Underweight Child: Strategies for Safe Weight Gain

 Underweight Child: Strategies for Safe Weight Gain

As a parent, it can be concerning if your child is underweight. However, it’s important to remember that children come in all shapes and sizes, and weight is just one aspect of overall health. That being said, there are steps you can take to help your child healthily gain weight.


Here are some ways you can add high-calorie foods to your child’s diet without making them too full:


  • Dairy
    • Use higher fat milk
    • Add cheese to pasta, potatoes, mashed potato, salads, vegetables and burgers
    • Add cream cheese to bread, crackers, sandwiches, pasta and muffins
    • Add feta or goat cheese in salads


  • Nuts & Seeds
    • Add nut butter on crackers or fruit slices
    • Sprinkle seeds like flaxseed, hemp seeds, and chia seeds into yogurt, smoothies or cereals
    • Use trail mix with dried fruits and nuts
    • Make homemade granola bars with dried fruits, tahini, chocolate, seeds and nuts


  • Olive oil & olives
    • Add extra olive oil on when cooking lean meats, vegetables, stir-fry or soups
    • Top food with sauces and dressing
    • Add olives to pasta, pizza and salad, or just eat them plain
    • Dip bread in olive oil and vinegar
    • Toss pasta with olive oil before adding sauce


  • Avocado
    • Add avocado slices to your sandwich or salad
    • Add guacamole to your mexican food or sandwich


  • High-calorie drinks
    • Chocolate milk
    • Fruit juices
    • Smoothies (with milk, yogurt, frozen fruits, oats, honey, nut butter)



High caloric meal ideas:

  • Oat pancakes with banana, peanut butter, honey or jam
  • Homemade pizza with cheddar cheese
  • Homemade nachos with baked tortillas chips, whole beans, melted cheese, olives, guacamole, salsa and sour cream
  • Omelet with cheese or feta and olives
  • Homemade cheeseburger with wholewheat bun and baked potatoes
  • Mac & cheese with chicken thighs
  • Steak fajitas with guacamole
  • Parmesan-crusted chicken with mashed potato and vegetables
  • Pesto pasta with chicken and grated parmesan
  • Chicken satay with peanut butter sauce


Other strategies:

  • Avoid offering water or other liquids with main meals
  • Have scheduled meal program
  • Do not skip meals
  • Add snacks between their meals
  • Make mealtime pleasant



When it comes to nourishing your child, discovering new favourites is always a trial and error. Weight gain should be done in a gradual and healthy manner. Remember, it’s not just about increasing calorie intake, it’s also about providing a balance of nutrients and healthy foods to support overall growth and development. With the right approach and guidance, your child can gain weight in a healthy way.



Eleana Liasidou

Clinical Dietitian- Nutritionist, MSc