The best 19 high calorie foods for babies/toddlers, tips for baby weight gain, and high calorie baby food recipes and easy add-ins. Everything you need in one spot!
There are two reasons parents are often looking for high calorie foods for their babies. The most common reason is for peace of mind. As parents, we love to know that our babies are getting lots of nutrition and calories so they can grow big and healthy. And, truth be told, while it’s totally fine, many baby foods are very low in calories.
The second reason that you may be looking for high calorie foods is because you either feel, or have been told, that your baby is small and maybe even needs to put on weight. While in some cases, weight gain can be a very important goal, more often, those extra calories are simply a nice buffer. For those of you that are in a dire weight situation, I’ll have some extra tips for you at the end of this post.
As an OT working with babies, I’ve talked with families that very much did need or want to focus on high calorie foods for babies with weight gain in mind. This list has all of the foods and tricks I’ve used over the years to get those extra calories in! Make sure you don’t miss the free printable of this list at the end of the post.
Also, this list of foods that are higher calorie will work perfectly for toddlers too!
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High Calorie Foods for Babies
This list is for babies that are at least 5-6 months old and are totally appropriate through toddler age and beyond. If your baby is under 4 months old, breast milk and formula is the best and only option, and your pediatrician should be giving you guidance if weight gain is a concern at this point. If you’re concerned about a sensitive gag reflex or your baby has difficulty eating, head to this baby gagging guide.
Most of the foods you’ll find on the list below can be pureed to either add into or create baby food. I’ll share some specific recipes at the end for high calorie baby food blends! Otherwise, if your baby is already eating finger foods, these high calorie foods can be served in diced or stick-shaped pieces.
- Perfect finger foods and easy to mash or puree, not to mention super healthy brain food!
- Incredibly easy to add to many foods because of it’s mild taste and creamy mashed texture when its ripe. If avocado’s are new to you, read how to cut and prepare one here.
Whole Fat Yogurt
- At 6 months of age, babies can have yogurt, which they often love! Make sure it’s whole fat, not 2% or skim, which many yogurts are.
- Classic baby food perfect for dicing, slicing, and pureeing. Babies often love this super sweet fruit that packs a big calorie punch!
- Scrambled or omelet style eggs are often best for calories because baby is sure to get the yolk. Don’t offer hard boiled eggs too often if your baby always skips out on the high calorie yolk.
- A super versatile brain food that can be offered diced, mashed, or as fries. Think about adding in some butter and even a little syrup if you really need those extra calories.
- Easy to puree these and add into other baby foods. Or, mix with noodles, rice, or spread on toast.
Vegetable and Fruit Breads (zucchini/banana/pumpkin, etc.)
- So many different variations you can make, all of which are higher in calories. My favorite recipe is this banana, pumpkin, sweet potato bread. It’s a triple threat and filled with lots of “extra” but healthy calories.
- Full of healthy fats and calories, salmon flakes apart easily for baby to feed themselves and it’s easily added to other foods, even baby food when blended up together. Or, make it one of my favorite ways and turn it into salmon patties that can be easily diced.
- Serve like oatmeal for breakfast. Can be added to many recipes like meatballs, cookies, and mac and cheese.
- Not just for your grandma! Grab the full fat to dish up to your baby.
*Learn 5 Big Mistakes that Parents (Unknowingly) Make When Feeding Their Baby or Toddler Table Foods in my free workshop. And, learn what to do to help them eat well!*
Nut Butters (peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower butter)
- Yes, peanut butter is safe, but talk to your doctor if you’re nervous. Use it to spread on toast and add into foods whenever you can. My middle son LOVED this not spicy peanut sauce when he was a baby on his noodles.
Ground Meats (beef, lamb, pork, dark chicken)
- The high protein and calories are a big score here. Make sure you’re also buying the highest fat content possible. Think meatloaf, meatballs, hamburgers, crumbles, etc.
- Keep checking those labels, not all breads are created equal. Go for whole grains and whole wheat to get the most calories and nutrition. Of course, croissants and cinnamon swirl breads will bring a load of calories, too!
