Making the most of meals for kids who don't eat well or gain much weight

Making the most of meals for kids who don't eat well or gain much weight

Easy ways to add more calories in your child's diet


Some kids love to eat, but others could care less. Some even resist eating because of behavior or texture issues. So for the kids who aren't food fans, it's important to pack each bite with as many nutrients as possible. 

Yes, it might be possible to get them to put more in their mouths if you offer them lots of junk food and sugary beverages. But Nutrition4Kids has some suggestions that might give these kids more nutritional value at mealtimes (as well as snack time). 

First though, it's important to make sure they are healthy otherwise and whether there are any patterns that are getting in the way or tricks that can help.

extra calories in the diet

Mealtime Suggestions

You may hate some of these if you've been trying to control your own weight. The purpose is to add calories and protein to your child's diet, not your own. If you are cooking one dish for everyone, put everyone else's food on their plates first and then add extras for your child. 

The extras you can add: 

  • butter or vegetable oil – 1 tablespoon adds 100-135 calories 
  • mayonnaise – 1 tablespoon adds 100          
  • ranch dressing – 1 tablespoon adds 70        
  • shredded cheese – 1 tablespoon adds 30
  • sour cream – 1 tablespoon adds 50
  • milk powder – 1 tablespoon adds 30
  • peanut butter – 1 tablespoon adds 95 (also other nut or sunflower butters)
  • honey – 1 tablespoon adds 70
  • avocado ¼ cup – adds 60
  • ketchup – 1 tablespoon 20
  • flaxseed – 1 tablespoon 40
  • Infant cereal – 1 tablespoon 15

Many of these are milk based. They shouldn't be used for kids with milk allergies. However, honey, avocado and sunflower butter are good alternatives. You can also use some of the high calorie supplements like Duocal that has 42 calories in a tablespoon. (You should not use Benecalorie which is made from milk).  

Adding the Extras

The idea is to enrich every bite with healthy calories. We do that with a baked potato, adding butter or sour cream or cheese or ground beef or all of those. You can do it whenever you cook 

  • Mashed or baked potato
  • Pasta
  • Grits
  • Rice
  • Soup
  • Meat
  • Vegetables
  • Toast / pastries

You can also add some of the snack ideas; try more finger foods dipped in sauce; offer whole grain breads; pile fruit on salads and cereal. 

You can also share your recipes and suggestions on Nutrition4Kids. Please include a photo, ingredients and how you make it.