How Much Protein Does an Infant Need

Protein needs are also much higher for infants than for adults. Infants require about 1.5 to 2 grams of protein/kilograms body weight (0.7 to 1.0 grams of protein per pound). Furthermore, at least 40 percent of the protein should come from more complete protein sources. In general, protein should contribute 20 percent or a little less to an infant's energy intake, with fat (30 to 50 percent) and carbohydrate (30 to 50 percent) making up the remainder. The energy in mature breast milk is composed of about 17 percent protein, 54 percent fat, and 40 percent carbohydrate. Cow's milk formulas approximate these percentages, although they are slightly higher in protein (18 percent) and lower in fat (43 percent). Fat recommendations are higher for infants than for adults because of their high energy need versus their relatively small food intake. Do not worry about their blood lipids yet as their growth and development are more important. In fact, recommendations by the American Heart Association for eating a lower fat diet do not begin until after they have reached 2 years of age.

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