Toddlers are becoming small humans of their own. They start to discover new things like their own bodies, grow molars, unlock new milestones, invent new vocabularies, solidify attachments and get so distracted with adventurous playtime they don’t even notice they’re hungry. These are some of the many reasons why toddlers start to lose weight throughout the stages of development. We may not be fully knowledgeable about it until their growth percentiles fall, and then the alarms ring. With that, we give you this list of food and recipe recommendations, together with their estimated calorie intake per serving. Help your toddler overcome weight gain problems with these easy, sneaky calorie-rich (and nutritious) foods.
All of these recipes and a collection of advice from various pediatricians are written after we applied almost all of them for our own daughter. Every child is different and so are the reasons why they’re not big on weight gain so your miles may vary. Unfortunately, I can’t give fellow mothers out there a roadmap, failure to thrive is a hard topic.
Here’s some background information on how we have dealt with our daughter’s feeding & weight problems. Our daughter was born in the top 75% of her weight class, almost 8 lbs, a completely healthy baby girl. She was 11 days overdue, I mention this because many babies diagnosed with feeding blame prematurity in birth, and in my experience, it was certainly not the case.)
By 2 months of age, she had dropped down to 7% in her weight class. When no doctor or specialist could figure out why my husband and I were in limbo every meal for years. She’s an older toddler now and we found tricks to sneak in nutritious calories to keep her on the weight charts, barely. This entire experience has highlighted something that (before becoming a mother) I thought should be easy. Humans get hungry, you have food in front of you, eat it. RIGHT??? It’s laughable now how wrong I was. But kids will be kids, sometimes they need help and incentive. In this blog, I will share every bag of tricks in the book I have on how to make mealtime nightmares a little more like a dream instead.
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1. Pancakes & Waffles
Toddlers are so into pancakes and waffles, making it easier for mums like us because these goodies have high-calorie contents. Pancakes have around 79 calories per serving, while waffles have about 94 calories per serving – not including toppings – so the exact calories will still change, depending on the ingredients you’ll be using. You can also use these recipes below:
This easy toddler pancake has around 175.71 kcal/serving, making it a high-calorie food. With just five main ingredients, your toddler can fully enjoy their brekky. There are also other ingredients present for this recipe, but they’re optional, thus, can be replaced with other ingredients or just simply remove it in the recipe.
Let’s get creative with our cooking skills! Instead of preparing the usual waffle recipe for our toddlers, we can also have this almond waffle. It has around 205 kcal/serving, giving our toddlers enough nourishment to remain active all day.
Bread is a part of our everyday life, which we also want to share with our toddlers. There are two main types of bread that most of us know of – whole wheat grain bread and plain white bread. We recommend giving them whole wheat (or any multi-grain) bread as it contains higher-calorie content. Whole wheat bread has around 100 calories per serving, while white bread has only approximately 80. Plus, whole wheat bread is healthier.
You might think that loaf bread requires complex baking procedures, but you got it all wrong with this homemade loaf bread. It only takes five simple ingredients and four easy steps to complete this recipe with a high health score and 231 kcal/serving!
This bread is made of organic ingredients with the natural sweetness of honey, but mixing it with other ingredients can also be an option. Besides being healthy, it also provides a calorie content of 276 kcal/serving.
3. Sticky Rice
Rice, including this sticky rice, is more common in Asian countries, but it does a lot of help for your toddler’s weight gain. Sticky rice has 169 calorie content per serving of one cup, and it can get higher if you combine it with other high-calorie content ingredients, just like what we have below:
This sticky rice recipe only takes four simple ingredients to make it. And if those ingredients are not available in your kitchen, you can always cook it with what’s available. It also contains around 1096 kcal/serving, making it a very high-calorie content food.
If you want something sweet and creamy for your toddler’s breakfast, you should try this mango sticky rice! You only need five ingredients, but your toddler can already consume around 455.07 kcal/serving. But of course, you can constantly adjust the sweetness of this recipe and even serve it during snack time, depending on your liking.
Sticky rice is versatile, it can come in savory forms as well as sweet. For savory forms, you can check Chinese tamales made with sticky rice and soy sauce.
4. Sour Cream
Sour cream is a common topping, dip, and finger food in Mexican and American cooking. Sour cream is common in every grocery store, making it an easy find. Aside from that, sour cream’s nutrition facts also include its high-calorie content, around 57 calories per two tablespoons serving. You can use these recipes below to introduce sour cream to your toddlers:
On top of having a 183.61 calorie content per serving, this basic beef stroganoff also gives your toddler some iron and protein in their diet. But because beef is present in the ingredients, it is best recommended for older toddlers, maybe two years old and above, and those with back molar teeth.
