Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, who often prefer simple carbohydrates over high protein foods. Finding toddler-friendly, easy-to-eat foods that are high in protein can be challenging. Good toddler protein sources include meat, poultry, eggs and beans. Check with your pediatrician about introducing new foods and potential food allergies, particularly to peanuts.
Cheese, milk, yogurt and cottage cheese are all valuable protein sources for toddlers. Opt for full-fat versions for toddlers under 2 years old. You can increase the protein in dairy foods by stirring non-fat dry milk into regular milk or cream based soups and sauces, recommends Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, or use yogurt and fresh fruit to make a healthy and toddler-friendly smoothie. Sixteen ounces of milk, plus just 1 ounce of meat each day, will provide the 16 grams of protein toddlers require each day, according to consulting nutritionist Sue Gilbert at iVillage.com.
Eggs are an easy option to provide toddlers with plenty of protein, with 6 grams in a single egg. Add eggs to other dishes or serve them on their own. Try coloring scrambled eggs orange or green by stirring in a healthy vegetable puree, recommends WhatToExpect.com. Slice hard boiled eggs into wedges, or canoes, suggests AskDrSears.com.
Beans are a versatile addition to your toddler's diet. Serve bean dips or purees with pita bread, fresh or steamed vegetables or whole-grain crackers. Add beans to a tortilla for a simple burrito or quesadilla or serve them on their own as a finger food for young toddlers, recommends WhatToExpect.com. You can opt to purchase canned beans or cook your own to reduce the total sodium count. Beans are not only a good source of protein, but also an excellent source of fiber.
Peanut butter is a toddler favorite and an excellent source of protein. Spread peanut butter or other nut butters thin to avoid the risk of choking, suggests WhatToExpect.com. If peanut or tree nut allergies are a concern, soy or sunflower butters are available in many stores and have a similar flavor and texture.
Lean meats and poultry are an excellent source of protein and iron, reports WhatToExpect.com. If your toddler enjoys meat, you probably have few concerns about protein consumption. If he does not, try hiding ground chicken or turkey breast in pasta sauce or chili, making meat balls or cutting sliced meats with cookie cutters.