High Energy Diet Sheet for Infants and Children
Please note, this page is printable by selecting the normal print options on your computer.
This leaflet will give you advice on how to improve your child’s diet as well as giving you ideas for increasing the energy and protein content of foods. If your child has a problem with poor weight gain the following advice will help increase their calorie intake. Many infants and children go through phases of refusing to eat certain foods, or at times refusing to eat anything at all. Although it is a very worrying and frustrating time, this is very common and most children will go through this stage.
What’s going to help?
Offer frequent meals and snacks e.g. 3 small meals a day with small snacks in between.
Keep portion sizes small. Children with poor appetites can be put off by large amounts of food.
Eat at the same time as your child if possible. Try and make meal times enjoyable social occasions.
Use small, colourful and attractive plates and bowls.
Do not allow children to fill up with drinks, as these may not be very nourishing and can reduce appetite e.g. fizzy drinks and juices.
Offer drinks only after food has been offered first.
Allow your child to be involved with the choice and preparation of the meal.
Encourage your child to hold foods and feed themselves; it’s possible your child will eat more if they are in control.
Many children are slow eaters, give your children the amount of time they need, but don’t prolong meals beyond 20 – 30 minutes.
High Energy, High Protein Foods
When a child has a small intake, it is important to ensure that the foods they are eating are high in energy and protein. Energy and protein are important to encourage growth and repair.
Milk and Dairy Foods
Use full cream milk** in cooking and cereals
Use full fat yogurts; they are an excellent snack food
Full fat cheese is a good source of protein and energy
Individual cheese portions can be given as a snack, on their own or with crackers
Meat and Alternatives
All types of meat and fish are good sources of energy and protein
Many children enjoy minced meat, sausages, chicken and fish fingers
Choose tinned fish in oil instead of brine
Eggs are high in protein and energy
Try adding beans and lentils to cooked dishes to increase the protein content
*Full cream milk should not be given as a main drink to children under 1 year of age. Breast or formula milk can be used instead
How to fortify foods
Sometimes children find it difficult to eat large quantities of food therefore it is important to fortify their foods to ensure they are receiving adequate energy and protein.
ADD grated cheese, full cream milk, butter, spread or cream to soup, sauces or mashed potato
ADD grated cheese, baked beans, margarine or butter to baked potato
ADD dried fruit, yogurt, cream, jam or honey** to breakfast cereals or puddings
ADD cream, grated cheese to scrambled eggs
*Honey should not be given to children under 1 year
Offering your child a nourishing drink is another useful way to maximise their energy and protein intake. However, make sure to offer the drink after food has been offered, to avoid making your child feel full up.
Hot drinks made with full cream milk and whipped cream e.g. hot chocolate, Ovaltine and Horlicks
Milkshakes made with full cream milk and/ or ice cream
Smoothies made with yogurt, fruit and ice cream
High Energy and Protein Meal and Snack Ideas
Cereal with full fat milk and sugar or honey
Cereal and full fat yogurt
Bread or toast with butter, margarine, jam, peanut butter or chocolate spread
Pancakes, muffins, scones, croissants with butter, margarine, jam or honey
Eggs – scrambled, boiled or poached with butter or cheese
Bacon or sausage with baked beans
Baked beans on toast with margarine and cheese
Sandwiches with meat filling, cheese, egg, peanut butter or fish
Mini pizzas with extra cheese or meat
Toasties with ham and cheese, baked beans and cheese, chicken and mayonnaise
Fried chicken with vegetables, mashed potatoes with butter and cream
Meat or vegetable curry with rice or naan bread
Stew with extra meat, beans, pulses and potatoes
Burger or sausage with beans and waffles
Chicken nuggets or turkey shapes with chips and vegetables
Spaghetti Bolognese with grated cheese and garlic bread
Macaroni cheese with extra cheese and cream
Shepherd’s pie (fortify the mashed potato if homemade) or cottage pie with chips and beans
Cheese strings/ pieces of cheddar
Strips of toast with butter, honey, chocolate spread, peanut butter, hummus, cream cheese, avocado
Chunks of avocado or banana
Miniature sandwiches; cut up into pieces
Dried fruit e.g. dried apricots, sultanas
Always incorporate fruit and vegetables on a regular basis. These are important for vitamins and minerals, despite being lower in energy. They can also be added to a higher energy / protein food e.g. strawberries and cream, fruit and yogurt, fruit and jelly.
Always look after your child’s teeth, especially when eating sugary snacks and drinks. To keep your teeth healthy, try to keep sugary foods and drinks to mealtimes and brush at least twice a day.