Is my picky eater getting enough protein?

If your little one turns their nose up at the sight of chicken or roast beef, you may be worried your picky eater isn’t getting enough protein in their diet. While they may not be eating animal based proteins, you may be surprised to learn that protein can be found in most foods. Keep reading below to find out if your picky eater is in fact eating the right amount of protein.

Why is protein so important?

Without enough protein, your child’s body will have a hard time growing and functioning properly. If that doesn’t show how important protein is for your little one, think about this; if they don’t get enough their muscles wouldn’t contract, and their immune system would shut down. Whoa!!

Okay, so now that you understand WHY it’s so important that you make sure your little one gets the right amount protein, let’s talk about how much they need.


How much protein does my child need to eat each day?

Not as much as you likely think they do!!

Remember how I said at the beginning that protein is found in most foods? That right there is good assurance that if you are offering your child variety and they are eating intuitively they are likely getting all the protein they need.

If it’s numbers you’re looking for, your child needs roughly:

2-3 servings of protein each day


13- 19 grams of protein each day (those aged 1-8 years old)


0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight

If all those numbers did was give you anxiety focus on this instead...

Don’t focus on the numbers at all. Forget I even mentioned them. Instead focus on:

  • offering variety at meals and snacks. Learn more about snacks here.
  • providing a protein source with at least two to three meals or snacks each day.
Is my child getting enough protein?

What does one serving of protein look like?

A serving size of protein is about equivalent to:

  • 1/2 cup milk 
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 Tablespoon of nut butter
  • 1 ounce of meat
  • 1/2 cup of peas or beans
  • 1/2 slice of whole grain bread
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 cheese string or 1 ounce of cheese 
  • 1/2 cup cooked whole grain rice
  • 2 Tablespoons of nuts and seeds
  • 1/4 cup of yogurt (Greek yogurt having the most protein)
  • 1/2 cup of whole grain cereal or oatmeal
This list isn’t conclusive as you’ll see below their are so many more sources of protein.

What sources of protein are there that my picky eater will ACTUALLY eat?

When it comes to protein, time and time again, I hear from parents just like you that they CANNOT get their little one to eat meat.

But remember what I said before, protein can be found in so many more foods than beef, chicken, turkey, and fish. And when it comes to protein and your  picky eater every bite counts.

Instead of focusing so much on what they aren’t eating right now, shift your attention on adding more protein to foods they already eat.

Think about it like this:

  • Should I add shredded cheese on top of something, or offer it on the side?
  • What about adding chia or hemp seed to this?
  • Can we swap out some bread, crackers, or cereal out for one that has a bit more protein?

Protein rich recipes to get you started

No-Bake Energy Bites

High protein snack for picky eaters, an energy bite

Energy bites are basically granola bars in ball form. If your kids are anything like mine, food in the shape of a ball are always a hit.

Check out the recipes here:
My Kids Lick the Bowl: Carrot Oat Energy BitesApple Oat No Bake Bites

All Recipes: No-Bake Energy Bites

Protein packed muffins

Protein packed muffins for your picky eater

Unlike your ordinary muffins, these ones are packed with protein. How you ask? A secret ingredient: lentil puree.

I promise you can’t taste the lentil at al! Give these recipe a whirl.

Check out the recipes here:
Lentils: Banana Lentil Muffins & Blueberry Oatmeal Lentil Muffins

Crunchy snacks that accommodate any flavour preference

If your picky eater loves crunchy foods this one will hit it out of the ball park! From dill pickle and ketchup flavours, to honey and cinnamon these little, crunchy legumes will sure to be a hit!

Check out the recipes here:
Pulses: Roasted chickpeas 5 ways

Super Healthy Kids: Kid friendly roasted chickpeas 4 ways

Now that you know what you know....

Is protein and your picky eater still a concern now that you know it’s found in most foods and they likely don’t need to eat as much as you think they did?

What other questions do you have about helping your little eater want to eat more protein? Post your questions in the comments below.


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