How many times have you come back worried about your child’s weight after your regular pediatrician visit? I did. Most toddlers after being weaned off breast milk tend to become underweight for their age and size. You might also come across a stage when you observe and think- “have they stopped growing” or “does he have worms again?”
While I went through this phase with my son when he was about two I took the help of few of the rich foods my mother fed me while I was growing up. I also must emphasize here that don’t make weight a parameter to declare your child as healthy or unhealthy. Sometimes they may weigh less but the sparkle in their eye tells the whole truth of about their health.
Even though an apple a day, keeps the doctor away, bananas are the best source of calorie intake as well as nutrition. And bananas and milk is a super healthy combination. Try giving mashed bananas with milk in breakfast meals. Remember the goal here is not to increase their weight, but just to reach the healthy weight according to their age and daily activity. So anything in excess is a complete no-no.
Whole/full cream milk is also an alternative that can be continued till your child turns older. I would not suggest high protein shakes that are available in the market which are greatly advertised on television. They just add on to the weight in no time, which does not solve the purpose.
Cheese is another source of protein and is highly energy dense. Include cheese in various forms like adding in paranthas, cheese breads with soups, or even a cube of cheese at times to satisfy their hunger.
A balanced diet is as important for an underweight child as much it is for healthy kids and adults. Have 4-5 portions of fruits of vegetables every day. Include lentils, pulses, fish, eggs and meat. Avoid saturated oils and switch to unsaturated oils wherever possible.
The deal with underweight kids could also be fussy eating habits. I’ve heard many mothers complain that their child does not even want to experiment with their food. So that’s where the job becomes tougher. So make it interesting that they enjoy their meal time. Make it family time, talk and be happy. Talk about the day and get their mind off the plate.
Keep a count of the daily calorie intake of your child until they reach their healthy weight. Introduce foods that are high on calories like potatoes, milk puddings, dairy products etc. Don’t feed on the junk items just so to increase their weight.
Even if you child is underweight, keep him /her active in physical play. That would help them developing their bones and muscles and making them stronger. There is a difference between underweight and weak. So identify what you are dealing with.
After all these are challenges of childhood that most parents face and patience is the key.
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