Fattening Baby, Naturally

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice—just my own experience! 

At my daughter’s one-year appointment, my pediatrician recommended that we increase her weight gain by giving her Pediasure instead of milk.  Considering this same doctor had once suggested feeding our baby Bugles, Pringles, and Lorna Doone cookies just to help her pack on the pounds, my first reaction was very resistant.  After all, I wouldn’t eat those foods—did I really want to start a junk food addiction in my young child? 

I went to the store to check it out, and found that the first three ingredients of Pediasure are water, sugar, and maltodextrin.  So what is maltodextrin, anyway?  It’s a common food additive that can be produced from starch—Pediasure derives theirs from corn.  I’d been careful to feed my baby nothing but organic fruits, grains, and vegetables during her entire first year—it felt like all that care about avoiding unnatural foods would go out the window as soon as she chugged her first bottle of sugary, chocolaty, maltodextriny Pediasure. 

I wanted my baby to eat organic foods not just for health reasons—I wanted to support organic farms and dairies.  Buying Pediasure would not meet that goal, and each drink came in a separate plastic bottle.  I was sure Audrey would drink five sips and the rest would need to go down the drain.  All this hypothetical waste was driving me nuts. 

So how could I fatten my baby naturally?  In the end, I defied doctor’s orders and made sure to fortify her foods with more calories, vitamins, and fat.  My daughter ate almost anything as long as it was mixed with oatmeal.  I ground organic oats in the food processor and made her a concoction out of it.  Then I mixed in a frozen cube of pureed beans, vegetables, or fruit.  I began adding more and more ingredients until one little dish contained well over 300 calories. 

Audrey’s first bite

How I Fortified My Daughter’s Food: 


  • I started making her porridge with whole milk rather than water once she turned one.
  • I added two tablespoons of olive oil to her daily porridge ration.
  • I added a couple scoops of brown rice protein powder I found in a natural food store—it contained nothing but rice protein on the ingredients list.
  • I tossed in a couple tablespoons of flax meal.
  • I added two tablespoons of almond meal once I determined that she didn’t have a nut allergy.  Sunflower seed butter could also add fat and protein if a baby can’t eat nuts.
  • I added a drop of her multi-vitamin to this whole concoction.

We met with a dietician who applauded my efforts in fattening our baby up the natural way.  Another tip she offered was to add a couple tablespoons of cream to her milk, which we also tried for several weeks.  Eventually, she fattened up and the doctor declared that she was happy with Audrey’s weight gain.  It’s been months since she’s eaten a delectable bowl of oats, kale, olive oil, almond meal, rice protein, and flax seeds.  Hey, at least it wasn’t maltodextrin!



  1. My job keeps me very busy so I need quick and easy foods to eat throughout the day, but I have a tough time digesting most processed foods, so my wife is always on the lookout for natural foods that can provide me with some convenient (and, ideally, delicious) calories.

    She recently came home with a jar of organic coconut oil, and I have been spreading it on apples and other natural snacks. It’s very fatty and high in calories, and very delicious, plus it’s easy to spread.

    We also recently found a product called Artisana Raw Organic Vegan Amazon Bliss, which is a coconut oil concoction made with Acai, yacon, cacao, and goji berries. It’s awesome, and I highly recommend it for those looking to find natural and organic calories to fatten up with. 🙂

    Thanks for the great blog!

  2. Coconut oil spread…Yeah, I use that stuff on my hair. It’s better that gel!
    Oh wait, what?…You ate that!!

  3. THANK-YOU!!

  4. Thank you. At his one year check up, the pediatrician said my baby boy is at risk for underweight. Thank you for posting this. I will try your suggestion. I will get a bottle of MLO brown rice protein.

  5. My doctor suggested I give my daughter Spam and Ramen to fatten her up. I just discovered coconut oil a week ago and I think it is doing the trick.

    Unfortunately, my daughter does not process dairy very well. We have been making a homeade rice milk formula and have been using the brown rice protein powder. I think I am going to increase the amount I put in the formula. Thank you for your suggestions and I am glad that there are other parents with the same concerns I had.

  6. Spam and ramen?! I am amazed that we both got the advice to feed our babies junk food to fatten them up. Here so many parents are worried about toxins, sugar, and trans-fats, and our doctors are recommending them. Coconut oil/milk/cream has a lot of good, natural fats–I hope that ends up doing the trick for your daughter!

  7. I just spent a few minutes searching for this after reading it a while ago. My tiny 1 year old needs some fattening up, the doc said whole milk would probably do the trick, and I’m also follow this. Thanks!

