This post has been updated with a new list of weight gaining recipes at the end of this post for toddlers – above 1 year old. Many readers have been asking for suggestions on best foods for weight gain in babies & toddlers. I have shared the tips that one can follow. If you are a new reader to this blog and have reached here looking for weight gaining foods or recipes for your little heart, please read this food chart for babies above 8 months. I suggest following the recipes on the post as well for a good weight gain. I would also suggest to read the comments before posting your query here as similar queries may have been answered in the comment section below. If you are looking for a food chart for baby around 6 months, you can refer this post on solids for 6 months baby.
Best foods for weight gain in babies & toddlers (0 months to 3 years)
1. Breast milk is one of the best foods for babies under 6 months to gain weight. Since mother’s milk is more nutritious than any other foods, it is good to exclusively breastfeed babies for the first 6 months. If a baby is breast fed, mum needs to eat more nutritious foods to have enough milk supply and to increase the quality of milk.
To increase the milk supply in lactating mothers’ foods like milk, lentils (DAL), garlic, flax seeds (alasi in hindi or avise ginjalu in telugu), chickpeas (chana), almonds, whole grains, methi leaves, methi seeds, dill leaves (sabbasige soppu in kannada), fennel seeds (saunf), cumin (jeera) have been proved to be beneficial. One needs to include these in their diet moderately.
At least 2 protein rich meals and a breakfast should be included in the diet of a lactating mother. For vegetarians lentils / dal is a best protein rich food. Chickpeas can be enjoyed by mums having babies older than 3 months, If using they need to be soaked overnight, soft cooked with turmeric and other Indian spices to prevent vata dosha.
Here is a simple homemade powder for increasing milk supply in lactating mothers. Dry roast equal quantities of cumin and fennel seeds till they turn aromatic. Cool them and grind to powder. Mix ½ tsp powder in ½ tsp warm ghee and consume 30 minutes before food 2 to 3 times a day. Desi ghee works best. This can be consumed for 2 weeks, followed by a break for 4 to 5 days and then repeat the cycle. This also helps to reduce colic in breastfed babies. A small portion of ajwain/ carom seeds can also be included.
2. There is also a wide population of women who are unable to breast fed due to medical or professional reasons, yet their babies tend to grow well in terms of height and weight. For babies who are not breast fed, Formula milk has been proved to be of great help. If your baby is over 6 months and you intend to stop breastfeeding, then choose a good formula milk with your pediatricians’ help. Formula milk is mostly balanced and has adequate nutrition which may not be available in dairy milk.
Formula milk helps to gain good weight in most babies, but one needs to be patient in trying out what works best for your baby. Many women express that formula milk is not good and hence should choose dairy milk. Both have their own pros and cons. In the recent years, cows raised in farms are not grass-fed and are mostly on hormones either in their feed or injected to produce more milk. So it is more unsafe than the formula milk. A thorough research is conducted before any formula milk is sold in the market. So as a mother, you are the right person to choose between cow’s milk vs formula milk. For babies above 12 months, fresh dairy milk can be used. Do not use milk that comes in tetra packs for babies and toddlers.
3. Foods like potato, pumpkin, sweet potato, dal, ghee, ragi, almonds, yogurt, eggs and milk help the baby to gain weight. Please take a pediatricians’ suggestion before you start any of these foods. As always follow a 3 day test rule.
How to make mashed potato for baby ?
Always choose hard potatoes that do not have any sprouts grown over them. Sprouted or soft potatoes are not healthy to use. Wash and peel off the skin of the potato. Cook potato in excess water either in pressure cooker or a rice cooker steam basket or in a pot. It should be soft cooked. While it is still hot, take it to a feeding bowl and mash it to soft. Add the potato stock that was left after cooking to make smooth puree. using a small steel glass you can easily mash it. Add a pinch of ajwain and ghee and serve it warm. The same way you can also make mashed sweet potato for baby. Best time to serve these is for breakfast or lunch. It can also be cooked along with rice to make a rice potato khichdi. You can find the recipe of potato rice here and recipe of sweet potato here (new post)
How much potato or sweet potato for baby?
6 months baby – 1 tsp 2 times a week
7 months baby – 1 tbsp 2 to 3 times a week
8 to 10 months – 2 tbsp. 2 to 3 times a week
10 to 12 months – 3 to 4 tbsp. 2 to 3 times a week
toddlers- use your judgement . Can be served 5 times to daily.
Serve potato or sweet potato at least 2 to 3 times a week with little ajwain powder and ghee. Avoid when baby has tummy upset, colic or spit ups.
Moong dal and urad dal help a lot to gain weight in babies & toddlers. Urad dal is a power house of nutrients, high in calcium and protein and also EFA , essential fatty acids that help to develop the brain. So Idli is a very healthy food for babies.
Using urad dal make idli and serve with mild rasam or dal ka pani and ghee.This can be fed daily. You can find the recipe of soft idli here and a rasam recipe for babies here.
Include dal preferably moong dal or tuvar dal in lunch or breakfast every day. Do not mix dal with yogurt or milk. Just a simple vegetable dal rice khichdi works great for babies in gaining weight. If your baby tends to get bored, change the vegetables used in the khichdi to give a different taste. You can find the recipe of dal khichdi here
Ragi porridge also helps to gain weight, it also strengthens the bones, teeth and helps for the overall development. Here is a complete post on how to introduce ragi to babies and how to make sprouted ragi flour for babies.
