Having a child that is underweight or failure to thrive can be difficult for parents to deal with. Is your child a picky eater and underweight? Do you feel like it is a chore to feed your child throughout the day and get the nutrients they need? Many times, underweight children are also picky eaters. Here are some suggestions for getting more calories and good fat into your underweight child’s diet.
- Add whole milk to everything that you can. I always suggest to use whole milk in your child’s cereal, oatmeal, when making pudding, and any time you would usually use milk. An 8-ounce glass of whole milk contains around 150 calories and 8 gm protein.
- Mashed potatoes. Seem like a crazy idea? Well. mashed potatoes are a fantastic place to add some calories. I usually recommend that when making mashed potatoes, add whole milk, ½ and ½, or even whipping cream to your mashed potatoes to increase nutrient content.
- Milk shakes. Most kids LOVE a milkshake…..and here is where you can pack some punch. You can make a milkshake with whole milk, or for even more nutrients, you can use a supplement like Pediasure or Ensure. They come in different flavors like vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, so even the pickiest of eaters can find a flavor he/she likes.
- Butter is a fantastic way to add calories and healthy fat to a child’s diet. Butter on potatoes, grits, on vegetables, toast, pasta, really anything you can think of. Butter makes food taste better and gives it an excellent flavor.
- Cheese is high in calories and good fat. You can get cheese in your child’s diet by offering cheese on potatoes, cheese on vegetables and cheese on sandwiches. A grilled cheese sandwich is usually a hit with most kids and provides high calories and great flavor.
- Peanut butter. With all of the peanut allergies out there, this could be a challenge, but if your child can have peanut butter, this is a no brainer. Peanut butter sandwiches, peanut butter crackers, or even peanut butter and apples or celery. You can offer peanut butter in a variety of ways to encourage your child to get extra calories.
- Mayonnaise, salad dressing and oil. Let’s just say that the same things we tell people to avoid to lose weight, we encourage them to eat to gain weight. Full fat mayonnaise is a great choice on sandwiches and in potato or pasta salads. Salad dressings, like ranch, are a favorite dip for crunchy vegetables like carrots, celery, cauliflower, and cucumbers. And oil can be used in all cooking, especially for sauces and gravies, which tend to be a hit with kids in things like rice and gravy.
Another tip I like to give parents is to not let your child fill up on liquids. Lots of kids like to drink milk or juice all day, and this will make them feel full and they will not want to eat a substantial meal. So, when you are faced with the challenge of “beefing” up your child, don’t back down. You can do it, and you can do it without fighting, bribing or begging!
We all learn from each other, so any tips you may have that you can share to help parents offer calorie/nutrient dense meals?