High Calorie Diet for Infants and Toddlers
Some infants and toddlers need to eat a high calorie diet to gain weight. This can be hard to
achieve with infants and toddlers because they have tiny tummies. Below you’ll find some ideas
for high calorie foods to try as well as items to add to foods that will boost the calorie content.
A note about introducing new foods…
There is no perfect order for introducing solid foods. Parents often offer single grain, iron
fortified cereals as the first food. This is not required. Pureed meats are a good first food because
they are higher in calories, protein, iron, and zinc than many other choices.
Add new foods into your child’s diet one at a time. Wait 3 days before adding another food.
Make sure you do not notice signs or symptoms of a food allergy. If there is not a family history
of food allergies and your child does not have eczema, you may start peanut butter, nut butters,
eggs, and fish along with other solids. Delaying these foods can increase food allergies.
If your child needs to be on high calorie fortified infant formula or human milk, please talk to
your health care provider first. You should be educated about the right recipe. This is to prevent
an excess intake of nutrients which will help to prevent constipation and dehydration.
High Calorie Foods for Infants:
*When you first offer these foods, you may need to thin with formula, broth, or human milk to
ξ Beans – black, navy, red, pinto, kidney, white (cooked and mashed)
ξ Eggs (mash the yolk)
ξ Lentils (cooked and mashed)
ξ Fresh ground meats (dark meat poultry, beef, lamb, pork)
ξ Whole milk yogurt
ξ Full fat cottage cheese (4% fat – may need to puree or try small curd)
ξ Mashed sweet potatoes
ξ Mashed potatoes
ξ Mashed squash (acorn, butternut)
ξ Peanut butter or nut butter (thinning will reduce stickiness)
ξ Goat cheese
ξ Cooked quinoa or buckwheat (soft grains that are higher in calories)
High Calorie Finger Foods:
ξ Sweet potato fries
ξ Mozzarella balls
ξ Cheese curds
ξ Homemade cheese crackers or cheese puffs (see recipe on page 3)
ξ Diced summer sausage
ξ Dried fruit
ξ Mini quiche
ξ Hard boiled eggs
ξ Frosted wheat biscuits
ξ Diced grilled cheese sandwich
ξ Homemade pancakes, waffles, and French toast sticks
ξ Nut butter balls (see recipe on page 3)
ξ Sugar plums (see recipe on page 3)
High Calorie Additives:
The items listed below can be added to pureed and mashed baby food, yogurt, cereals, and eggs.
Start with 1/2 teaspoon for every ¼ cup and work up from there based on your child’s preference
and after talking with your healthcare provider.
ξ Oils (canola, safflower, flaxseed, walnut, and sunflower are good sources of essential
ξ Ground flaxseed
ξ Ground chia seeds
ξ Heavy cream
ξ Dry milk powder
ξ Sour cream
ξ Cream cheese
ξ Maple syrup
ξ Try making your own baby food. Although this requires extra work, it is often higher in
calories. You could prepare all the food you will need a few times per month, put in ice
cube trays, and keep in the freezer.
ξ Talk to your daycare provider about needing to add extra calories to your child’s meals
throughout the day.
ξ Consider bringing your own food to daycare.
ξ Avoid giving more than 2 ounces of juice daily. Juice will fill your baby up without
providing enough nutrition.
ξ Try putting foods into a mesh bag to allow our baby to enjoy them without the fear of
Cheddar Cheese Puffs
These are a soft, high calorie snack!
1 cup flour 6 Tbsp butter, chilled and diced
2 tsp baking powder 1-3 Tbsp heavy cream
3 cups grated cheddar cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a food processor or mixer, combine first 4 ingredients until crumbly.
3. Add the cream gradually until a dough forms.
4. Using a 1 teaspoon scoop form the dough into balls.
5. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
No Bake Peanut Butter Balls
These are easy to make and nutrient dense!
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter 2/3 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup maple syrup 1/2 cup ground flaxseed meal
1 tsp vanilla extract 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup old-fashioned oats (raw)
1. In a mixing bowl, stir together peanut butter, syrup and vanilla extract.
2. Add remaining ingredients and stir until coated.
3. Transfer mixture to refrigerator or freezer and chill until set.
4. Remove from refrigerator and shape into 1-inch balls. Store in refrigerator in an airtight
Sugar Plums are tasty, healthy, and great for little fingers.
3/4 cup nuts or seeds, toasted 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup dried plums (prunes) 1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup dried apricots 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cranberries 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup dried cherries
1. Put all ingredients in a food processor. Mix until smooth.
2. Wearing gloves (or spraying hands with nonstick cooking spray), roll into 1-inch balls. Store
in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
What is the most important thing you learned from this handout?
What changes will you make in your diet/lifestyle, based on what you learned today?
If you are a UW Health patient and have more questions please contact UW Health at one of the
phone numbers listed below. You can also visit our website at www.uwhealth.org/nutrition.
Nutrition clinics for UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) and American Family Children’s
Hospital (AFCH) can be reached at: (608) 890-5500.
Nutrition clinics for UW Medical Foundation (UWMF) can be reached at: (608) 287-2770.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 3/2015 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Clinical Nutrition Services Department and the Department
of Nursing. HF#343