- Another high hitting calorie winner that can be served diced, sliced, or shredded. Cheese is also easily added into baby food, casseroles, or other purees to up calories even more.
- Often on a baby’s favorite list, take opportunities to maximize these with calories, even if you’re making from a box. You can easily add flax seed, almond flour, chia seeds, and/or oat bran to make pancakes and waffles heavy in calories. We regularly make these pumpkin waffles in my house, adding in a quarter to a half cup of any of the above ingredients will work!
- Be generous in adding butter on toast and rolls. Think outside the box and stick up to a tablespoon in any of their pureed or casserole like foods, too! You can easily do this for just their serving so the whole family isn’t eating calorie heavy.
Added oil (coconut/olive oil)
- In the same way, add olive oil after cooking or coconut oil while heating and cooking foods.
Added sour cream
- You aren’t going to give your baby a bowl of sour cream, but a tablespoon or two of full fat sour cream can really add a lot of calories quickly. Whole fat Greek yogurt works the same way!
Tips for Using High Calorie Foods for Baby Weight Gain
I’m a mom, too, I get the worry. It can be suffocating sometimes how much I worry about my children, and when I think back to when they were babies, it can just take your breath your away. If your baby isn’t gaining weight well, it can downright consume you, understandably so.
There is hope though, and as a feeding therapist, I can tell you there are solutions, truly even for the most severe babes. Let’s walk through a few steps I’d suggest if you are in this not-so-fun place:
1.Check this guide on normal weight gain for babies to make sure your concerns are justified. I’m not saying to ignore your concerns one way or the other, but having a reference point can be helpful, of course, all babies are unique. And, no matter what the situation, talk to your child’s pediatrician, if you haven’t already.
2. Whenever you’re feeding your baby any food at all, ask yourself if you’re maximizing the calories. Sometimes you won’t be able to, when it’s a puff (which are very low calorie by the way), but often you’ll be able to add something to the food you’re already giving them.
The end of this list focused on those add ins, use one every time you are feeding a puree or casserole. Just watch that you haven’t made it unpalatable.
If you suddenly add a lot of something that is foreign, they might refuse to eat it.
3. Take it a step further if you are in a desperate weight situation and even use maple syrup or honey (if they are over the age of 1). For now, you have to focus on the calories and can scale back on the sugar in the future. As much as possible, rotate in other add-ins like yogurt, butter, and oils. Don’t forget about adding these types of food to breads and toasts as well!
4. If your baby isn’t eating well, check in to make sure it isn’t because of sensory processing related difficulties with eating. Some babies that are sensitive to the way textures feel will refuse baby food right out the gate. Other babies might have a really hard time moving to table foods. Read my complete guide on how to transition to finger foods here (lots of tips for babies that are having a hard time with it.)
You can also grab a seat in free workshop: 5 Big Feeding Mistakes That Are Stopping Your Child From Learning to Eat Table Foods.
5. Plan ahead. Sounds simple, but it can have a really big impact. Pick one day out of the week and make sure you have all the ingredients you want to include in your baby’s meals so you have them when you need them. Also, write out their meals and even their snacks. When you step back and look at it, you’ll be able make sure you’re maximizing every opportunity.
High Calorie Baby Food Recipes
As I mentioned earlier, you can use most of the high calorie foods listed to stick in a blender and hit puree. Don’t forget to add in some oil, butter, nut butter, yogurt, or sour cream to up the calories (if you’re going for big calories). In the pic above, I had blueberries (not high calorie) and added yogurt and flax seed. If not, these combo’s below stand as high calorie on their own.
Avocado + Pear Popsicle’s for Babies
If you want more inspiration, this is my favorite baby food book and it has lots of table food recipes too. Did I mention it’s written by a dietitian, so healthy weight gain is kept in mind throughout! And, click this link if you want my tutorial making your own high calorie baby food. Remember that any of these foods can be hand mashed or pureed and added to store bought foods as well. For mashing, I used this hand mill with a little crank, super quick. But, when my babies were smaller and I needed purees super smooth, I loved using a bullet blender like this one.
Want a Free Printable?
