High Energy Eating for Children
This information is for children who have difficulty gaining weight. If you are concerned about your child’s growth you
should speak to your GP, Paediatrician or Early Childhood Nurse. A dietitian can provide advice on feeding your child.
This information, with its food examples, is intended for educational purposes only and does not constitute SCHN/JHCH
endorsement of any particular branded food product.
Some children need added protein and energy to assist with their weight gain and growth. The table below provides
some suggestions for increasing the energy and protein content of your child’s diet:
Uses to boost energy and protein
= high energy
= high energy
Meat and
= high protein
= high energy
= high protein
Dairy products
Use for frying meats
Add into mashed vegetables (e.g. mashed potato)
Drizzle over the top of rice, noodles, pasta and vegetables
As above with oil; plus
Spread thickly on sandwiches, toast, crackers and biscuits
Fry with oil
Examples include beef, chicken, lamb, pork and fish.
Try making meatballs or patties using beef mince, chicken mince or cooked fish.
Baked beans, lentils and legumes are meat alternatives. To boost the energy content add
margarine, grated cheese or oil.
Double up protein in a sandwich by including meat and cheese together, or use 2 layers of
Use as a spread on sandwiches and crackers
Mash with sour cream and use as a dip with vegetables or crackers.
Can be used as a binder in foods such as meatballs.
Use to dip toast “soldiers” into egg yolk
Make high energy scrambled eggs using cream, cheese, oil. Add ham or bacon if desired.
Mash egg with mayonnaise to use as a sandwich filling
Full fat dairy products are recommended for children under the age of 2 years. If your child is
having difficulty gaining weight, full fat dairy is recommended.
This document was last reviewed on 1 September 2015
© The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick and Kaleidoscope Children, Young People and Families.
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= high protein
= high protein
= high energy
Nuts & seeds
= high protein, high
Other high energy
Examples include milk, yoghurt, cheese, cream cheese, custard, ice cream, sour cream.
Include dairy-based snacks regularly through the day e.g. yoghurt/custard with fruit pieces to
dip, cream cheese as a dip or spread on crackers/sandwiches, cheese cubes or cheese sticks
See recipe for high protein milk on next page
Grate into vegetables, pasta, rice, bolognaise sauce, casseroles, baked beans or tinned
spaghetti on toast
Add to sandwiches
Make a cheese sauce to serve on vegetables
Add to yoghurt & custard
Mix into mashed potato and other mashed vegetables
Add to soups or casseroles
Mix into cereals e.g. Weetbix, porridge
** Note whole nuts are a choking hazard for children under 5 years **
 Use smooth peanut butter or other nut spreads on sandwiches, toast, biscuits, crackers
 Use hommus as a spread on sandwiches, crackers or as a dip
Choose honey, jam, Nutella TM and peanut butter for spreads
Choose milk or fruit juice over water
Add MiloTM or flavoured toppings to ice-cream and milk drinks
Tips to increase your child’s intake:
Replace “low fat” or “diet” foods with full cream/full calorie options
Choose foods that need less chewing and are easier to eat (e.g. mince meat/meatballs are easier to chew
than a steak/chops)
Include high energy and high protein foods at each meal and snack through the day
Aim to include 3 meals and 2-3 snacks through the day
Don’t let your child drink a lot of fluid around mealtimes – this can fill them up
Add sauces, gravies, dressings to food
Always serve fruit/vegetables with a dip e.g. yoghurt, custard, hommus, cream cheese, avocado
Be prepared: take ready-to-eat high energy snacks when going out, e.g. tub of yoghurt/custard, cheese &
crackers, crackers/biscuits with a spread, mini container with dip and pre-cut vegies, nut spread on crackers.
Refer to “managing toddler mealtimes” factsheet for strategies to manage mealtime behaviours.
Meal ideas:
Porridge made on milk with added cream, sugar/honey
Toasted cheese sandwich with ham, tomato, margarine
spread on both sides of the bread
Egg on toast with melted cheese and avocado spread
Cereal with milk, cream and added sugar/honey/dried
Baked beans with melted cheese on toast spread with
Sandwich with: egg & mayonnaise, chicken & avocado,
sliced meat (e.g. ham, turkey, beef) & cheese
Mini pizzas
Leftovers from last night’s dinner
Peanut butter on toast
Crumbed chicken pieces or fish fingers served with
Yoghurt, custard, Fruche™, Yogo™, icecream, frozen
© The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick and Kaleidoscope Children, Young People and Families.
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vegetables drizzled with oil or topped with white sauce
Risotto made with cream, parmesan cheese and bacon
Creamy rice pudding e.g. Le Rice™
Casserole with added oil or margarine, served with
mashed potato and grated cheese
Crackers with cheese or spread with hommus/avocado
Quiche or omelette with cheese, ham, tomato
Macaroni cheese or tuna mornay
Nachos with mince meat, cheese, sour cream, avocado
Potato bake with creamy sauce & cheese
Tinned fruit or fruit pieces with custard, icecream, yoghurt
Flavoured milk or a smoothie made with high protein milk,
added icecream, honey, malt, cream, yoghurt, Milo™ or
Cereal with high protein milk
Nuts (** not for children under 5 years due to choking
risk) with yoghurt and dried fruit OR peanut butter on
High protein milk recipe:
To every 1 cup of milk, add 1-2 heaped tablespoons of milk powder (either full cream or skim milk powder)
Make up 1 litre by adding 4 heaped tablespoons, keep in the fridge, and use as needed.
Use this milk on cereal, for cooking, in desserts, and wherever else you would usually use milk.
Your dietitian may give you a special recipe for high energy milk
If your child is lactose intolerant:
Cheese is still suitable to include as it contains very little lactose
Low lactose milk (e.g. Zymil, Liddell’s) or calcium-fortified soy milk (e.g. So Good) can be used in place of milk
Some children will still tolerate yoghurt if they are lactose intolerant. There are also low lactose yoghurts
available (e.g. Liddell’s, Vaalia lactose free)
A note about carbohydrate supplements (e.g. CarbPlus, Polyjoule): ask your dietitian if these are suitable for your
child. Always follow the directions of your dietitian or doctor when using these products.
© The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick and Kaleidoscope Children, Young People and Families.
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