My Son Isn't Eating Any Protein...

Updated on March 23, 2011
R.D. asks from Richmond, VA
17 answers

My 15 months old is my picky eater. He won't eat any kind of meat (even if I try to hide it in other foods), no beans, no peanut butter, NOTHING. His pediatrician isn't worried about it yet, but I kind of am, because he's super active and needs a balanced diet. Has anyone experienced this with their little one? Any tricks to get some protein in him?

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So What Happened?

He's NEVER eaten these things, and he drinks milk but not really cheese unless I sneak it into something. Yogurt is hit or miss ;)

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answers from Cleveland on

The smoothie Idea works wonders!
Otherwise, you can always find a lil vitamin for him to fill in the gaps?
He will probably out grow it..
My son was like that, he's 2 1/2, likes some protein items..but will not eat meat haha
Ok he will eat chicken nuggets, tacos (sometimes) bacon,peperoni, but if he thinks it's meat he won't eat it.

I do the smoothies, You can sneak in the best stuff!
Kale, broccoli, carrots, etc
Just mix it with fruit and they love it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Bloomington on

How about cheese? My 14 month old loves cheese tortellini, mac and cheese, cheese quesadillas.
Okay, just read "no cheese."
You could also try to hide smashed beans or tofu into food he already eats.
At last resort, add a protein drink to his milk.

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answers from Tampa on

You can double check with your pedi but I am almost positive the protein requirement for that age is only 16 grams per day. That is accomplished in just two cups of cows milk. I had the same issue with my son not eating any protein sources beyond yogurt around that age. It was even harder for me since he does not drink cow's milk and the Almond milk only has 1g protein/cup vs the 8g in cow's milk. If he is drinking the cow's milk he is actually getting enough protein. So just keep trying to introduce the new foods and eventually he may try some (I am being son is really picky as well). Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My 4 year old is still a vegetarian. Fortunately, she'll eat yogurt and Kefir smoothies (strawberry) to get some protein and will eat peanut butter. I totally don't understand it because we are not like that at home at all. She's the only kid that will just eat a parfait at Chick Fil A and only the crust of a pizza at a party. Her little sister will eat just about anything you put in front of her. Not sure why big sis is so picky. When she was littler, she would actually wipe off her tongue if you snuck in some meat.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tallahassee on

Does he eat any dairy products? Milk, yogurt, cheese and cottage cheese all have protein. Little ones go through all kinds of phases. If his pediatrician isn't worried about it then I wouldn't worry about it either.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Johnstown on

My experience in this is that you just keep offering the items to him. He's not going to starve himself and sooner or later he'll give in. Don't offer him a variety of foods to choose from when you do introduce a new food. Give the new food to him for 3 days in a row and then introduce another in the same manner.

ETA: If you've very concerned, then I would attempt giving him Pediasure.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Chobani smoothie! Those things are packed with protein.

And see if he likes dipping stuff in cheese sauce maybe?

Whipped cream cheese with strawberries?



answers from Orlando on

My daughter was the same, didn't like meats, although she liked peanut butter, she is 3 now and still doesn't like most meat, she will eat chicken and fish (it's ok, with me! lol). Remember that all dairy has protein (yogurt, cheese etc). Whole grain breads, pasta and cereals are a good source of protein too (and fiber). I use a lot of Back To Nature products; cereals, cookies and their Mac&Cheese is the best! The have different varieties, that I, as an adult enjoy too (which helps a lot!). I make smoothies with vanilla yogurt, milk and frozen fruits (and have just started making popcicles too), if I use plain yogurt, I sweeten with honey. Also fish sticks and chicken nuggets (all natural) most kids like these. Oh, also my daughter really likes shrimp! So, I get the precooked frozen kind in a bag, it's kinda expensive, but the bag lasts a LONG time and it super healthy!



answers from Detroit on

Is this a new thing or has he never eaten them?
I would not worry... :-) As long as he is either still nursing or gettting formula... I have a friend who EXCLUSIVELY nursed her latest munchkin till she was about 2... No food of any other type... And that girl is the roliest, liveliest, happiest, silly little 2 1/2 yr old I have ever known... But since I know that as a mom, we do worry... Ask about mixing some type of protein powder in with his drink... You can get the powder at healthfood store and most big stores in the vitamin section...



answers from Dallas on

I also have a horribly picky eater, sometimes I despair of her eating anything other than bread. So I found high protein bread, and high protein pasta, and she will eat those no problem. Obviously vitamins, my daughter will eat nutella like it's going out of style, and it has a lot of protein in it ( if you don't know what it is, it is chocolate hazelnut spread) smoothies, popsicles made with yoghurt. eggs, as someone else said.



answers from Austin on

I have almost the reverse problem, my son only wants to eat protein. he cannot get enough yogurt, meat, beans, particularly's ridiculous.

