Whey protein or milk-based protein supplement has been quite the buzzword in the health and nutrition industry for some time. Different studies have come up with different conclusions on how effective it is for the infant’s growth and development.
Incorporating whey protein is recommended in the daily diet of adults, however when it comes to adding whey protein in your baby’s diet, there are a few things you need to consider.
What Is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is an all-natural by product of the process of producing cheese from milk. It is also naturally found in some amounts in breast milk. Milk consists of two proteins – casein and whey. In the industrial process of producing paneer, cheese and curd, whey gets separated when rennet extract is added to milk after the milk has been pasteurized, inoculated with the bacterial culture, and incubated.
Whey protein is low in lactose content and rich with all nine essential amino acids like Lysine and Valine among others. These properties make whey an attractive option when it comes to the growth and development of the body.
There are both naturally occurring as well as synthetic sources of whey protein.
Milk is one of the most common and readily available sources. Milk from most mammals consists of some whey protein; cow milk is considered its most accessible source.
Whey protein forms 20% of the protein in cow milk whereas the rest 80% is made of casein. Another rich source is goat milk that contains even higher amounts of whey protein.
The next best source is yogurt, which is also rich in probiotics thus aiding in digestion along with muscle growth and development. Cheese is made with casein after removing whey and is a poor source of whey protein. Certain varieties of cheese, however, like the Norwegian gjetost, are high in whey protein because they are produced using the whey that gets separated from the milk that is used to make cheese
Apart from natural sources of whey protein, one can also get the requisite dosage from various supplements and powders. These can be mixed with easily ingestible liquids like milk, water, etc.
Should You Feed Whey Protein To Your Baby?
The best source of protein for a toddler is always breast milk. However, if for some reason the baby isn’t receptive towards it, whey protein can be used as a reliable protein alternative for the toddler.
Babies usually tend to get sufficient amounts of nutrition from regular foods. However, if your baby seems to be go slow on the growth curve, you can certainly add whey protein to the diet. Whey protein is also referred to as a ‘complete protein’.
For toddlers suffering from protein-related nutritional deficiencies, a short-term feed of whey protein can help them recover rapidly.
How To Feed Whey Protein And Its Safety
Apart from natural sources of protein, you can opt for whey protein powder and add it to almost every food and liquid. The best form of whey protein powder is unflavoured whey protein concentrates or isolates.
You can put whey protein powder in shakes and juices and sprinkle it over yogurt.
While choosing a whey protein powder for your toddler, prefer an unflavoured one as flavored whey protein powders may contain artificial colours, sweeteners, flavors and additives that may not be suitable or advised for babies.
Too much of anything is bad and whey protein is no exception. Before adding it to the daily diet of your baby, you must ensure that he/she doesn’t have any allergies to it. A common response to this kind of allergy could be diarrhea. Babies are also commonly lactose-intolerant, which means that their bodies won’t tolerate large doses of whey protein concentrate, which contains some lactose.
You must consult your doctor before adding whey protein to your baby’s diet. Also, always remember, whey can never be a complete replacement for your baby’s diet. While it is rich in protein, whey lacks many other important nutrients that are important for a baby’s development.
After the few initial doses do monitor if your baby is displaying any discomfort or signs of severe allergy like swollen lips, etc. If yes, then stop feeding a whey rich diet to your baby and call up the pediatrician.
It’s safe to say that whey protein isn’t entirely necessary for your baby as long as they are on an otherwise adequate protein diet. The recommended protein intake for babies between the ages of 1 and 3 is 13 grams of per day. As long as your toddler is consuming protein-rich foods like eggs, milk, cheese and tofu among others, there shouldn’t be any urgency to include whey protein in their diet.
However, if you feel you still should add whey protein to your baby’s diet, get a doctor’s opinion.