This post is the resource I wish I had found last year. High calorie purees, with macros, especially carbs, taken into careful consideration. As much as I thought I would do baby led weaning, Everett is 22 months old and still can’t feed himself. A store-bought puree or pouch just does not have enough calories to sustain him without making him rely too heavily on bottles for his daily needs. And if I tried to feed him two at a time, it’s too much volume and the carb count just causes huge spikes and crashes for his blood sugar. After searching for someone on the internet to tell me what to do, I finally just sat down with a spreadsheet and figured it out myself.
If I can help one mom (or dad, grandparent, or other caregiver) out there with this post, it will be so worth it to me! A child doesn’t need to have Down syndrome and Type 1 diabetes to have a need for higher calorie purees (and lower carbs possibly), it could be any child for several medical reasons; feeding tubes, texture aversions, etc. I’ll stop rambling and just get to the meat of the matter.
Note: I am by no means your child’s dietitian, so please just use this for reference and ideas.
Gather the info
Our local Walmart has Beechnut and Gerber puree options so I started by going to both their websites. At the time, I only cared about calories and carbs for Everett, so that is all I documented. Every single 2oz tub, 4oz tub, and 4oz jar of fruit and veggies that I knew he liked, I recorded the calorie and carb count on a spreadsheet.
After I had a long list, I started using formulas to see the final calorie and carb counts for food combinations. You’ll see I originally was using Beechnut’s meat purees. I had switched to those after realizing Gerber’s have about 2 carbs per jar. I recently switched back to Gerber, or a combination of both brands, due to Gerber’s calorie count being quite higher and 2 carbs no longer being as much of an issue now that Everett consumes more as he’s grown.
At this point, you may be wondering why I chose to mix store-bought purees rather than make my own. Store-bought purees have the carb count on them and are always the same size. I tried to puree strawberries once and froze into an ice cube tray. The stress of making sure I knew how many carbs I started with before blending them and then making sure I didn’t leave behind too much in the blender and how many carbs were in each ice cube was more than I could take. And that was one ingredient!
High Calorie Puree Breakfast Ideas
For so long this was peanut butter. A half tablespoon, then tablespoon, and now he has 1.5 tablespoons thinned out with water to a frosting like consistency. It’s high calorie and low carb and most of all, Everett loves the stuff!
I then started experimenting with canned coconut milk and different fruit purees. When we need to increase calories, I reached for ground flax and ground chia seeds. We are almost out of our last batch and I’m not sure if I will continue to make them. He never needs all the carbs for these bolused so I feel like I need to change the macros on them and I’m not sure how.
The most frequented breakfast these days is a mix of oatmeal, peanut butter, banana, and chia seeds. I plan to share this recipe because it is so good! The first time Everett had it, he refused and I ended up eating it. It smells good, is easy to make in batches, and he now devours it!
High Calorie Puree Lunches and Dinners
Originally, these were Everett’s dinners. They were all essentially half of a 2.5oz jar of meat, 2oz of some veggie puree, and a teaspoon of olive oil. Everett does see a dietitian multiple times a year and she was the one who told me to add olive oil to his food for added calories. This got us around the 100-calorie mark his dietitian wanted at the time and usually between 4 and 8 carbs. I would then refrigerate the other halves of the containers for his dinner the next night.
As Everett transitioned to one nap right after lunch, it became clear that he needed lower carbs before his nap and higher carb dinners. I was also about to go out of town on a work trip so I started looking into how I could make his meat, veggie, olive oil combinations into a packable lunch option.
Enter reusable pouches!
After a lot of research, I opted for these on Amazon by Simple Modern. They are super affordable and have held up so well, I have purchased two sets. Yes, we have 20 pouches we use regularly! They were much less expensive than buying containers, hold 5oz instead of the 4oz most containers hold, and they store flat. Another perk is that when Everett starts school, I can fill them with applesauce or yogurt to freeze and then that can be part of his lunch while also keeping the rest of it cold!
The pouches are also super easy to clean with a bottle brush. (Side note, I tried this silicone bottle brush and I will never go back to a sponge one!)
I also have recycled many 4oz glass jars which I usually use for his breakfasts since those have less volume. They would have originally worked with his smaller lunches months ago but now the combos I make are 5oz and that is how much the pouches hold.
The pouches freeze well. I just take lunch out the night before and let it thaw in the fridge. I have forgotten from time to time so I have placed them in water to thaw faster. Everett can’t suck out of a pouch yet but it works well to just squeeze the contents into a bowl to feed him.
At some point, I started doubling the meat and veggies and then splitting that out into three pouches, still a teaspoon of olive oil in each serving. This increased calories and it’s still the formula I use: 5oz meat, 8oz veggies, 3 teaspoons (or one tablespoon) olive oil, to make 3 meals.
I have added quinoa to the combination and by switching back to Gerber’s meat purees, I’ve been able to get to the 140-150 range for calories. Everett only has his two bottom front teeth but a few molars have been poking through so he’s able to handle more texture which is great because I don’t know how much more I can squeeze into these pouches!
- Reusable pouches (if you need more than 4oz)
- Recycled 4oz puree jars – they are free!
- Food scale (you may not need this if you don’t have to carefully track any macros)
- Pyrex measuring cups. The spouts make it easier to pour into the pouches but a mixing bowl could work as well.
- Mason jar or a glass to hold the pouch while you fill it
- Little spatulas, to scrape out every carb and calorie from the jars and tubs!
- Tape or mailing labels to label the jars and pouches
Optional add ins to boost calories or other macros:
- Olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Seed and nut butters
- Canned coconut milk
- Ground flaxseed (keep in freezer so it doesn’t go rancid)
- Chia seeds (ground if need be)
- Ground oatmeal
- Quinoa (can blend with water if need be)
- Beans (blend/smashed or whole)
The Ultimate List of DIY High Calorie Purees for Babies and Toddlers:
I hope this post isn’t information overload but instead helps give you ideas to help feed your growing child. Please reach out if you have questions or other ideas you may have tried – I’d love to connect!