If you’re a mother, you will definitely agree with me when I say that there always is or has been a time when you were worried and had sleepless nights over the weight figures of your baby or kid. A 200 gms increase on the scale lit up your face and no increase (as compared to the last reading) on the scale made you think your child is underweight. Well, your heart can actually and really tell you whether your child is underweight or not.
But, there actually are some kids who are underweight and they are ‘officially’ underweight, especially when the doctor tags them so.
Reasons for a child being underweight
- A recent physical illness
- Sudden increase in height
- Genetic reasons (both parents being too skinny)
- Poor eating habits
- Improper diet
- Psychological reasons like stress, anxiety, depression etc.
It’s best to visit your child’s doctor to know if she is really underweight. A doctor can best evaluate the BMI of your child and if her BMI falls below the 5th percentile, then she can be considered underweight.
What if my child is underweight?
All you should do is try means and measures to make your child gain weight. Here are some ways you can adopt to make your child disown the ‘underweight’ tag:
- No matter what he eats, try to add calories to it. Add nuts, vegetable oils, butter, cheese – just try to make his food calorie dense.
- Try to pep up your child’s interest in food. Try to cook what she likes to eat, buy vegetables of her choice, prepare fruit juices of her liking and involve her in the decision making process, shopping, preparing etc. so that her interest in food increases.
- Children emulate their parents. So, begin with dropping off your unhealthy food habits and start having only nutritious food in front of your kids, at least. This’ll encourage them to eat better and help them gain weight quicker.
- The more he eats, the more weight he will gain. So try to feed your child frequently. Let there not be too much gap between two meals. Healthy snacking between meals is a good option.
- Ask your doctor if you can give your child any health supplements, high calorie drinks and the like, so that all his nutritional needs get fulfilled. But, make sure you give these to your child only if your doctor allows.
- Whatever food you prepare for your kid, should look very attractive and so you need to make it visually very pleasing for your kid. This will arouse an interest in him towards trying out that food item.
- Fix a time and place for meals and sit down along with your child to have meals together as a family. The mood and the warmth that you give her while she is having her meals, will have a great impact on the way she consumes food.
- Avoid watching TV or allowing your child to watch TV while he is eating his food.
- Encourage your child to increase his physical activity and play outdoor games. This will help him digest the calorie rich food he eats and will also keep his muscles and bones strong.
- Chalk out a meal plan for the week and try to incorporate all healthy and nutritious food items of your child’s choice.
- Avoid giving foods to your child that’ll fill him up too quickly. In such a case, he will refuse to eat more and miss out on the required nutrition.
Tips to help your child gain weight
- Limit the amount of milk or juices that she drinks in a day to no more than two cups a day. If she drinks a lot of milk throughout the day then she’d never be truly hungry and will always refuse to eat solid and filling food which is important to make a child gain weight.
- Cut down on junk foods completely
- Feed your child nuts like cashews, almonds, raisins, walnuts or calorie dense fruits like bananas in between meals as healthy snacks.
- Feed one mashed potato with milk or cheese in it – daily.
- Try to garnish her meals or snacks with grated cheese.
- Give your kid full cream milk only and not toned or skimmed milk. This’ll help her gulp in more calories.
- Change the way you prepare soups. Add water instead of milk to make them rich in calories.
Foods to help your child put on weight
Try giving your child more of these to bring him or her out of the underweight zone:
- Full cream
- Full-fat milk
- Nuts (Cashews, almonds, pistachios, raisins, walnuts)
- Trail mix
- Rice in chicken broth
- Mashed potatoes
- Full-fat Yogurt
- Olives or olive oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Peanuts or peanut butter
- Thick fruit milk shakes
- Vitamin supplements (on doctor’s advice)
As you begin the journey of helping your child put on some weight, remember to not get emotionally tired and give up, because Rome was not built in a day. It will definitely need some patience and perseverance to make your kid gain some healthy weight.
Just keep your cool and make it a thumb rule to feed nutritious and calorie rich foods to your kid and all that you want will be yours – a healthy child!