16 High Calorie Foods for Toddlers to Gain Weight

16 Healthy Foods for Toddlers to Gain Weight

Medically Reviewed By
Trishita Nalvath (Diabetologist/Nutritionist/Dietitian)
View more Diabetologist/Nutritionist/Dietitian Our Panel of Experts

Is your toddler eating well but not gaining too much weight? Do they also tend to suffer from fatigue, irritability and slow development? A nutrient-dense diet can help them put on weight and also get the required vitamins, minerals, and proteins for steady growth. On the other hand, being overweight could lead to obesity, which could further lead to several lifestyle illnesses at a young age. Fat is necessary for a child’s diet, but it is the right kind of fat that aids development. Here are some foods that can help increase weight in toddlers.

How Can One Determine If a Child Requires Weight Gain?

Humans, including children and adults, are unique – with different sizes and shapes. Before settling on ways or foods for your child to gain weight, it is essential to establish the fact whether they need to lose or gain the weight.

If your little one is properly meeting their growth milestones, gaining weight (slowly but steadily), meeting hunger cues, and seems healthy, then you don’t have to worry about the weight or growth curve. We have to accept that children, like adults, have beautiful, unique sizes.

However, if your child is not eating properly, does not have timely hunger cues, has repetitive medical conditions, and has uncharted off of their growth curve for a seemingly long time, then there should be no delay in contacting a paediatrician for the consultation.

There are several foods to help toddlers gain weight. Check them out now!

Foods to Increase Weight in Toddlers

A mother feeding her baby

Toddlers will get increasingly fussy with their diet as they get independent in their ways. Parents will often find themselves dealing with picky eaters as they want a variety in their diet. Food served to toddlers must cater to their developing taste buds while providing them with the necessary nutrients to stay active and achieve a healthy growth rate. Here are a few tips to help you include different kinds of nutrient-rich food to your toddler’s diet to ensure that he remains healthy.

1. Breast Milk

Breast milk is the best food for a baby until the age of six months, and even a year. Exclusive breastfeeding is needed up to six months for the child to get maximum nutrition and gain weight and health. To feed a baby, a mother must eat food rich in protein, vitamins and minerals to increase milk supply. A lactating mother is recommended to have a powder made of cumin and fennel seeds with desi ghee, fenugreek leaves and dill leaves or other galactagogues as per traditions.

2. Cereals/ Chapattis (10 months)/ Boiled Vegetables (7 months)

At about one year of age, you can start with finger foods that your child can eat by himself. Try feeding some breakfast cereal like cornflakes/ dalia soaked in milk. You can also serve some chapati or stuffed vegetable paratha spread with ghee and cut into small pieces. If you eat meat, serve with some shredded pieces of chicken.

3. Fruits (6 months)

Banana, chikoo (sapota), mango, custard apple are some great choices of food that can be given as cut fruits after 6 months of age or added to milkshakes, custard that can be given 7 months onwards. You can make smoothies with these fruits sprinkled with powdered nuts and curd. Bananas are a natural source of energy and carbohydrates, containing 105 calories per 100 gms

4. Vegetables

Veggies don’t help a child gain weight directly but are needed to prevent constipation and digestive issues when we increase proteins to make kids gain weight. Add a lot of green leafy vegetables to your child’s diet. Spinach, fenugreek leaves, carrots, pumpkin, beans, and others are a rich source of minerals and vitamins. Try to include 3-4 serves of veggies every day. Peas are rich in vitamins and dietary fibre and a great source of food for high calories.

5. Eggs (1 year)

Eggs are rich sources of protein, beneficial in terms of adding calories, and one of the high-fat foods for toddlers. Eggs can be served boiled, fried or made into an omelette. Another great way to add eggs to your diet is by adding them to custard, pancakes or fillings for chapati rolls. French toast is another great option for the intake of carbohydrates and calories. Introduce eggs only after your baby completes 1 year of age. If you want to give your child eggs before that, please consult your physician.

6. Fish/Meat/Poultry (7 months)

Fish is a great source of Omega 3, which is highly beneficial for brain development and hormone production. They are rich in proteins and vitamins. Chicken is rich in niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, Vitamin B6 and B12. Chicken can be served as a stew or soup or added to rice in the form of curry.

7. Paneer & Cheese – (8 months)

You can make paneer at home with whole milk. Chop these into bite-size pieces and offer them as finger food to your child. An ideal snack to eat without any accompaniments, it can also be added to parathas as a filling or in curries with rice. Cheese is another food that is rich in calcium and also helps kids put on some healthy fat. Cheese slice can be had by itself or added to sandwiches, chapatis or pasta and makes a wonderful combination of taste and nutrition.