Talk to the ped of course...cannot hurt. Have you tried protein alternatives? Soy or nut/grain based meats? My kiddo loves this stuff, like gardein and garden burgers. Gardein makes some "chicken" fingers that are awesome and very kid friendly. Or alternative butters, like almond butter instead of peanut butter. Or making a smoothie? You could sneak some protein in with yogurt and it tastes fruity and sweet to him.....


answers from Modesto on

I wouldnt worry about the meat thing at all, if you can raise a Vegan you will be doing him and the world a favor. Mine always love scrambled eggs sprinkled with a bit of cheese, have you tried that?
He will let you know when he needs more food, don't stress on it too much.
You can blend a lot of yummy stuff in your blender that will taste more like a treat than anything else.



answers from Norfolk on

Eggs are a fantastic source of protein. Will he eat eggs in any form? Also there are tortillas that have extra protein in them--make sure you read the nutrition info on soft tortillas because they vary widely in how much protein and fiber they have. And I'm sure there are breads with extra protein too. Have you tried any fish? I know he won't eat "meat" but both our kids have gobbled up grilled tuna steak from the first time we fed it to them.


answers from Boston on

Don't give him a vitamin - it doesn't fill in the gaps! It's not absorbed much anyway, and there's zero protein.

There is a great children's supplement called Now for Kids from Reliv International. You work with a distributor for your first order so you get the helpful support, and thereafter you can order directly from the company. The supplement is a whole food and comes in vanilla & chocolate. You mix it in water, milk, juice, applesauce, yogurt, whatever the kid will eat. The food scientist who formulated it was on the team that developed infant formulas at Mead & Johnson, and he is world renowned in children's nutrition. The company is on the Council for Responsible Nutrition, which is for those exemplifying the highest caliber of dedication to healthy supplementation. And the AMA says everyone in the US must supplement - that our food supply is depleted, even for those who eat organically. The products are also used in feeding stations that the company has established for those who are nutritionally deprived - and I have personally listened to the doctors who are combining this nutrition with their medical care to bring kids back to health.

I would be happy to help you with this - it makes nutrition SIMPLE.



answers from Washington DC on

My daughters main source of protein was dairy - yogurt, cream cheese, cottage cheese,(whole milk, full fat) - in between the 1st and 2nd year which was just fine because she was also underweight. Gradually I moved to skim and 2% varieties. However, I still offered meat and beans a lot. I also purreed beans and added them to tomato sauce and grilled cheese sandwiches - white beans worked well for being tricky but any tiype work. Now, at three she eats or at least tries lots of stuff. Not liking meat is common with a child about 15 months, just keep offering and it will be fine.



answers from Detroit on

Hi R.---Ok, so don't get too excited about him not eating meat, nor about many of the suggestions made so far. He, and his body, are trying to tell you something. He instinctively knows that he doesn't need animal protein to survive. There is protein in every single type of food that God has put on this earth. There is LOTS of protein in plants. Contrary to popular advice, human protein needs are quite low and eating too much of it, which most Americans do, leads to chronic disease processes, like cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and autoimmune disorders. Having said this, we do need to make sure he is eating an otherwise balanced diet. I'll get into that in a bit.

To back up a bit. I am taking wellness classes taught by a Naturopath who has her PhD in Nutrition. I have tons of resources to share on any health topic you would like to discuss. I'd also like to refer you to a couple of websites: (put dairy in the search box...lots of other websites within that one...look for the Vegetarian Starter Kit as well) and

Here is a website that will help you determine how much protein is needed for optimal health: I know I have a chart with recommended amounts but can't find it right now. If you'd like it, send me a private message and I will be sure to get it to you...when I find it.

Protein needs have been incredibly overstated in the U.S. Several years ago, The World Health Organization established protein needs as being
2.5% of daily calories, and set the daily recommendation at 5% just to be safe. The average American is consuming many times that amount daily.

Protein is found not only in animal foods, but in grains, nuts and seeds, legumes and vegetables, meaning that it is unnecessary to consume animal foods to make sure that protein needs are met. In fact, protein deficiency is virtually unheard of except in places where people are starving and are not taking in enough calories daily.

When considering protein intake, it is important to remember that the body uses macronutrients in very specific ways. Protein is used for building, and is not an efficient source of fuel. Therefore, any protein that is not utilized by the body for building purposes must be excreted, and the organs of excretion for protein are the kidneys. Excess protein consumption places undue stress on the kidneys, and individuals do not generally know that they have induced kidney problems until there is serious loss of function.

Young children and athletes DO need additional protein for rapid growth and muscle building and repair. But these needs are met from consuming additional calories overall, from a balanced diet. With the balanced diet, enough protein is consumed on a daily basis.

Hope this helps. I do have lots of ideas on other health and diet topics as well, backed by articles and research. Feel free to pick my brain. D.

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