I have a free High Calorie Baby Food list you can print out. You can get it here and I’ll send it to your inbox.
More Food Ideas for Babies
Mega List of Table Foods for Your Baby or Toddler
The Ultimate List of Baby/Toddler Meal Ideas
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Alisha Grogan is a licensed occupational therapist and founder of Your Kid’s Table. She has over 14 years experience with expertise in sensory processing and feeding development in babies, toddlers, and children. Alisha also has 3 boys of her own at home. Learn more about her here.
Can you please send me the chart?
Hi can I please have the chart? My baby is 10 months and not gaining weight 🙁
hi my baby is been on NG feeds since he was 4month old now he is well and 10 month old.i need help for making transition from tube to bottle feed because he doesnt want to take bottle .he is weaning very well [thanks to you plan ] gaining weight.but i heard they have to have lots of milk still. any help plzzzzzzzz
Hi Sarah, this is so hard, you’re right and you shouldn’t be managing it alone, do you have a feeding team you can consult because there’s a lot to consider when putting together a plan to have the tube removed.
Pls help me my 1year old daughter is not gaining weight ,pls and she loves breast milk only she doesn’t like milk what do I do ?
I know it’s really hard Ochuko, I’d talk to your doctor, as they should be making recommendations and I’d also try some of the techniques from the post.
Print out please! My daughter is 5 months and only weighs 13 pounds. I struggle to get her to gain weight like the Who chart says. I’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work. She’s also very picky. Thus far only likes sweet potato and bananas
Pls send Copy to take print ,
Your suggestion are very good , i want to give my baby.
This is a great list! Thanks for this! My baby has shown signs of readiness for solids so I’d love for some preparations! Printable chart please?
can we use them for 4 months baby?
I’d check with your pediatrician!
Print out pls! My baby needs more calories but she has a dairy/soy/cows milk allergy 🙁
Printable copy please as I have a premature almost 2 year old that is underweight and we have just been told by a specialist to start high calorie high protein diet. She was 1.2 pounds when she was born and she is only 14.9 pounds now..She is extremely active and her development is great she just needs to gain weight. not even 1% on the growth chart. Has always been on her own chart and has always had issues gaining weight even before she got discharge from the NICU. Thank you for the information and article.
That’s a great idea Sadie, thank you. I’m glad this was helpful, wishing you the best!
Thanx a lot for this article,I really pray that it will help my 9 and a half month old son,He was 3.0kg at birth and our last clinic at 9mnths was 7.3kg..I will definitely try new menu with high calories and hope for the best..
Hope it’s going well!
Good morning. Thank you for this article. My daughter is going through such a difficult time with her first baby girl. She has gone through so much – allergy silent reflux, full bottle aversion, Dream feeding, now on neocate and solids, is eating fairly well but not really gaining weight. 7 and a half months and weighs 6.6kg. She was 3.7 at birth. Active happy little baby, sleeps well. Quite tall and so delicate looking.
Any help would be so apppreciated. Worried Nana.
Aww you’re so sweet Julie! I’d definitely use some of these high calorie combos. I’m hoping she’s also being followed by a pediatric GI and possibly a feeding therapist? I’d look into both of those if not:) Wishing you the best!
Hey Alisha! I just stumbled on this post from a group member’s page…and the timing was perfect! We just got done talking about starting solids with the Preemie Power group parents live this morning and we were talking about calories since a lot of preemies struggle with growth. You keep putting out such quality information, I can’t keep up!
You’re so sweet, glad it was helpful Wendy!
The baby high calories food printable plz
It would have been awesome to read this article 4 or 5 years ago, when strugling to help my premature girl gain some weight! So many things I would have done diferently since she refuced most textures. Thank u for all the help. You are amazing.
Aww thanks Mary!!!
Thank you! This is a very helpful blog. I’m a mom of twins with cystic fibrosis, and it is very important to keep a high calorie diet, but a healthy diet as well. Thanks again for some fresh ideas for our kitchen.
That’s great Kalista! Thanks for sharing that, wishing you all the best!
Thanks for you charts!!!!!