Getting children to eat enough calories and protein can be a real challenge for parents. Eating well can be especially hard for children who have a medical and/or feeding problem. Here are some ideas to help boost calories and protein without giving little tummies too much volume to handle.
Who may have a need for increasing calories and protein in their diet?
- Children who have difficulty chewing and swallowing
- “Picky” eaters
- Children who are trying to wean off of tube feeding onto a table food diet
- Children with poor growth
- Children who have frequent illness or infections that increase calorie and protein needs
- Children with extra-high activity levels (Example: a child who is constantly moving his/her upper and/or lower body (such as certain types of cerebral palsy)
Calorie and Protein Boosters
Eggs (75 calories and 7 grams of protein per egg) – Add to salads, casseroles, cooked cereals; serve as egg salad, scrambled or hardboiled. (Do not use raw eggs in uncooked items – this poses a large risk for food-borne illness). Cooked egg yolks are considered safe after nine months of age, but hold off on egg whites until after one year to reduce allergy risk.
Avocado (160 calories, 2 grams protein per 1/2) – One of our favorite “superfoods,” it is packed with fiber, vitamins and “good fats”. Serve sliced, mixed in salads or sandwiches, mashed into casseroles or purees, made into smoothies.
Butter or Margarine (45 calories per teaspoon) – Mix in casseroles, baby food, sandwiches, vegetables, cooked cereals and bread products. Dairy free versions are also available.
Cheeses (approximately 100 calories, 7 grams of protein per ounce) – Try string cheese or sliced cheese as a snack. Sprinkle in baby food, cooked cereals or over potatoes or pasta. Melt in casseroles, vegetables and soups. Dairy free versions are also available.
Wheat Germ (25 calories, 2 grams of protein per tablespoon) – **also a good source of zinc** – Add 1-2 Tbsp. to casseroles, cooked cereals, yogurt and cooked items (muffins or breads).
Sour Cream (25 calories per tablespoon) – Add to potatoes, casseroles, and use as ingredient in dip for vegetables and crackers.
Peanut Butter (95 calories, 4 grams of protein per tablespoon) – Add to toast, crackers, pancakes, various recipes, or spread on fruits (sliced apple/banana) or veggies (carrots/celery).
Submitted by Sharon Wallace, RD, CSP, LDN, one of our Feeding Team Dietitians.