too Much Protein?

Eating too much protein can be harmful. A diet with excess amounts of protein can cause:4

  • Dehydration
  • Loss of calcium from the body
  • Kidney damage
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Build-up of toxins in the blood

What Foods contain Protein?

  • Best sources: Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu
  • Good sources: Legumes, nuts, nut butters, seeds, seed butters, milk, cheese, cottage cheese, soy beverages, yogurt
  • Contain some protein: Whole grain breads, rice, pasta, quinoa, barley

Telehealth Ontario

Do you have questions about food and healthy eating? Call Telehealth Ontario and speak to a Registered Dietitian. It's free!

  • 1-866-797-0000
  • Monday to Friday 9am-5pm
  • Translation services are available

How to Include Protein in your Child’s Diet

  • Offer milk to drink at most meals and snacks.
  • Include lean cuts or fat trimmed meat and lean or extra lean ground meats.
  • Serve fish at least two times per week.
  • Offer whole-grain ceral or oatmeal with nut or seed butters. If age appropriate, add slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds or other nuts/seeds.
  • Make a hearty lentil vegetable soup for lunch.
  • Offer hummus and raw vegetables for snack.
  • Cook a bean chili that’s loaded with vegetables.
  • Try adding tofu to a stir-fry with a variety of vegetables.
  • Offer yogurt, cottage cheese or nut butter on whole-grain toast for a snack.

 If you are concerned about the amount of protein your child eats, talk to a Registered Dietitian or your doctor.

Date of creation: November 12, 2018
Last modified on: February 21, 2019


1Dietitians of Canada – Unlock Food. (2017, May 1). Introduction to Protein and High Protein Foods. Retrieved from
2Health Canada. (2006, August 03). Dietary Reference Intake Tables. Retrieved from
4Sheehan, K. (2017, October 3). What if my Child is Getting Too Much Protein? Retrieved from