High energy diet for babies

All children need to eat a variety of foods to achieve a balanced diet that is essential for growth and good health. Some children who are not growing well or who have certain medical conditions may need extra calories and protein in their diet

General advice:

  • Aim to give 3 meals and 2-3 small snack daily. Spread the meals and snacks evenly throughout the day.
  • Avoid foods labelled as 'low fat' or 'diet'.
  • Avoid offering drinks 1 hour before meals as they can reduce their appetite.
  • Measure & record your child's weight regularly: once every 2 month is usually recommended.
  • All babies under 1 should take an over the counter children's multivitamin supplements each day which includes vitamin D, unless they drink 500mls of infant formula.
The 5 Food GroupsDoBest choicesTop tips
Milk, cheese, yogurt

Give your child breast or formula milk until they are at least 1 year old.
Use full fat dairy products or alternatives (the fat content should be at least 4grams / 100grams)Cheddar / cream cheese
Greek style yogurt, full fat yogurt or fromage frais or thick & creamy yogurts
Add to sauces, omelettes, scrambles eggs, jacket potatoes, mashed potato, vegetables, baked beans etc.
Fat & Oils
Fats are the richest source of calories
Avoid low fat spread. Use an oil high in mono-unsaturated fats
Butter or margarine
Olive, sunflower, rapeseed or corn oil
Full fat mayonnaise
Double or whipping cream
Spread generously and add to potatoes/ vegetables
Fry or roast foods with added fat
Drizzle foods with oil before serving

Use cream for puddings, drinks, sauces and soups
Protein rich foodsAim for 2 portions dailyMeat and meat alternatives (quorn, soya mince etc.)

Eggs, pulses (lentils, beans)

Ground almonds, peanut butter
Add fat/cook in fat to boost their calorie value. Avoid removing the fat from meat, and avoid 'lean' meats

Choose oily fish instead of white fish, fish tinned in oil rather than brine
Add to cereals, yogurts & desserts
Starchy foodsInclude at least one portion at each mealCereals, breads, potatoes, pasta and riceAdd a generous serving of butter, cream, margarine or oil
Fruit & vegetables

These are low in calories but are an important source of vitamins and minerals
Aim to give up to 5 small portions per day. One portion is about half an adult handful or a tablespoonAvocados
Dried fruit
Smoothies and fruit juices
Try mashed as a dip or in sandwiches
Limit dried fruit/smoothies to one serving a day as they are high in sugar

Serve with oil butter, margarine. cream or cheese to boost the calories

Sugary foods such as biscuits, cakes, sweets & chocolate, ice cream should be limited to after meals rather than snacks. Choose no added sugar drinks such as milk or water and avoid fizzy drinks.

Sugar is harmful to your child's teeth - aim to brush their teeth twice a day and visit the dentist regularly.

Between-meal snack ideas

Small energy dense snacks can be useful to boost nutritional intake but avoid within one hour of meals, as they may reduce their appetite:

  • Banana, dried fruit (watch the size to avoid choking risk)
  • Mashed avocado + mayonnaise, peanut butter or cream cheese on bread/toast (or bagel/crumpets)
  • Cheese pieces