Helping your child gain weight: energy boosting ideas

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Increase Calories of Protein Foods:

(meat, chicken, fish, eggs, yogurt, dairy, lentils, beans, tofu, nuts and seeds)

  • Compare jarred meats/chicken and choose ones highest in fat, protein and calories.
  • Select high fat cuts of meat and offer chicken thigh over chicken breast.
  • Add canola/olive oil or non-hydrogenated margarine when making homemade foods.
  • Add gravy to foods.
  • Add parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, eggs or breadcrumbs into ground meat dishes and serve with cream sauce.
  • Select fattier fish like salmon, mackerel, trout, herring and sardines. Prepare with butter/oil for added fat.
  • Mix avocado into stewed meats or fish for creamier texture.
  • Scramble eggs with added oil and high fat cheese. Add raw eggs to soup while they are cooking.
  • Add nut butter or peanut butter powder (PB2) into sauces, hot oatmeal, Greek yogurt and smoothies or use as a dip.
  • Use hummus, edamame, or other mashed beans, as a dip for crackers or vegetables.
  • Add tofu (regular or silken) to soups, smoothies, congee, pasta sauces or pan fry pieces for your toddler to hold and eat.
  • Add meat, beans, lentils into soups or stews.
  • Crush nuts/seeds and use as a coating for chicken or fish.
  • Add cheese into mashed potatoes, sauces, scrambled eggs, casseroles, meats and stews.
  • Choose high fat Greek yogurt to mix with fruit, serve with waffles, pancakes or add to muffins or smoothies. Mix with powdered ranch and enjoy as a vegetable dip or sandwich spread.
  • Use full fat coconut milk as a base for soups or when making Thai curry.
  • Add powdered milk to soups for a creamier texture.

Increase Calories of Whole Grain Foods:

(breads, pasta, rice, quinoa, crackers)

  • Use breast milk or iron fortified formula instead of water when preparing infant cereal.
  • Add ground or chopped nuts, chia or flax seeds into breakfast cereals or oatmeal.
  • Add nut butter to hot infant cereal or spread onto toast, pancakes or waffles.
  • Prepare peanut/nut butter sauces to serve over rice or pasta.
  • Soak French toast in eggs and high fat milk and then pan fry using oil or non-hydrogenated margarine or butter.
  • Spread outside of bread with non-hydrogenated margarine or butter before making grilled cheese.
  • Table cream (18-30% M.F.), whipping cream (more than 36% M.F.) or powdered milk can be added to mashed potatoes, hot cereal, oatmeal, soups, congee, pancake batter, pasta sauce and casseroles.
  • Add non-hydrogenated margarine, butter or oil to rice, pasta, quinoa or other cooked grains.
  • Add quinoa into soup or use in meat/fish/lentil patties as a binder.
  • Melt cheese on whole grain bagel or English Muffin for homemade pizza.
  • Add wheat germ to homemade bran muffins or soft granola bars.
  • Add healthy fats, such as chia seeds, hemp hearts, ground flax seeds and nut butters into baked goods.
  • High fibre cereals can be great finger foods. Make your own trail mix by mixing cereal with raisins, nuts, seeds or chocolate chips.
  • Raisins, nuts and seeds can be a choking hazard for children less than 4 years of age. If your child is under 4 years old, chop/crush the dried fruit, nut, seeds and chocolate chips into tiny pieces.

Increase Calories of Vegetables & Fruit:

  • Melt grated cheese or add cheese sauce to steamed vegetables.
  • Add canola/olive oil, table or whipping cream when cooking vegetables.
  • Add vegetables cooked with added fat into meats, infant cereals or baked goods.
  • Dip vegetables into hummus, bean dip or homemade Greek yogurt/ranch dip.
  • Make homemade potato or sweet potato fries to dip into ranch dressing or mash with added maple syrup.
  • Spread avocado on toast or crackers, mix with mashed lentils or add to sauces, high fat yogurt, egg or tuna salad, smoothies or casseroles.
  • Dip banana circles or fruit slices into peanut or nut butter.
  • Dip apple slices into high fat Greek yogurt and sprinkle with ground nuts for added crunch.
  • If purchasing commercial jars of pureed fruit, add 1 teaspoon of whipping cream or oil to each 4 oz jar. This can then be mixed into infant cereal or yogurt.

View more feeding resources or download a PDF of this resource.