Summary Identifying interventions that more effectively promote healthy growth of children with undernutrition is a pressing global health goal. Analysis of human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) from 6-month-postpartum mothers in two Malawian birth cohorts revealed that sialylated HMOs are significantly less abundant in those with severely stunted infants. To explore this association, we colonized young germ-free mice with a consortium of bacterial strains cultured from the fecal microbiota of a 6-month-old stunted Malawian infant and fed recipient animals a prototypic Malawian diet with or without purified sialylated bovine milk oligosaccharides (S-BMO). S-BMO produced a microbiota-dependent augmentation of lean body mass gain, changed bone morphology, and altered liver, muscle, and brain metabolism in ways indicative of a greater ability to utilize nutrients for anabolism. These effects were also documented in gnotobiotic piglets using the same consortium and Malawian diet. These preclinical models indicate a causal, microbiota-dependent relationship between S-BMO and growth promotion.