Being underweight poses various health risks in children. Newborn babies differ in their weight at the time of birth and the weight gain trends also tend to differ among children. However, a baby’s weight gain should fall within certain general guidelines to be classified as healthy.
Normal weight gain in children:
Generally speaking, the baby’s growth during the first year should happen in the following way:
- During the first six months, the baby may grow about 1.5-2.5 cm per month, and gain about 150-200 grams of weight per month. By the end of 5 months, the baby’s weight should be double of birthweight.
- From six months to one year, the baby grows about a centimeter a month and gains about 100-150 grams per month. The baby’s weight should be triple of birthweight at the end of one year.
The metabolism also differs from one child to another, and this can also lead to children being underweight. Apart from metabolic reasons, some other factors like certain diseases can make children underweight.
Foods to gain weight:
Underweight children are often a cause of concern and worry for parents. Not only being underweight affects the physical growth and development of the child, but can also deter mental development in some children. Here are some foods which specifically help babies in gaining weight:
- Breast milk:
If your baby is under 6-8 months of age and is underweight, breastmilk is perhaps the best source for weight gain. It is highly recommended that the baby should be exclusively fed only mother’s milk until the age of six months. Breastmilk is extremely nutritious and is a healthy superfood that will help in increasing the weight of the baby.
- Sweet potato:
Sweet potatoes are another extremely rich and nutritious food which can be fed to babies and children for gaining weight. Sweet potatoes are rich in nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, manganese etc. which are very helpful in gaining weight. Moreover, sweet potatoes can also be mashed very easily for feeding infants.
Bananas are widely used as a weight gain food item. Even when it comes to babies, bananas can be fed to increase the weight of underweight children. You can feed it to toddlers either in mashed form, or make a smoothie and notice the change in a short period of time.
Pulses are extremely rich in nutrients like proteins, magnesium, iron, potassium etc. If your baby is over six months of age, you can gradually introduce pulses into the baby’s diet. Start slowly by feeding pulses in soup form (popularly known as daal paani), and once the baby is 7-9 months old, you can gradually shift to soft solids. You can also feed finely mashed khichdi to the baby. Specifically yellow lentils (moong daal), and black gram lentils (urad daal) are very helpful in increasing the weight of the baby.
Ghee is another superfood that is widely consumed for its multiple health benefits, including weight gain. If your baby is over eight months old, you can gradually introduce ghee in the baby’s diet. While feeding the baby, add small amounts of ghee to food items like khichdi, or pulses to assist weight gain.
Eggs are a very rich source of protein and can be fed to kids after they complete 12 months of age (or earlier if your pediatrician recommends). Not only eggs are a powerhouse of various essential nutrients, but can also be served in various forms like scrambled, boiled etc. depending on the preferences of the child. After eggs, you can slowly and gradually introduce meat and fish if needed.
The above-mentioned food items can significantly help in tackling weight gain problems in your child. It is also highly recommended to consult a pediatrician if your child is underweight to chalk out a detailed plan for the child’s weight gain and to look for any underlying issues.
At Cloudnine hospitals, we are dedicated to providing you and your child with the best treatment and care. Our expert team of doctors and specialists (including pediatricians, dietitians etc.) and state-of-the-art facilities ensure that your child gets the best guidance, care, and treatment irrespective of the condition. Cloudnine’s expert counselors and pediatricians can help your child overcome any physical or mental health issues, including problems in gaining weight.