Thursday 8 March 2012

Calories and Your Premature Baby

I've written this from a parent's perspective if you have specific concerns please address them with your baby/child's GP, Health Visitor or Consultant/Dietician.

For former low birth weight babies, weaning can be a difficult time. Many first foods are low in calories, like pureed vegetables and fruits. In the first weeks of weaning I found Joseph's already low weight dropped a little, as he dropped his milk feeds a bit to make way for food. I found it all evened out, however was advised to ensure I enriched his food.

I know I found the help of other mums of premature and low birthweight children invaluable and wanted to share some of that wisdom in a blog post. I asked for ideas on Facebook last night and was overwhelmed at the response!

I think ensuring our babies get adequate nutrition is important, but we also need to make sure we instill healthy eating habits for life. I do think, whilst there is a place for double cream etc, we need to be creative, so here are some great ideas for adding calories and variety to your small person's diet. I used to vary what I used, as I didn't want Joseph's diet too high in saturated fat.

  • olive oil - add it into purees and mashed potato as well as using it in cooking
  • other oils like rapeseed, almond, peanut and sunflower 
  • avocado - either pureed, as slices or a spread
  • banana - and you can mix it with cream or full fat yoghurt
  • Greek yoghurt, a huge favourite here!
  • marscapone cheese- I used to make a cheats baby cheesecake with a crumbled rusk, a tablespoon of marscapone and then a fruit puree.
  • hoummous - commercial is fine but its very easy to make at home
  • another suggestion from Hiba is tahini, it makes a lovely dip with lemon juice
  • nut butters - there are lots of different varieties not just peanut
  • pasta - and of course it carries calorie rich sauces well
  • oily fish 
  • aubergine cooked with olive oil until soft - can be pureed, used as a dip, or a sandwich filling, thanks Hiba!
  • Kirsten has a great suggestion of offering several courses, another idea is monkey platters
  • dips - sour cream, hoummous, chocolate philadelphia, nutella
  • cheese is great and you can use different types 
  • some babies and youngsters love olives (Joseph used to!)
  • soya based yoghurts and puddings, alpro do some lovely ones
  • there are ready made powders you can add to food, but I would only use those on medical advice
  • sugar, golden syrup, maple syrup
I think if you need to boost calories its good to use a variety. I do get concerned that if you are always giving a baby say double cream, they will get used to the taste and find it hard to accept food without it. There is a body of evidence that premature babies can be prone to obesity in later life. I think one of the factors could be the eating habits they developed as infants carry on in to later life.

I do think its important to remember that not every child is going to be on the 50th centile, and naturally some children will be small. It's a good idea to get a range of advice, especially if you are unsure about what is being suggested.

The other important thing to remember is that growth does slow down naturally, and once children hit around 2, the gap does close, Joseph, although still slender, isn't that different from his peers, although still in small clothes!

What are some of the ways you help your child eat a good diet rich in calories? Any favourite recipes?



  1. Great blog and really useful information. My daughter is very small for her corrected age (9mnths but still in 3-6 months clothes) and I'm struggling to think of high calorie fooods for her to try as she is already quite fussy.

  2. To make Babies food there are lots of choices you have. You can make such kind of healthy foods by adding lots of fruits,cheese,Use beans,Yogurts etc. to make your baby more active and more healthy.

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