Energy Boosting During Baby's First Year

What is energy boosting?

Babies who are not eating well, or who need a lot of calories, may have problems such as the following:

  • getting tired more easily
  • having trouble gaining weight normally
  • losing weight

To gain weight and have more energy, these babies need to get more calories from what they eat and drink. It can be hard to get a baby to eat more. But you can increase the amount of calories in the food your baby does eat. This is called energy boosting.

Two ways to get your baby to eat more calories

Dietitians have two general strategies to increase a baby's calories:

  • Offer your baby foods that are highest in calories first. Offer the lowest in calories last.
  • Add extra calories to your baby's foods.

High-calorie foods first

Your baby can only eat or drink a certain amount at any one feeding time. The best thing to do is to begin feeding times with foods that are the highest in calories. If your child is still hungry after that, then you can offer foods that are lower in calories.

Here are foods that babies typically eat in their first year of life, rated by calories:

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Highest calorie foods

  • breast milk or formula
  • infant cereals
  • strained meats

Baby foods labelled "meat with vegetables" have fewer calories than meat alone.

Baby foods labelled "vegetables with meat" have fewer calories than "meat with vegetables."

Lower calorie foods

  • custards
  • pureed or mashed fruits

Strained desserts, yogurts, and custards have more calories than strained fruits alone.

Lowest calorie foods

  • pureed or mashed vegetables

Adding extra calories to your baby's foods

Here are some ways you can add extra calories to your baby's food:

With cereal

Mix infant cereal with expressed breast milk or formula instead of water.

With meat and vegetables

Add 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) of margarine or oil to every 1/4 cup (60 ml or 2 oz) of meat and vegetable baby food.

With fruit and desserts

Add 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) of table cream to each 1/4 cup (60 ml or 2 oz) of pureed or mashed fruit baby food. Table cream will have the words "18% m.f." on the carton.

Do not give your baby low-calorie drinks

Drinks such as water, tea, and coffee do not have any calories, so do not give them to your baby.

Juice does have calories, but it does not have as many as the foods listed above. Juice may fill up your baby's tummy and make her less hungry. Try not to give your baby juice unless your baby is still hungry after eating high-calorie foods.

Other tips and suggestions

Write down any other ideas you have here:


Your dietitian also recommends:




Call your dietitian if you have any questions:





Jennifer Buccino, MEd, RD, CDE

Kellie Welch, RD