  8. It sounds like you are feeding your daughter a vegetarian diet. My 15 month old is vegan (except when grammy sneaks her some pancakes with eggs and milk now and then 😉 ). Vegan and vegetarian diets are high in fiber, and because toddlers have a higher need percentage wise for fat (I believe 30% of caloric intake should be from fat), it’s important to emphasize not just the protein but the healthy fats for weight gain. My daughter recently went through several illnesses in a row including a nasty GI bug that left her too thin for my happiness. To fatten her up and keep her healthy, I add avocados, almond/cashew/peanut/seed butters (via banana shakes and on top of toast and in iron-fortified cereal), and healthy canola, olive and other natural oils to her breads, pastas and cooked veggies. I also like hempseeds which I’ve added to shakes – if you can find them, they’re high in zinc, iron and good fats. Fruits and veggies are very important, but that combined with whole grains can be a lot of filling bulk not so dense in calories, so I like to switch the whole wheat bread with some refined grains as well. Also, don’t forget the quinoa with some earth balance (healthy butter substitute)! Baby loves it and it’s a good source of various amino acids (protein). Finally, because she is vegan she gets about 3 bottles of formula sometimes switched with fortified soymilk for her iron, B12 and vitamin D supplementation. My daughter also loves mashed potatoes (good calorie source) with earth balance and almond milk, enriched alphabet pasta with tomato sauce (surprisingly good source of protein), bananas (yummy calories) baked beans and lentils with rice. I hope these tips may inspire other mommies/daddies out there to not give up on raising healthy children on a natural diet.

  9. Just a quick response to one of the comments – be careful with homemade baby formulas. If your baby is under 12 months and you’re not breastfeeding, it’s really difficult to mimic the specific nutritional requirements of babies that only formula or breastmilk can give them. A really good soy-based formula that’s all natural is Baby’s Only. They call it a toddler formula to promote breastfeeding up to 12 months but hey, that’s not always possible. My pediatrician confirmed the nutritional values are the same as other formulas for kids under 12 months. Babies have very specific nutrient needs and no nondairy (or dairy) milk can compare. After 12 months though is a different story. If they’re not eating dairy or meat you want to make sure they are getting enough B12, iron, zinc, vitamin D and calcium.

  10. Mary HIlligoss says

    My son just turned a year old in may. When he was 8 months old he’d eat adult food or well try. Point is when I told my doctor she said to stop and wait till hes older. well now i’m having trouble getting him to eat anything other than his bottle. He barely takes the rice. Does anyone have any ideas as to how I can get him to eat?

  11. VERY helpful blog!! My daughter is 9.5 months. She is only 15lb 9oz and has very low muscle tone. I am beginning to add beans, egg and salmon to her diet. I was wondering what other foods you would suggest to help her with weight gain and food that would help build muscle. Thanks!!

  12. Mary, someone on one of our other food posts recommended giving kids very tiny bites of things to get them to branch out. I still have trouble getting my daughter to eat much, so I don’t have any other ideas. Maybe soft finger foods instead of purees? Some kids don’t like being spoon fed.

    Nicole, the flax seed meal I mentioned in the original article might be something for you to incorporate into your daughter’s diet. And perhaps the sunflower seed butter?

  13. I would watch out for the soy-based formulas especially if you are feeding it to your baby boy, there is too much estrogen in it and it is not good for him. Do the research, you will find out it is not good to give your son.

  14. I just found your blog on my own search to fatten my one yr old!
    My dr told me the EXACT same thing and I too am not happy about pediasure:(( your tips are great and I will be using them thank you!!!

  15. Me, too. My doctor has been pushing Pediasure! Not gonna do it! I asked my doctor if she knew of an organic alternative, and she shook her head. Pretty disappointing that she had never heard of PediaSmart. PediaSmart is organic and looks like a good thing to have on hand when I can’t get all the prep done for something fresh. Thank you for your article!!!!!

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  17. I have just read this as it was linked to from your picky eaters article(see my comment there as well). I have a 3 year old who is also a picky eater and always has been. I wish I had come across this when we were having weight issues with her. At 9 mths she became an awful eater. Before then she was great at eating pureed foods and then just went off of it, but then never really wanted to eat much. Between 9 months and 16 mths she put on less than a pound. She looked anorexic and the Dr almost got me to write a food diary for her. Unforunately she was allergic to cow milk protein and we could not just smear butter on everything. She also is allergic to peanut butter as well. We were giving her fries with oil and foods like that just to maintain her weight, but I wish I had seen this 2 years ago.

  18. She never really wanted to eat much of anthing after 9 mths. At 18mths she seemed to become tolerant to dairy and made good turn around.

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  20. My daughter is underweight and refused to eat or drink any form of milk. We gave her Pediasure and she loves it. I am glad that she’s finally gaining some weigh now. Will try to feed her more using the natural way. Thanks for sharing the tips!

  21. My son is underweight and I fed him Pediasure. I am glad that he’s finally gaining some weight but, I’ll try to feed him some solid food too. Thanks for sharing the tips.


  1. […] when I wrote my Fattening Baby, Naturally post, I was searching for alternatives to Pediasure.   Although Audrey’s pediatrician wanted her […]

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