Dense breads such as those made with black rye or oats are higher in calories, but not all toddlers might like them -- especially if they're used to eating white bread. If your toddler is not loving these breads, try introducing them slowly or offering them toasted and along dips and sauces for extra flavor. When choosing breakfast cereals, pick those with added fruits or nuts, which also increase the calorie count. The National Health Service also recommends adding other carbohydrates to the diet, such as pasta, potatoes and rice.
Dairy products are good for toddlers for several reasons. First, they're an excellent source of calcium, which toddlers need because they're growing and building up their bones, according to the National Health Service. If you choose whole milk and full-fat dairy products, you'll also be adding lots of fat and calories to the diet, which can help your toddler gain weight. Remember that dairy provides saturated fat, so you don't want to overdo it. A good way to maintain a balance is to ensure your toddler is also getting protein from other sources, and not just dairy. Peanut butter, nuts and meats are also good sources of calories and protein, according to Nutrition 411.
An easy way to add calories to your toddler's diet is to provide tons of dips, sauces and extras, according to the website AskDrSears.com. Both cottage and cream cheese are good starting points, but don't just stop there. Try guacamole, peanut butter and yogurt as possibilities, depending on what foods they're meant to go with. You can even puree your own fruits and offer them as dip for crackers.
Desserts and candy might not be the ideal choice when it comes to nutrition, but they do provide lots of extra calories. When it comes to toddlers, the trick is to choose sweets that are high in calories but also provide some nutrition, according to Nutrition 411. Examples of nutritious sweets that can help with weight gain include fruit smoothies made with whole milk, pancakes with syrup, fruit roll-ups, banana muffins, dried fruit and pudding, according to Nutrition 411.
A berry smoothie is not only a good source of protein, but also a great way to get more antioxidants into a toddler. This recipe, published by Kids Health, calls for 1/2 cup raspberries, 1/2 cup strawberries, 1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt, and 1/3 cup skim milk to be added to a blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth, pour and serve. Each 3/4 cup serving boasts 8 grams of protein. This smoothie is nutritious, delicious, and the bright colors make it attractive too.
Tropical Fruit-Yogurt Smoothie
A smoothie can sometimes be a meal for a toddler who is teething and acting disinterested in eating food. This Tropical Fruit-Yogurt Smoothie recipe, published on the web site Eat Right, has all the essential ingredients for a meal-replacement smoothie. Just add 6 ounces passion fruit, guava, or other fruit-flavored fat-free yogurt, 1 medium chopped mango, 1 small banana, 1/3 cup uncooked, rolled oats, 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger, 1/2 cup pineapple or orange juice, and 1/2 cup fat-free milk to a blender. Blend until smooth, and this treat is ready to enjoy. If the consistency is too thick, additional milk or juice can be added. This smoothie contains 8 grams of protein per serving, and also has a wealth of vitamin C.
Avocado Melon Smoothie
The Food and Drug Administration's site Choose My Plate has many recipes. This avocado melon smoothie offers 13 grams of protein per serving. Avocados are considered a super food and are very high in protein. This recipes calls for 1 large, ripe avocado, 1 cup honeydew melon chunks, 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice, 1 cup skim milk, 1 cup fat-free yogurt, 1/2 cup 100 percent apple juice or white grape juice, and 1 tablespoon honey, or pure maple syrup if the toddler is not yet ready for honey. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth, and it is ready to enjoy.
The United States Department of Agriculture publishes recipes on its resource site SNAP-Ed Connection. They offer smoothie options, including this high protein fruit smoothie. The USDA’s recipe calls for 1 large banana, 1 cup fresh peaches or strawberries, 8 ounces low-fat vanilla yogurt, and 1/2 cup fruit juice. They recommend blending all the ingredients together until smooth. Each serving yields 7 grams of protein, and each recipe yields 2 servings.
Veggie and Fruit Faces
Edible faces will not only serve as a party snack but will be a fun craft activity for the preschoolers. Slice up several types of vegetables for the children to create facial features. Sliced cucumbers can be used for eyes, red pepper strips can be used for smiles, sliced grape tomatoes for noses and so on. Place the chopped vegetables in small bowls and lay a whole-wheat tortilla in front of each child. Allow preschoolers to select pieces from the bowls to arrange a face on their tortillas. Let them sprinkle on shredded low-fat cheese for hair. Additionally, slice pieces of fruit for children to use to make fruity faces.
Bite-sized sandwiches will be ideal for preschool party guests to grasp with their small hands. Simply fill whole-grain sandwiches with healthy spreads, such as avocado, hummus or light cream cheese. For a meat-filled sandwich option, try low-fat turkey and cheese. Transform the sandwiches to coincide with your preschooler's party theme to add a creative touch to the party. Press cookie cutters on top and remove the excess bread to create the perfect shape. If your little guy is having a space-themed party, make rocket or alien sandwiches. For a girl who adores princesses, make crown and glass slipper sandwiches for her and her friends to nibble on.
Whole-Wheat Mini Pizzas
Instead of ordering a few greasy pizzas from a restaurant for preschoolers to eat, create a healthy alternative at home. Split open several whole-wheat English muffins. Simply spread on tomato sauce and sprinkle low-fat cheese on the halves. Top the halves with sliced fresh vegetables, such as green pepper strips and chopped olives. Place them on a baking sheet and put the pizzas in the oven. Bake until the cheese is melted. For a fun party activity, let the preschoolers pretend to be little chefs and help you with the pizza-making process. They can sprinkle on the cheese and place toppings on the pizzas before baking.
Layered Yogurt Parfaits
Birthday cake and cupcakes are the traditional birthday desserts for the children's party menu. Substitute the sugary treats with healthy yogurt parfaits. Begin the parfaits by placing spoonfuls of vanilla yogurt in clear plastic cups. Then, put in a handful of whole-grain cereal. Follow with a layer of fresh, sliced strawberries or blueberries. Continue the layers until you've reached the top of each cup. Remember to smooth each layer to create a neat appearance. Drizzle honey on top of each parfait. Alternatively, you can substitute crumbled low-fat granola in place of the cereal or low-fat whipped cream in place of the yogurt.