Simple tips for healthy weight gain in children
I am pretty sure; you must be one among those parents who are worried about their skinny child. Why doesn’t my little one feel hungry?
Is your child one of those who eats very little portion of food and feels full? Is your child mostly found sitting lonely or not playing actively with his peer friends? If your child is among the few skinny folks who have had a hard time bulking up, its time to change their food eating habits and lifestyle.
Being underweight is not always same as being thin or slender. Always remember, some children have an in born slight-build. But an extreme underweight child may show signs of dietary, health or emotional problems.
Assuming your little one has no underlying medical concerns, your mindful strategy should be to encourage weight gain in a healthy way, with food.
Not to forget, empty calories from those fries, junk and sugary foods may add a few kilos, but they might not provide all the requisite nutrients a child requires to build healthy body and an active mind.
Why is my child not gaining enough weight?
- Increased energy requirements and comparatively lesser intake
- Feeding issues and lack of eating and coordination skills
- Chronic and recurring infections
- Underlying disease or condition
- Not eating calorie dense food or even a low protein intake.
Simply trying to overeat or to eat whatever you want to gain weight isn’t necessarily going to be healthy.
Following are a few tips to help your child gain weight and stay healthy too-
- Emphasize more on protein rich foods like whole eggs, peanut butter, full cream milk, thick fruit shakes like banana shakes, curd and cheese. These foods can also be given as snacks. Try giving flavoured milk, thick buttermilk, hot cocoa with meals. Spread some extra peanut butter on breads, toast, waffles or crackers.
- Try avoiding refined foods. Replace the Maida with whole wheat. Whole- wheat breads and multigrain breads can be eaten.
- Encourage your child to eat hot fresh cereals with milk or soya milk instead of water to add on the desired calcium, protein and other necessary nutrients. You can add milk or paneer whey to soups or dough to make chapatis
- You can treat your child with some butter corn, or sweet potato sheera
- Eating Nuts like almonds, walnuts, few cashews should be a routine for your little one. Add soaked raisins or dry figs to the milkshakes for more flavour and energy
- Prefer making smoothies. They act as an entire meal and are filling too!! If your child dislikes them, you can add some berries, little ice-cream, nut butters, chocolate chips and seeds to make them look attractive
- You can make hummus or a variety of bean or cheesy dips to accompany those tasty nachos
- Make sure your child isn’t filling up on liquids, juices or water, so that he or she is hungry at meal time
- It is wise to mix cheese or fresh paneer in almost everything- parathas, frankies, sandwiches, rolls, dosas, salads and soups
- Encourage making some laddus together. You can add fresh coconut, groundnut, til seeds, pumpkin seeds, lots of ghee, almonds and jaggery to increase the calorie content. Teach your child to snack some til, nut and groundnut chikkis too!
- Prefer giving your child one or two regular, energy dense snacks every day.
- Create a relaxed and regular mealtime-
- Avoid distractions during meal times
- They will eat when hungry. It is necessary that you decide on what and where to eat. But, let your child decide if they eat and how much.
- Eat as a family
- Meal times should be neither too short nor too lengthy.
- Allow your child to feed themselves and allow them to “be messy” while setting boundaries for mealtimes.
- Young children have smaller tummies and therefore are not able to eat a large volume of food. Thus, choose foods with high calories. Adding cream cheese, butter, ghee, peanut butter can add on the required calories, thus increasing the weight of the child.
Involve your child in meal planning, shopping groceries and cooking, to incite them in mindful food eating. However, if your child is looking skinny, but is eating adequately, taking part in sports, playing with other kids actively, and is cheerful most times, then no need to get worried.
Considering the above given simple tips, chances are good that with some patience and conscientious meal and snack planning, your child will strike a healthy height and weight balance.
Many times, Nutrition supplements may be recommended by a Dietitian or a health care provider depending on your child’s age. But, prefer relying on a healthy diet as a medium to increase your child’s body weight.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sneha Jain, Dietician
Sneha is a Post graduate with specialization in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a university topper and holds 5+ years of experience in Apollo hospitals, VLCC, slimsutra and first cry fit-kids . She has successfully counselled clients all over India for weight loss, weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, PCOD, hypothyroid, Pregnancy and lactation and growth charts for children. She has her own diet consultation e-clinic (diet_diariez)
She believes in customized diets and eating local and seasonal foods. Her counselling not only involves diet planning, but also lifestyle modification and stress relief strategies.