How Protein Fuels Child Development

How Protein Fuels Development

Sub Heading

Protein is critical for children's growth and development. Is your child getting enough of it?

Main Image

Alt text

JUN. 04, 2020   3 MIN. READ

From infancy through adolescence, kids need protein to support rapid growth, development and immune health. Yet, research shows that many kids' protein needs go unmet. In fact, as many as one in seven school-aged children in the U.S. fall short of their recommended daily protein targets.1

Here's how to tell if your child is getting enough protein, how to easily add more to their diet, and why this nutrient is so essential for their physical growth and immune health. 

What Is the Role of Protein in Child Development?

Found in every cell of the body, protein plays a critical role in child development. On a basic level, protein is crucial because it serves as the raw material for building tissues, such as muscles, skin and bones. Protein is a key component of antibodies that protects the body against illness and helps keep your child's immune system strong.

What Happens When Kids Miss Out on Protein?

Though we all require protein to stay healthy and strong, it's especially important to ensure that children are getting a enough . That's because childhood is a period of exponential growth. To support this rapid growth and development, kids require more protein per pound of body weight than during any other time in their lives.

If you're not sure what your child’s protein needs are, this quick guide from  The National Academies of Sciences can help:

  •  1- to 3-year-olds should get at least 13 grams a day.
  • 4- to 8-year-olds should get at least 19 grams a day.
  •  9- to 13-year-olds should get at least 34 grams a day.

But, how can you tell if your child is getting the right amount of protein? When kids fall short of their protein recommendations, they may experience fatigue, poor concentration, delayed growth, bone and joint pain, or difficulty fighting infections. Several factors make it challenging for kids to consume enough protein, including a lack of appetite, feeding difficulties and even picky eating behaviors.

So, what's the best way to ensure your child doesn't fall short in getting this all-important nutrient? First things first, you'll want to look at their diet.

How To Promote Protein in Your Child's Diet

Luckily, protein is found in many foods. However, the most complete sources of protein are those considered high quality, which means that they provide all essential amino acids to the body. Examples of foods containing high quality protein are red meat, poultry, fish, milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, tofu and other soy products. These foods are rich in protein building blocks called amino acids, which support growth, a healthy immune system and many other critical body functions.

Offering protein-rich foods with every meal and snack can help ensure your child consumes a sufficient amount of protein. Ideally, your kids will get all the protein they need from a healthy, balanced diet. But, as any parent knows, children don't always eat what's in front of them.

How Supplements Can Help Kids Get Enough Protein

When children behind in growth aren’t getting enough nutrition, especially protein,  from their diet alone, talk with your pediatrician who may recommend an oral nutrition shake such as PediaSure® to help support your child’s growth and deliver other key nutrients to help support their immune system.

PediaSure is a tasty nutrition shake that can easily be paired with your child's breakfast, lunch or dinner. It comes in six kid-friendly flavors and can be added to fun recipes like muffins, smoothies and pudding to boost their protein content. With 7 grams of protein per serving and 27 essential vitamins and minerals, PediaSure Grow & Gain can help you fill nutrition gaps in your child's diet.

If you're concerned that your child is behind in growth and isn’t consuming enough protein for optimal growth, consider reaching out to their pediatrician who can suggest options to add protein to your kid's diet or refer you to a registered dietitian for further guidance.


1. Data on File, December 2018. Abbott Nutrition. NHANES data analysis. 1 in 7 school-aged kids defined as 6-13 years. National Academies of Science's RDA for protein ranges from 13-34g daily in children.

2020 Year of the Parent

Main Image

Alt text


2020 is the year of the working parent. In many ways, the impact of COVID-19 forced parents into a new reality. Juggling children, working from home, trying to find childcare and ensuring e-learning has challenged families like never before.

And while a global pandemic has pushed working parents' challenges to new heights, something else has bubbled up. 

How Nutrition for Kids Plays a Pivotal Role in Emotional Well-being

Main Image

Alt text


For years, health experts have observed that undernourished children are more likely to experience behavior problems, struggle in school and have difficulty keeping up in the workplace as adults. While these challenges are multifaceted, feeding your child a balanced diet may help.

But, what does optimal nutrition for kids look like? Here are some best practices to consider when crafting a nutritious diet for your child, so they stand to benefit from all the cognitive and energy benefits that come with eating right. 





Complete, Balanced Nutrition® that helps kids grow—with protein, DHA omega-3, and vitamins minerals.


Subscribe Policy

I understand and agree that the information I’ve provided will be used according to the terms of Abbott’s Privacy PolicyTerms and conditions apply.

Unless otherwise specified, all product and services names appearing in this Internet site are trademarks owned by or licensed to Abbott, its subsidiaries or affiliates. No use of any Abbott trademark, tradename, or trade dress in the site may be made without the prior written authorization of Abbott, except to identify the product or services of the company.

Please click "Accept Sale/Sharing and Targeted Advertising" to enable full site functionality.

At this time, we are experiencing problems with broken links on our site. As an interim solution, for full site functionality you must enable functional and advertising cookies. If you continue to opt-out of these cookies, some content on our site may not be viewable.

We use functional cookies to analyze your use of the site, improve performance and provide a better customer experience. We use advertising cookies to allow us, through certain data assigned and obtained from the user's device, to store or share with third parties information related to user's browsing activity in our website, in order to create an advertising profile and place relevant advertising in our website or those third parties websites. For more information about how Abbott uses cookies please see our Cookie Policy and Privacy Policy.

In order to accept functional and advertising cookies, please click "Enable Cookies" and then click "Accept Sale/Sharing and Targeted Advertising" to view the full site.

Learn more about cookies