Foods That Help Toddlers Gain Weight

Toddlers are notoriously busy individuals, burning more calories than they can hold on to. Providing them with nutrient-dense foods can help ensure they get enough calories to grow and develop appropriately. A registered dietitian can help you build a customized meal plan to get your toddler on the right track to a healthy weight.

Protein-rich Foods

Children need protein to help with their muscle development and overall growth. Protein is commonly found in animal products, such as:

  • chicken
  • turkey
  • beef
  • fish
  • eggs

To add extra calories to promote weight gain, do not remove the skin from poultry and prepare the food with a bit of extra butter or oil. Other nutrient-dense sources of protein include beans, seeds, nuts and peanut butter. Dairy products, such as milk and cheese, not only provide calcium needed for bone growth, but also protein and fat. Choose whole milk to get the most bang for your nutritional buck. Sprinkle chopped almonds into pancake batter or make a milkshake with whole milk and peanut butter. You can also add beans to casseroles and soups.

Calorie-Dense Foods

Foods That Help Toddlers Gain Weight

Foods That Help Toddlers Gain Weight

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Some foods, although they may not contain much nutritional value, will add calories to foods and promote weight gain. Maple syrup, sour cream, butter, gravies and mayonnaise can be added to foods to turn a moderate-calorie food into a high-calorie food. Ultimately, weight gain comes from your toddler consuming more calories than he burns, so high-calorie foods are important contributors to weight gain.

Recipe Boosts

Traditional recipes can get a calorie boost by adding simple ingredients that your toddler may not even realize are in there. For example, add an extra egg to pancakes or French toast. Butter your bread before making a sandwich. Dried milk powder makes for an easy addition to many foods to increase the protein and calorie content; try stirring some into mashed potatoes, soup, milkshakes, oatmeal or pudding. Foods that tend to be low in calories and fat, such as vegetables and fruits, can contribute extra calories when served with condiments and dipping sauces. For example, offer cheese sauce with broccoli or peanut butter with fruit.

Snack Wisely

Fried eggs

Sources of Fats for Toddlers

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Snacks are an important part of all children’s diets, but particularly so for those toddlers that need to gain weight. Offer snacks between meals and carry some with you while you are out and about. Trail mixes, granola, peanut butter crackers and cereal bars are all healthy, portable snacks. In some cases, your pediatrician or dietitian may recommend a nutritional supplement that is high in protein, calories and vitamins to ensure nutritional needs are met. Also, make sure beverages count too. Fruit juice and whole milk can add extra calories to the diet, but try to offer foods at meal time before drinks to discourage the child from filling up on fluids before eating the more nutrient-dense foods.