We hear the phrase, “Each child is different. One must not compare between children” often when it comes to parenting. This goes for a child’s weight and food intake too. No matter what the recommendations say, in the real-world food intake and weight and height gains vary from child to child. Which is why experts tend to rely on individual growth curves and general ranges.
And while it is best not to panic about food intake and low weight of your toddler, there are many healthy weight gain foods for toddlers that can be incorporated in the daily diet without force feeding the child.
WHEN IS LOW WEIGHT IN TODDLERS A PROBLEM?
It is important to understand first when low weight is turning into a problem and when it is your child’s natural body frame. Society has conditioned us to view chubby children as healthy, but the reality is that children’s weight varies within a range in each group. (Check here for growth charts for children.)
As long as your child is following along on his/her growth curve (even at the lower end of the percentile), is active, and following milestones you don’t really need to worry.
Keep track of your child’s growth curve and discuss with your pediatrician what should look like the normal for your low-weight child.
If you find that weight has slowed down during certain phases of growth or after a period of illness. Do not hesitate to discuss these issues with your doctor.
Regardless of the issues, as a parent you can ensure that your growing child is getting all the nutrients needed for development by strategically adding more nutrient dense high calorie healthy weight gain foods to the diet.
This article is a great resource for parents in understanding standard height and weight charts for babies.
WHAT ARE SOME HEALTHY WEIGHT GAIN FOODS FOR TODDLERS?
Include foods that are naturally calorie dense and/or are naturally fat rich. Here are some examples of foods that help toddlers gain weight healthily.
Note: Whole pasteurized milk is recommended for children under two years of age.
Whole grain cereals in foods like bread and pasta.
Oily fish like salmon and mackerel.
Note: Avoid processed meats like sausages, cold cuts and hot dogs.
Cold pressed nut oils
Additional sources to increase calorie content of meals
Nut and Seed powders
SMART WAYS TO ADD CALORIE DENSE FOODS TO MEALS
- Add dry fruits powder to smoothies, milk, breads like chapati and parathas, toppings to porridge, smoothie bowls, yogurt or fruit bowls.
- Add potatoes and cheese to bulk up vegetarian meals.
- Add ghee to curries, dals, chapati or extra olive oil in pasta and salad dishes.
- Make meat and egg-based patty as a snack or side for meals.
- Cooking food in butter/ghee for the child or topping food like pancakes and porridge with butter or nut butter.
- Energy dense snack foods like energy balls and energy bars made with dates and a combination of nuts are also an option.
HIGH CALORIE FOODS FOR TODDLERS WEIGHT GAIN
Here are some high calorie toddler recipes for you to try at home.
For more healthy meal ideas for picky eaters read this blog of mine.
To sum it up,
Track and observe your child’s growth on the growth curve. Focus on creating a healthy environment around food instead of force feeding and build balanced meals using nutrient rich Whole Foods that meet your growing child’s needs.