Calorie Boosters for Kids

Kelly Vieira, M.S., R.D.

Children who were born prematurely sometimes need an extra boost to help them grow. By adding extra protein and calories to their diet it will allow their bodies to develop and gain weight. The following guidelines will give your child the boost he or she needs at mealtime:

  • Offer your child 4-6 small meals a day.
  • Meal times should be free of distractions. Keep the noise down and turn off the television! Also, it is best for your child to eat in a highchair or at the table instead of on the floor or couch.
  • As your child gets older, allow him or her to participate in the preparation of healthy snacks. Children are more willing to try a new food when they have made it themselves.
  • Don't waste a good opportunity to give a high calorie, high protein snack by giving "junk food" like cookies, candy or colas instead. This will fill their tummies, but won't give them what they need to grow.
  • Take snacks wherever you go - the mall, doctor's appointments etc. This way your child will not have to miss his or her snack time when away from home. Dry cereal, cereal bars and fruit make great travel snacks.
  • Offer your child a variety of foods from all the food groups. Although your child may not like some foods at first continue to offer these foods in small amounts as your child gets older.
  • Even if your child does not eat very much at one time, make every bite count. Use the following suggestions to boost calories in your child's favorite foods.

Butter
  • Add it to everything: vegetables, potatoes, pasta, oatmeal etc.
Gravy
  • Put it on mashed potatoes, meats, egg noodles and anything else.
Mayonnaise
  • Spread on sandwiches, use in meat dishes, add to dips
Cream Cheese
  • Spread on fruits and breads.
Sour Cream
  • Add to potatoes and pasta, use in meat dishes, mix into soups and casseroles.
Powdered Milk
  • Add 2-4 Tbsp. to 1-cup whole milk; add to cereals, puddings, and other hot foods.
Cheese
  • Melt on sandwiches, vegetables, and eggs. Have cheese and crackers for a snack!
Peanut Butter*
  • Use on sandwiches and toast, spread on fruit, add to milkshakes.

* DO NOT give to children less than 2 years of age.

Fruit
  • Make fruit smoothies using ice cream and whole milk, add to yogurt, dip in peanut butter or cream cheese.
Vegetables
  • Cut up vegetable sticks for dipping salad dressing.
Meat
  • Add meat to casseroles or other favorite foods like mashed potatoes; Eggs are good protein sources too (*children less than 1 year should not have egg whites)
Whole Milk
  • Use whole milk when cooking, add to eggs and cooked cereal, add chocolate or strawberry syrup to a glass of milk and drink as a snack!