8. Dried Fruits and Nuts (1 year)

Nuts are great snacks and energy boosters, benefiting your child’s growth in many ways. Walnuts, peanuts, almonds, raisins, black currants, dates, and dried apricots are great options to include in your child’s breakfast. Try offering them nuts or dried fruits as an alternative to chocolates and candies. They will compensate for the sugar cravings and balance the nutrition intake at the same time. If starting feeding nuts before 1 year of age, please consult your dietitian or paediatrician before the same, as nuts can cause allergies.

9. Avocados (6 months)

Avocados are dense in the amount of fat and calories they possess, and this composition makes it an ideal healthy food for toddlers and kids. One of the best high-calorie food for toddler weight gain, avocado tastes great in soups, dips, sauces, spreads and smoothies. The soft and pulpy texture appeases kids.

10. Ragi (7 months)

A great Indian food for weight gain in toddlers, ragi is served in porridge form to babies from the age of 7 months. A porridge of ragi boiled in water with jaggery and ghee could help toddlers gain weight. Ragi is filling and keeps babies’ tummies full for a long time.

11. Starchy Vegetables (6 months)

Starchy vegetables like potato and sweet potato are rich in healthy fat. Potatoes are an excellent source of energy and carbohydrates, and kids love mashed potatoes and cheese. Sweet potato is rich in beta-carotene and sugar. Mashed sweet potatoes taste great with lentils, milk, cheese or even just plain. It helps increase calorie density effortlessly.

12. Peanut Butter (1 year)

if there is any family history of peanut allergy, please consult your doctor before starting to feed peanuts to your child. Peanut butter has natural oil and fat content, thereby making it rich in calories. You could spread peanut butter on toast, biscuits, fruits and sandwiches. For toddlers allergic to peanuts, try other nut spreads like hazelnut spread, almond spread or soya spread. However, make sure your child is not allergic to them.

13. Ghee (8 months)

Another important ingredient in Indian food, ghee, is considered one of the best foods to increase weight and also aid digestion. It is recommended to feed babies about one teaspoon of ghee in their food every day. Start with a few drops at first and gradually increase the quantity. Home-made ghee is the best, so try to use it while cooking curries and other recipes for your toddler.

14. Pears (6 months)

A great source of dietary fibre, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and iron, a pear can be had in the form of puree. Make a puree of apple and pear for your 3-month-old baby and top it with some cinnamon powder for additional flavour.

15. Lentils Like Moong Dal and Urad Dal (7 months)

Moong dal and urad dal are powerhouses of calcium, protein, and EFA that help develop the brain. Moong dal can be added to khichdi with rice and topped with a dollop of ghee. Toss in some vegetables to meet daily servings. Urad dal can be used to make idlis, a healthy, steamed food rich in carbohydrates and protein.

16. Full-Fat Milk/Curd/Yoghurt

Add full-fat milk to your baby’s kheer, porridge and halwa for extra calories. Set curd from full-fat milk and serve to babies above seven months of age. You can use curd in fruits and smoothies.

Healthy Recipes for Toddlers That Promote Weight Gain

There is abundance of high-calorie foods for toddlers that can help promote their weight gain. You can mix and match different foods and make unique and healthy recipes. Here are some recipes you can try:

1. Rava & Ragi Upma

Ingredients

  • Rawa/Sooji – 1/2 cup
  • Ragi Flour – 1 cup
  • Onion – 1 (finely chopped) *we know kids*
  • Tomato – 1 (finely chopped)
  • Green chilli (optional) – 1/2 finely chopped

For tempering:

  • Ghee/oil
  • Mustard seeds

How to Cook

  1. When the pan is hot, add oil/ghee and then mustard seeds for tempering.
  2. Add chopped onions. Once the onions turn translucent, add the chopped tomato. If you have any veggies like beans or carrots, then you can also add them finlely chopped.
  3. Once the vegetables are sauteed nicely, then you can add one cup water to the pan. Once the water is hot, add sooji or rawa and ragi flour to it.
  4. Whisk nicely so that there are no lumps. Once the lumps are dissolved, let the mixture cook on medium flame.
  5. Once the consistency thickens, switch off the flame, and voila! Your ragi rawa upma is ready.

2. Egg N Potato Pancake

Ingredients

  • Potatoes – 2 (thinly sliced)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Onion – 1 (chopped)
  • Salt – optional (recommended only for above 1 year)
  • Rice flour – 1 teaspoon
  • Cumin powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Coriander powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Garam masala – 1 teaspoon
  • Turmeric powder- 1 teaspoon
  • Hing – a pinch
  • Ghee/oil

How to Cook

  1. Rinse thoroughly and peel the potato and onion.
  2. Thinly slice the potatoes and chop the onions, then set them aside.
  3. Combine the potato slices, egg yolk, and all other ingredients in a bowl, beating until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Heat a pan over medium flame and pour 1-2 ladlefuls of the potato-egg batter onto it.
  5. Drizzle with ghee or oil and cook on both sides for 2-4 minutes each.
  6. Your potato egg pancake, a healthy recipe for weight gain, is now ready to be served with homemade tomato sauce or green chutney.

3. Banana & Avocado Chocolate Smoothie

Ingredients

  • Banana – 1 (ripe)
  • Avocado – 1/2 (ripe)
  • Cocoa Powder – 1 tablespoon
  • Milk – 1 and 1/2 cup (lukewarm to chilled, as per the weather)
  • Vanilla Extract – 1 teaspoon
  • Sugar – 1 tablespoon

How to Cook

  1. Peel avocado and banana and add them in the blender.
  2. Blend them for 3-4 minutes till no lumps are left.
  3. Add in the cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla extract, and milk. Blend nicely.
  4. Check the consistency of the smoothie. If it is too thick, you can add some more milk.
  5. Once the smoothie is ready, pour it in the glass. Sprinkle non-sugar chocolate shavings on top for a beautiful look for your little kid.

4. Carrot Energy Balls

Ingredients

  • Carrots – 3, medium
  • Oats – 1 cup
  • Sunflower seeds – 1 cup
  • Dates – 1/2 cup
  • Coconut oil or other light-flavoured oil – 1 tablespoon
  • Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon
  • Dried ginger powder – ½ teaspoon
  • Desiccated coconut for rolling – 50-100g

How to Cook

  1. Rinse thoroughly and finely chop the carrots.
  2. In a food processor, add the chopped carrots, oats, sunflower seeds, deseeded dates, cinnamon powder, dried ginger powder, and coconut oil. Blend everything to a smooth dough-like consistency.
  3. Transfer the end product to a bowl. Using a teaspoon, make small balls from the mixture and roll the balls in the desiccated coconut.
  4. Refrigerate the carrot balls. Once they harden slightly and do not crumble when you lift them, then your carrot energy balls are ready!

Things to Remember for Healthy Weight Gain in Toddlers

  1. Include five portions of fruits and veggies daily.
  2. Give three meals with three interspersed snacks every day.
  3. Add plenty of fluids to their diet – six to eight cups a day which includes water, juices, soups etc. This prevents constipation.
  4. Avoid sugary drinks like artificially sweetened juices, cola, etc., which are full of empty calories.

FAQs

1. Can I incorporate homemade smoothies or shakes for weight gain in toddlers?

Yes, absolutely! Smoothies and shakes are one of the best ways to promote weight gain in toddlers. You can include fresh or frozen fruits, yoghurt, or milk to make smoothies and shakes. Pitted dates and cashew butter can make the smoothie or shake more interesting by adding more texture to it.

2. Are there any snacks specifically recommended for promoting weight gain in toddlers?

A toast with peanut butter and mashed banana, steamed or air-fried broccoli drizzled with a healthy dressing or some virgin olive oil, PB&J sandwiches with homemade butter and jams, carrot sticks, and smoothies.

3. How important is meal timing in promoting weight gain for toddlers?

A meal served at an appropriate mealtime makes all the difference in weight gain. Our human bodies have a high and low digestive fire at different periods of time in the day. Rather than sticking to larger portions of meals three times a day, it is better to spread those meals in smaller portion sizes in more fragmented feeds. This will help the child not get overstuffed and absorb the nutrients more easily.

4. How can you monitor your toddler’s weight gain progress and adjust their diet accordingly?

You can refer to paediatrician-recommended growth and weight charts to monitor your little one’s development. If it seems your child has drastically lost weight, looks shun and does not eat properly, then it warrants a visit to a paediatrician. With your paediatiricin’s guidance, you can make changes in their diet.

Most often, it is simply a matter of increasing the calories in a child’s diet. What is important to remember is that this need not mean your child will be undernourished or unhealthy. Many parents tend to supplement their child’s diet with sugary and fried food to help kids increase weight. However, this leads to unhealthy weight gain and will destroy their appetite for tasty and nutrient-rich food.

Also Read:

Height and Weight for Toddler
Solutions for Underweight Toddler
Overweight Toddler – Tips to Stay Healthy

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