Many parents are aware that babies have a very high need for calories for their small size. The majority of these needs are met by breast milk or formula. But at around 6 months of age nutrient dense complementary foods need to start being introduced as well to help them meet all their needs.
All the way through two years, they have very high needs for calories and fat in order for them to achieve optimal development. Here are some ideas that can help you offer your baby food with as many calories as you can.
Serving Your Baby or Toddler a Balanced Meal
I always recommend that up through at least 2 years of age you build your child’s plate by focusing on an iron-rich food, a high calorie food, and a fruit or veggie at every meal. (But don't feel you have to stop at 2! We use this formula for adults and kids in my family!)
This formula works for baby foods of all types. Including when you're serving homemade baby food or store bought pureed food, as well as solid foods that are finger foods. Head to this article for more details on adding balanced meals to your child's diet. Simplifying building a plate using these guidelines can really help to make meals easier.
If you have a baby who is falling off of their growth curve and needs help gaining weight, make sure you head here for some tips specific for toddler and baby weight gain. And head here for more help with how to interpret your child's growth chart and what it really means.
What Foods Belong in the High-Calorie Foods Category?
You can look at this high calorie foods category two different ways. One, you can focus specifically on high-fat foods for your baby's diet like oils, butter, or avocados. Things that we all know have a very high fat content and some of the highest calorie baby food. They give you a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to extra calories.
You can also think of the high-calorie foods category as a little bit more of a catch-all category. When you think about it, food like sweet potato, bread and tortillas, many grains, and even beans can be considered high-calorie foods. They are some of the best calorie dense foods for babies!
Essentially, they provide the most calories of many meals, are nutrient dense, and are what kids tend to gravitate towards. Many of these food items can be further optimized simply by adding a high-fat food like oil or butter.
I usually go for the second option for my meals. I focus on making sure I’ve got something along the lines of a calorie dense regular food on a plate. If I feel the need to offer more calories at a meal, I will add an additional fat source to it like butter, oil, or even whole milk yogurt.
The Best High Calorie Foods
The goal is really to help provide ample calories for your child's diet, with a focus on food that your child loves and might find it easy to eat a good amount of.
At the end of the day, though, remember that your job is simply to offer the food. You can't control the amount of something that your child eats, and it's not your job.
Focus on offering regular dishes for your child throughout the week that have various different options to fulfill the 3 categories of food for a meal. Allow your child to control how much of it they eat. For more help with this, be sure to check out the Starting Solids course for babies, or the Mastering Mealtimes Toddler Feeding Course for babies over 12 months of age.
While this list is far from exhaustive, hopefully it will give you a good place to start when it comes to feeding your baby!
For a full run down of what should be on your baby’s plate, as well as how you should serve it to help foster a positive relationship with food, make sure you grab the Starting Solids course. It walks you through everything you need to know to get your baby started on their eating journey confidently! And if your baby or toddler is older and you still aren’t sure about the foods you should be serving them, grab the Grow Baby Grow Ebook for help with that!