What should you do if your child is underweight?
If you are unsure whether your kid needs to gain weight, consult with your doctor before beginning any weight-growth efforts. It is certainly likely that your child’s weight is perfectly normal. Given that one in every five children in the United States is fat, and another one in every six is overweight, it is understandable for a parent to believe their child is underweight in comparison. Checking your child’s body mass index, a measurement based on height and weight that is used for children aged 2 and older, is one approach to determining if their weight is healthy.
Losing weight or being underweight might be a sign of a medical or emotional condition, so discuss your worries with your doctor. They may want to see your child determine whether any evaluations are required. If your child is under the age of two, it is very vital that you consult with your doctor regarding weight concerns and strictly adhere to their recommendations.
Choosing nutritious foods for a youngster who needs to gain weight:
If your child is over the age of two and the doctor believes that gaining weight is a good idea, the best method to go about it is to use nutritious foods and healthy practices.
Three strategies for promoting healthy weight gain:
Provide your child with three meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) as well as two healthy snacks (mid-morning and mid-afternoon). If your child eats dinner early, a short snack before bedtime may be appropriate. Avoid snacking or drinking anything other than water in between; you want them to be hungry when you give them food.
Provide nutritious high-calorie foods. Consider the importance of healthy fats and protein. Here are several examples:
- nuts, nut butter, and seeds such as pumpkin or sunflower seeds
- whole milk, heavy cream, cream cheese, and other cheeses made with full-fat dairy
- Hummus, avocados, olive oil, and other vegetable oils
- entire grains, such as granola or whole-wheat bread (look for granola sweetened with juice or fruit rather than sugar)
- if your diet is meat, then meat
- Consider adding calories to your meals and snacks whenever you make them. For example, you may top pasta with extra oil, butter, or cheese, or spread nut butter on a slice of apple or toast.
Foods that promote healthy weight gain:
Consider all food groups while attempting to move the needle on the scale. It is not only a continuous diet of burgers and pizza that may cause your child to gain weight (though this may be their favored method). Even fruits and vegetables contain more calories than you might believe.
Choose any one of the foods in the following categories:
- sources include ground beef, steak, and lamb; white meat sources include chicken and turkey (particularly with skin); and pork sausage, pork chops, bacon, ham, and ribs.
- eggs from fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, trout, and sardines
- cashew butter, almond butter, peanut butter, and sunflower butter
- Pecans, walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, and flax seeds are examples of nuts and seeds.
- Tofu, tempeh, and soy milk are examples of soy proteins.
- Full-fat dairy yogurt
- full-fat cheese, whole milk, or 2% milk
- cream or half-and-half
- cream cheese sour cream
Oils and fats
- avocado oil
- olive oil
- canola oil
- dressings for salads
- Sweet potatoes with rice potatoes
- Breakfast cereals made from corn are high in fiber and protein.
- bread made with entire grains
- cereal bars/ granola bars (look for ones with low sugar, such as 5 grams or less per bar)
Vegetables and fruits
- Coconut, avocado, figs, dates, raisins, and other dried fruits like apricots, cranberries, and currants
- Squash, bananas, and other root vegetables
- Smoothies with substantial components such as full-fat yogurt, nut butter, or even coconut milk.
- smoothies with protein powder, avocado, nut butter, or chocolate milk (best if you opt for homemade shakes with all-natural ingredients)
- a cup of hot chocolate with whole milk
Here are a few reasons your child may require weight gain:
There are numerous causes of childhood underweight, many of which are related to three small words (which can sound quite frightening): Inability to thrive.
This medical phrase does not refer to an illness and has no single definition, but it commonly alludes to a child’s slow development caused by a lack of nutrients.
Failure to thrive in newborns can be caused by nutrition issues such as:
- breastfeeding trouble latching an allergy to formula chemicals reflux
- All these factors can cause a youngster to lag in their growth pattern.
- Failure to thrive can affect children of any age.
- a food allergy or intolerance that has gone undiagnosed
- oral issues
- gastrointestinal issues
- Problems with behavior, development, or neurological function
- Certain drugs are also known for interfering with appetite and resulting in weight loss or plateaus in children.
Drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, such as Ritalin, Dexedrine, and Adderall, are particularly well-known for their appetite-suppressing adverse effects. If you suspect that your child’s drugs are hurting their appetite or weight gain, discuss your concerns with their pediatrician. Do not abruptly discontinue any drugs.
Your child’s delayed weight increase could be due to them not consuming enough calories for their age. Children who are active and growing may require more calories than you anticipate. Preteen boys, for example, frequently require the same number of calories as adults.
To be on the safe side, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source defines “underweight” as falling in the bottom fifth percentile of the growth chart.
Whatever the cause of your child’s delayed weight gain, the good news is that you, as a parent, have a lot of control over one of the most important healing factors: your diet. A healthful, high-calorie diet is the greatest place to begin.
You can also lead by example by demonstrating healthy eating habits and making nutritional choices.
When you should not be concerned about your child’s development?
- It is normal to be concerned when a plot point on your child’s growth chart goes below what you expected. However, even if there is some variety in the growing process, it is only normal.
- Instead of a single low weigh-in during a well-child check, pediatricians often look at your child’s weight progress over time. They can also assist you in focusing your efforts at home on assisting your child in gaining weight.
- Do not be concerned if your child skips a meal or suddenly rejects meals (or, let us be honest, an entire category of foods) for toddlers.
- The appetites of children can be fickle. Allow your child time and space, recognizing that this could be a passing phase. (However, continue to provide a diverse range of foods)
Do not restrict your physical activity:
Because weight gain is fundamentally a calorie-in versus calorie-out equation, it may be tempting to advise an underweight youngster not to get too active. However, children require a lot of physical activity on a regular basis. It is preferable not to restrict their exercise unless suggested by your doctor.
Consult a dietician:
Putting all the pieces together to help your child gain weight can be stressful. You are not required to go through it alone.
Seeking the advice of a nutritionist, particularly one who specializes in pediatrics, can make all the difference. A pediatric dietitian can help you make the best decisions for your child’s food because they are experts in childhood nutrition.
When to Consult Your Paediatrician?
You should never be embarrassed to ask your pediatrician a question, no matter how foolish it may seem. (Seriously, they have heard everything.) If you are concerned that your kid is not gaining enough weight or appears to have regressed along the growth chart, do not be afraid to express your concerns to your pediatrician. Furthermore, if your child appears “scrawny,” has little energy, or has seen behavioral changes in conjunction with weight loss, speak up. All of these are legitimate causes for additional study.
Keep all suggested well-child visits to properly monitor your child’s weight advancement. It is particularly important to seek expert treatment if your child refuses to eat for an extended period of time, such as more than 24 to 48 hours, especially if there is no obvious cause, such as illness.
Because drugs can interfere with healthy weight growth, talk to your pediatrician about the implications of any new medications.
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