When your child's a picky eater, it can be difficult to get him to eat enough healthy foods to meet his nutritional needs. Some kids eat everything in sight but are still underweight. Whatever the reason you're considering giving nutritional shakes to your child, there are a few things to consider before you head out to the grocery store or whip out the blender. Always discuss your child's diet with a pediatrician before making changes.
Different Shakes for Different Needs
If your child is underweight, she'll need a different type of shake than a child who eats enough calories, but isn't eating enough fruits and vegetables, for example. If you choose to go the commercial route, the shakes will be marketed specifically as weight-gain shakes or essential vitamin and mineral shakes. If you make the shakes yourself, you'll need to choose the right ingredients to meet your child's needs. If your child is deficient in a certain nutrient or nutrients, ask your doctor or a dietitian about commercial shakes or ingredients to add to homemade shakes to fill the gap.
On her website, registered dietitian Janet Brill suggests weight-gain shakes for kids contain about 300 calories. Nutritious high-calorie and protein-rich ingredients to blend into weight-gain shakes include creamy nut butters, whole milk and whole milk yogurt. Although added sugar provides calories, it doesn't offer any nutrients, so use fruits like bananas and berries to add natural sweetness. You can also blend in mild-flavored vegetables like yellow bell peppers and spinach to contribute additional vitamins and minerals. Avocado is also a good addition; it's high in calories and healthy fats and promotes a creamy texture.
For kids who are at a normal weight but may not be getting enough vitamins and minerals from whole fruits and vegetables, you can lower the calorie count by using low-fat milk and yogurt and omitting nut butters, which are high in calories. Throw in a handful of mild-flavored leafy greens such as spinach, and mix it with sweet and tart fruits such as berries and apples to mask the flavor of the greens. Experiment with your shakes to find out which types please your child's palate and which ones she passes on.
Make sure all shakes are blended so they're creamy-smooth without chunks or veggie fibers, which could pose a choking risk for your toddler or young child.