Yogurt and homemade paneer are also a good choice for babies over 8 months to gain weight. Serve yogurt alone or with brown rice and white rice in equal quantities. I always used to make one cup curd separately for both my babies since it is not recommended to serve cold yogurt from the refrigerator. Also avoid serving in the evening or night.
how much yogurt/ curd to serve for babies ? you can find the recipe of homemade curd here.
2 tbsp homemade unsweetened yogurt/ curd can be fed to 8 to 10 months baby, 2 to 3 times a week (avoid during winters)
4 tbsp can be fed to a 10 to 12 months baby. 3 to 4 times a week (avoid during winters)
Eggs also help babies to gain weight. Prefer boiled eggs instead of scrambled eggs. There is a loss of nutrition in scrambled eggs especially the protein content.
How to feed egg to baby ?
Make a hard boiled egg. Remove the yolk and take small portion of it and mash it with a pinch of cumin powder, add very little water and mash the egg to blend it well with water. It should become a smooth paste.
how much egg for 6 months old baby ?
for a 6 to 7 months baby – Start feeding a tsp of the above said mashed egg yolk. It can be served 2 to 3 times a week.
for 8 months baby – a tbsp and then increase the quantity.
for 10 months baby – by the end of 12 months a baby can eat the entire mashed yolk.
Include banana, papaya, apple, pear and chikoo (sapota). Serve banana at least 4 to 5 times a week. We give the small variety banana to babies. Avoid it when baby has cold and phlegm, serve a warm apple sauce or apple oats when the baby has cold and congestion. Banana helps to gain weight and most fruits helps to digest foods better since they contain natural digestive enzymes. The nutrients from other foods are better absorbed by the body when a good amount of fruits are consumed (the right way). Follow the rule, of feeding fruit alone without mixing with other foods at least once a day. Strictly do not serve fruits and milk together.
4. Ghee also helps to gain weight – How much ghee to serve for babies and toddlers ?
Start with only few drops a day when you introduce ghee to your baby. Try using organic and grassfed or desi ghee. Desi ghee can be found in ayurvedic stores or can also be bought online. If you notice symptoms like coughing, itchy eyes or rubbing eyes or rashes stop it. Try with a new brand or try with homemade ghee. If your baby or toddler do not like the flavour of ghee, I suggest making ghee at home. Just add few curry leaves towards the end when you make ghee at home, it adds a good aroma.
Excess usage of ghee may suppress the baby’s appetite, so use only as needed, a mother is the best judge. I followed the following measures for my babies and no cheese or butter was given to them. If using butter then reduce the proportionate amount of ghee from the below mentioned quantity.
6 months ½ tsp ghee divided among 2 servings – start with only a few drops of melted ghee
8 months ¾ to 1 tsp ghee divided among 2 servings
10 months 1 to 1 ¼ tsp ghee divided among 3 servings
12 months on wards 1 to 1 ½ tsp ghee divided among 3 servings
Some babies may not digest fats in ghee well especially if formula milk, cheese, or butter are already a part of the diet. You can try with only half of the above quantity.
5. Can i use almonds / badam for my baby?
Experts advice not to introduce nuts to babies until 1 year as they may end up with severe allergies. So i would suggest waiting until your baby turns an year old especially if there is an history of allergy in your family. However i have used almonds from 8 months for both my babies. Those who would like to try may start with almonds since these are the only kind of nuts that are slightly alkaline (apart from chestnuts). Alkaline foods help us to keep our body healthy and energetic. Always try using soaked almonds. Soaking also increases the alkaline nature and hence digest well. Soaking for about 5 to 6 hours also helps to peel the skin. They can be ground with little water and then used to cook baby foods like oats, ragi, rice etc.
6. Physical activity
Allow the baby to crawl freely, do not restrict your babies to prams or rocking chairs. Being physically active helps babies feel hungry in time. They are less fussy and eat or drink well.
Burping is very important as it helps to relieve the babies from colic and they tend to drink better. Gently Burp before feeding, in between the feeds, Burp after the feed. Keep the baby in upright position for at least 15 minutes after a feed.
Foods for weight gain in toddlers (above 1 year)
Pesarattu with ghee
Idli with ghee (1:2 proportion) – use search box for idli recipe
Soft thick dosa with boiled mashed potato
Chick pea / chana soup
chana dosa (with steamed mashed carrots)
moong dal soup
oats uttapam (use carrot for topping, follow method 2)
jowar dosa: you can make uttapam with carrot topping. Jowar makes bones strong and helps to gain good weight.
ragi mudde with rasam or any soup.
paneer paratha – no stuffing, good finger food too for snack in the evening
Boiled egg – boiled eggs have more nutrition than scrambled eggs. So try serving boiled egg with mild flavorings like pepper, cumin powder, ajwain and salt.
Suggestions from experienced mothers are welcome and highly appreciated to enhance this page.
Disclaimer: Please check with a paediatrician before you follow any of the tips or foods mentioned in this post.
My Heartfelt Thanks to all the Readers who have been consistently sharing with us their personal experiences with their babies, this has helped many new mothers to understand the baby food patterns and other food related issues.
Wishing a Wonderful Motherhood to all the MUMS