If you’ve got a finicky eater on your hands, you may be worried that she’s not getting enough calories. It’s normal for children to go through phases with their food, only wanting to eat certain foods. As a parent, though, you should carefully plan her meals to ensure that she gets as much nutrition as possible, even if she has a limited number of foods she enjoys.
Why Give High Calorie Foods
Toddlers should be eating around 1,000 to 1,400 calories per day, according to KidsHealth. This might be easy for an adult to eat, but with smaller portion sizes and picky eating habits, some toddlers won’t reach this amount. Without enough calories, your toddler will not grow properly, a condition called “failure to thrive.” By serving your child high-calorie foods, you ensure that he gets all the calories his growing body needs.
High Calorie Toddler Favorites
All toddlers have different likes and dislikes, but here are a few common favorites in the high-calorie food department:
- Peanut butter
- Chicken nuggets
Note – when choosing dairy products, choose the full-fat varieties. Your toddler needs the calories and fat for growth.
Adding Calories to Favorite Foods
If your toddler’s favorite foods tend to be low calorie, you can look for ways to add to the calorie count. For example, cook eggs in butter or oil rather than using a nonstick pan. You can add a breakfast mix to milk in order to add both calories and nutrition. Add high-calorie toppings like cheese or butter to vegetables. Offer yogurt or peanut butter for dipping fruits.
When choosing high-calorie foods for your toddler, pay attention to the nutritional content of the foods that you choose. If you can get your toddler to eat more calories in the form of yogurt or fortified milk, for example, it’s more nutritious than simply adding oil to a recipe. Encourage your child to eat fruits and vegetables, incorporating higher calorie ingredients along with the nutrient-dense, but low-calorie, foods.
Junk foods like chips and candy can have a small place in everyone’s diet, but they shouldn’t form the bulk of it. Even though your child may need extra calories, you shouldn’t supplement her diet with junk foods. Some children will turn down a nutritious meal, only to ask for cookies later. Save junk foods for the occasional snack and focus on increasing calories through healthier foods.
For more information, check out this guide to high calorie food for toddlers from Framingham Pediatrics