If you want something really healthy for your toddlers, you must try these healthy mashed potatoes with broccoli. All the ingredients are totally healthy, containing around 126.69 calories content per serving!
5. Nut Butters
There are many kinds of nut butter in the market, such as peanut, almond, hazelnut, pistachio, cashew, walnut, pecan, and macadamia nut butter. These kinds of butter are all healthy, rich in plant-based protein, and have high calories. If you’re aiming for the highest calorie content for your toddlers, choose macadamia nut butter as it contains around 203 calories per 2 tablespoons. But if you want some easy-find butter in grocery stores, better have peanut butter. Its calorie content is about 166 calories per two tablespoons; not as high as macadamia, but it is still a good source.
Nut butter doesn’t usually need cooking, but there are some ways to incorporate your toddler’s favorite nut butter into different goodies.
6. Pasteurized Cheese
Pasteurized cheese is another famous filling that you can use with any bread, pancake, and some recipe according to your liking. Some pasteurized cheeses usually contain about 90 calories per two tablespoons and get higher as you mix it with other high-calorie content foods. Remember to avoid non-pasteurized cheese (soft cheeses) in the case of listeria.
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7. Beans & Legumes
Beans and legumes are better replacements for meat, especially for toddlers who still have food limitations. These foods have around 215 to 427 calories content per cup, depending on the type of bean. You can cook this sweet potato, kale, and black bean patties recipe with about 107.53 kcal/serving for your toddler.
8. Veggies Sautéed in Pure Butter
We all experience having a hard time convincing our kids to eat veggies because they are natural picky-eaters. But, we as good parents don’t stop trying, and one of the easiest ways is to sautéed veggies of your choice in butter. One example is this quick and easy sautéed carrot recipe, containing a high calorie of about 78.79 kcal/serving. Butter makes everything delicious and cooking it with veggies will add some nutrition to your toddler’s diet.
9. Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is a famous top bagel and cheesecake main ingredient, but you can use cream cheese to create all kinds of savory dips, spreads, and cheeseballs. It also helps smooth out sauces and other dishes. It’s a good idea to keep some cream cheese on hand at all times, especially when you have toddlers because it has high calories containing about 342 calories per 100 grams. To introduce cream cheese to your toddlers, you can prepare spinach cream cheese balls for them with about 953.23 kcal/serving!
10. Whipped Cream
Whipped cream is made of heavy cream, commonly used as whipped toppings for cakes, pies, and other desserts. It is very high in calories, containing about 400 calories per 1/2 cup of serving. With that, you can consume just a few of them in recipes like healthy berries n’ cream cups, containing about 30 kcal/serving.
11. Full Fat Cottage Cheese
Full fat cottage cheese is full of nutrients with high-calorie content of about 107 calories in every 1/2 cup. You can have this kind of cheese mixed with fruits like cottage cheese with fruit bowls, containing around 30 kcal/serving.
12. Chicken Nuggets / Dino Nuggets
Chicken nuggets are very accessible in almost all of the supermarkets and grocery stores around the area. Dino nuggets are kid favorites, they taste second to McDonald’s nuggets and they have the coolest dino shape. My toddler loves to eat dino nuggets. On the days she would refuse everything on the plate, we give her nuggets as a quick meal. Chicken nuggets from the groceries have around 49 calories per piece, while this homemade chicken nuggets recipe has around 250.37 kcal/serving.
13. Olive Oil Pasta
Young ones love pasta so much, especially spaghetti because it’s so tasty! But this olive oil pasta will bring your toddlers to another level. It’s a quick and easy preparation with high-calorie content of about 371.99 kcal/serving.
14. Cheddar Puffs
These puffs were my daughter’s favorite snacks when she was a skinny 7 months old with her new teeth. They’re just like Cheetos Puffs, with a little bit of crunch and melts in the mouth. Gerber’s Lil Crunchies’ Mild Cheddar is available on Amazon – where we got it from. These puffs contain around 35 calories per serving (exactly the same as Cheeto’s cheddar puffs not surprisingly.)
It’s not nutritious at all. That’s why I’m throwing this option in last. It’s basically a meltier, buttery version of cheddar Cheetos from Frito Lays. But my daughter, who hated eating solids, liked eating this, and the puffs made the transition to solids easier for finicky babies who need to gain weight.