Everyday Nutrition: Protein for Toddlers


Protein for Toddlers

My family is freaking out about our 2-year-old not getting enough protein even though she’s very healthy! What can I say to put them at ease?

When will this myth die?! I have yet to work with any vegan client who was not meeting or exceeding his/her daily protein requirement. The research does not support the belief that vegan children are at any higher risk for a protein deficiency than omnivore children. Anecdotally-speaking, the only children I have counseled with low protein intakes were obese omnivore children eating way too many “empty calories” in the form of carbohydrate-rich junk food and juice.

A 2-year-old’s requirement for protein is 1.3-1.4 grams for every kilogram of body weight. On average, this is around 18 grams of protein per day. If the child is eating well and growing well, then it is highly unlikely that a protein deficiency would arise. Let’s take a look at how easy it is for a youngster to eat 18 grams of protein in one day:

1/4 cup of tofu(5 grams of protein)

1/4 cup lentils(4.5 grams of protein)

1/2 cup pasta(3.5 grams of protein)

1/4 cup peas(2 grams of protein)

1/4 cup broccoli(1.5 grams of protein)

1/3 cup oatmeal(2 grams of protein)


Protein can be found in beans, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and grains. It is clear that we don’t need to eat animals to ensure that our protein needs are being met—even for those rapidly growing toddlers!

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Disclaimer: Although Anya Todd, R.D. and Kara Rienzo, R.D.N. are registered dietitians, the nutrition content provided on is for educational and informational purposes only. Any or all changes to your diet and lifestyle should always first be discussed with your professional healthcare providers. assumes no responsibility or liability for any consequences resulting directly or indirectly from any action or inaction you take based on the information found on or material linked to on this website.

Posted in Advice Columns, Everyday Nutrition, Infants & Toddlers (0-3)

Anya is a registered, licensed dietitian with more than a decade of experience in clinical settings, research, education, and community outreach. Currently, Anya is pursuing a graduate degree in Sustainable Food Systems. When not working or studying, she runs the Mid-Ohio Animal Welfare League, a volunteer-operated nonprofit that provides foster care to medically needy companion animals and brings low-cost vet services to under-served areas. Read more about Anya.