Although phases of fussy eating are perfectly normal, it can be incredibly frustrating and worrying for parents to watch your little ones eat barely anything at all. I often get asked how to ensure kids are getting enough calories, or how to add extra calories to kids’ meals.
In this blog, I want to share some of my favourite ways to boost the calorie content of your kids meals and to add extra nutrients at the same time!
Firstly, it’s really important to caveat that this blog post is NOT intended to be a substitute for individualised medical advice if you are concerned about your child’s growth or health. These are simply general ways that you can increase the calorie content of your little one’s meals for times when they may be going through a fussy phase or if they’re a little unwell and off their food. If you have concerns about weight loss or if your child has any medical condition, it’s important to seek professional support specific to your child’s needs.
How can I make sure I’m offering my kids a balanced diet?
One of the key ways to make sure your kids are getting enough calories, is to ensure you’re offering a good balance of the different food groups across their mealtimes. My blog on balanced diets for toddlers covers everything you need to make sure your family meals are balanced.
The main food groups to aim to include at meals and snacks are:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Starchy carbohydrates
- Protein foods
- Dairy and dairy alternatives
As long as you’re offering these, regularly, you’re giving your little one plenty of opportunities to allow them to eat all the nutrients they need that make up a balanced diet.
What are high calorie foods I can add to my kid’s meals?
Of course, there are times when kids are being particularly fussy or they’re unwell and they go completely off their food. That’s when you might want to think about adding a few extra calories and nutrients into their meals, just to ensure they’re getting the most out of every bite they have! For more detail on what to feed a child when they’re sick, check out my blog.
Some of my favourite high calorie foods to add into kid’s meals include:
- Oily fish
- Ground nuts/seeds
- Nut/seed butters
- Unsalted butter or spread
- Dried fruits
How can I add extra calories to my kid’s meals?
Here are 10 ways to add in some extra calories and nutrients to my kid’s meals
- Stir yoghurt/cream/cheese into sauces
- Sprinkle ground seeds or nut butters into porridge/cereal
- Spread butter/spread on BOTH sides of the bread
- Drizzle additional oil over sauces or pasta/rice/grains
- Add a dip for veggies/fruit/potato – e.g. yoghurt/nut butter/hummus/pesto
- Make egg fried rice or eggy bread
- Add lentils (+ extra oils) into tomato sauces
- Add cheese/yoghurt/milk/cream or dairy free fortified alternatives to your mashed potatoes (I add beans and veggies to mash too)
- Serve a smoothie alongside meals/snacks – add yoghurt/kefir/nut butter/oats – try my family breakfast smoothie recipe
- Add chopped dried fruit to cereal/porridge/yoghurt
If you’re looking for more ideas on adding extra nutrients to your kid’s meals, I have a whole series on this. Check out the blogs below: