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Foods for Skinny Kids to Bulk Up

By Andrea Cespedes ; Updated June 13, 2017

Kids who are underweight may suffer from illnesses and social teasing. Adding calories to kids’ diets can help them put on pounds and fill out. Help your children choose calorie-dense, nutritious foods over junk foods which will not support improved health or muscle gain.


Avocados are a dense source of calories with 368 calories per pureed cup. Combine with lime juice and a little garlic salt to make a dip that your kids may enjoy with baked chips or pretzels.


Make smoothies that resemble milk shakes to help your kids gain weight. Combine 1 cup milk with a frozen banana, 2 tbsp. peanut butter and 1 tbsp. chocolate syrup to create a 475 calorie drink with calcium, potassium and unsaturated fats. Other flavor combinations include frozen strawberries and orange juice with frozen yogurt or pineapple, shredded coconut and plain yogurt.

Snack Mixes

Help your child put together calorie-dense snack mixes that they can stash in a backpack for a between-class calorie boost. Combine nuts, dried fruit, dark chocolate chips, granola cereal chunks and pretzels of your child’s choosing. The nuts are a source of heart-healthy fats, vitamin E and magnesium. Dried fruits provide fiber and a concentrated amount of vitamins and minerals. Dark chocolate offers antioxidants, granola has fiber and pretzels provide calories in the form of energy-producing carbohydrates.


Cheese is a source of calcium and phosphorus, which supports your child’s skeletal development. Cheese also contains approximately 100 calories per oz., so add it to casseroles, sandwiches and soups. Sprinkle cheese over mashed potatoes or other vegetables. Offer cheese and dense whole grain crackers or a grilled cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread as a snack.


When trying to get your child to eat more to bulk up, you must choose foods he is willing to eat. Kids usually like noodles or pasta. Serve fun shapes with grated cheese or toss them with olive oil to add extra calories. Make a sweet peanut noodle dish with a sauce that combines 1 tbsp. peanut butter, 1 tbsp. soy sauce, 1 tsp. brown sugar and a squeeze of lime juice. Toss with whole wheat fettuccine.

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