Proteins come in all kinds of shapes and are responsible for most of our bodily functions, such as transporting oxygen through our body and building tissue. They are the building blocks for our hair, nails, skin, muscles and all inner organs. We find proteins in every single cell of our body. Protein is also one of the three main sources of energy, next to fat and carbohydrates. Given their ubiquitous importance, we should make sure our little ones eat the right type of protein.
Proteins are made up of amino acids. Roughly half of them are produced by our body itself. The other half needs to be provided from food, we call them ‘essential’ amino acids. In addition, children cannot produce all non-essential amino acids in sufficient amounts and have, therefore, slightly different protein requirements than adults.
Meat, eggs and dairy are animal proteins and have a very similar protein composition to our body. For a long time, we considered these protein sources as superior to plant-based ones, because they contain all the essential amino acids.
All plant-based sources contain protein but some of them don’t contain all the essential amino acids at once. If you eat a wide variety of plant-based food, you will still meet all your protein requirements. It can be beneficial to combine different plant-based protein sources throughout the day or even in one meal, e.g. beans and rice. Quinoa, buckwheat and tofu are excellent sources of ‘complete’ protein - meaning they contain all essential amino acids.
Babies should have one to two portions of protein per day, making up about 10-15% of their calorie intake.
At Little Tummy, we make sure to meet your little one’s protein requirements in almost every meal. We use quinoa as a source of plant-based protein as well as full-fat yoghurt.