What Kinds of Food Make Children Gain Weight?




Adding honey to fresh fruit or cooked cereal can increase calories and help children gain weight.

Adding honey to fresh fruit or cooked cereal can increase calories and help children gain weight.

Young children often grow taller before they gain weight, and as a result, they end up below the normal weight-for-height on the growth charts. If this happens, it is important that you increase the calories in your child’s diet to ensure he is getting sufficient calories and nutrients for growth and development.

Calories for Weight Gain

Healthy children ages 2 to 3 years need about 1,000 calories per day, and children ages 4 to 8 years need 1,200 to 1,400 calories each day. In order to gain 1 pound, an individual must eat an additional 3,500 calories. By adding an extra 500 calories to your child’s calorie needs each day, this will help him gain roughly 1 pound of weight per week, which is considered appropriate for children who are underweight.

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Increasing Dietary Fats in Food

Increasing the fats in your child’s diet is a quick and easy way to increase calories, simply because fats have more calories per gram than any other nutrient. Olive and canola oil, no-trans-fat margarine and mayonnaise can be added to foods during preparation, and an additional tablespoon of these items adds a quick 45 to 120 calories. Also, add creamy sauces or cheese to rice, pasta or vegetables to pack on those extra calories. If you are making a recipe or preparing a food, substitute non-fat or low-fat ingredients with the full-fat version. For example, when making oatmeal, avoid making it with water and instead use whole milk.

5 Ways to Increase Weight in Children - wikiHow
These toppings are often high in calories, making a meal or snack ...
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Increasing Carbohydrates in Food

While not as calorie-dense as dietary fats, carbohydrates still pack 4 calories for each gram added to food. You can help your child eat more carbohydrates and calories by offering carb-rich snack foods like raisins, dried fruits and granola. One-half cup of these foods contains up to 240 calories, and they are easy to add to puddings, yogurt and cereal. You can also increase carbohydrates by adding honey or fruit nectars to fresh fruits, applesauce or cooked cereals like oatmeal or cream of wheat.

Increasing Calories from Beverages

If your child is not a big eater, you can also help her gain weight by increasing the calories that she gets from drinks. One-hundred percent fruit juices, whole and 2 percent milk and yogurt-based smoothies all contain over 100 calories in a single, 8-ounce serving. They also pack a variety of vitamins and minerals, and the dairy-based beverages also contain 8 grams of protein. In addition, you may purchase vanilla or chocolate-flavored nutrition supplement drinks specially formulated for pediatric populations at your local grocery store or pharmacy store.

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    About the Author

    Dr. Courtney Winston is a registered/licensed dietitian, certified diabetes educator and public health educator. She holds a Master of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her doctoral degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center. Dr. Winston was recognized in 2012 with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Emerging Leader in Dietetics Award for the state of California.

    Photo Credits

    • honey image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com

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